How To Plant Geranium Plants

Gardeners have traditionally favored geraniums. They smell wonderful, are colorful, and are simple to grow. How to cultivate geraniums in your house and garden is provided here!

(Note: This page is about Pelargonium plants, sometimes known as geraniums or storksbills. This is not a page about “hardy geraniums, also referred to as cranesbills.

Geraniums are normally kept indoors to overwinter, even if they may be kept outside throughout the warmer months of the year. In contrast, if given enough light, they can bloom all year long indoors.

Geranium or Pelargonium? A Case of Mistaken Identity

Early in the 18th century, Dutch traders who were traveling through South Africa brought the plants that we now refer to as “geraniums” to Europe. Botanists misclassified these new plants into the same genus because they resembled the hardy wild geraniums that are already present throughout Europe.

Botanist Carl Linnaeus of Sweden included them in the genus Geranium in 1753. Pelargonium, which refers to the long, sharply pointed shape of their seedpod, was used to reclassify these new “geraniums when it was later revealed that they differed from European geraniums in the shape of their petals, the number of stamens, and other features.

However, people still refer to them by their old common name, “geranium,” even if we really mean “pelargonium.”

  • You can grow geraniums as annual blooms or as indoor plants. They can be kept outside in a sunny area throughout the warmer months of the year (between your local frost dates).
  • If keeping geraniums as indoor plants, make sure to do so in the late summer or early fall when overnight lows begin to consistently fall below 55F. (13C).
  • Pay great attention to the size and color of geraniums when purchasing them. Healthy stems and leaves will not be straggly or discolored on top of them or underneath them. A plant with evident insect indications should also be avoided. Mealybugs, whiteflies, and spider mites are typical indoor plant pests.
  • To prevent root rot, put plants in containers with drainage holes.
  • When planting in pots, use a well-draining potting mixture rather than heavy, clayey soil. Geraniums dislike being planted in mucky, compacted soil.
  • Place the plants where they will receive 4-6 hours of sunlight per day for the best bloom.

How to Care for Geraniums

  • After letting the soil somewhat dry between waterings, water it again well.
  • Water plants significantly less throughout the winter, but make sure the roots are not completely dried up. Given a time of hibernation throughout the winter, when they consume less water and don’t grow as much, geraniums thrive. For additional overwintering tips, see the section below.
  • Regularly deadhead spent flowers to promote blooming.
  • Pinch back the stems to encourage bushiness and prevent legginess.
  • Fertilize approximately every two weeks throughout the active growing months. Half-strength a fertilizer that is water soluble When the plant should be dormant in the winter, avoid fertilizing.
  • Repotting geraniums can be done in the spring to promote new growth or if they appear to need revitalization.

Overwintering Geraniums

  • If they receive plenty of sunlight, geraniums that have spent the summer outdoors can be kept indoors. The sun may not be strong enough in northern regions in late winter to promote buds on some cultivars.
  • Lift the plants before the first fall frost (you can find your local frost dates here), and use a sharp, clean knife to shapely prune the stems back to about 6 to 8 inches. In the low-sunlight environment they are about to enter, they shouldn’t have to maintain substantial amounts of leaves. A simple technique to increase the number of your plants is to save a few stems for rooting.
  • Place the “mother plant” in the smallest pot you can find—just big enough to hold the roots—and fill it with ordinary potting soil.
  • The plants should be kept in the shadow for a week before being moved to a sunny location and kept cool.
  • Geraniums thrive in temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and 16 degrees Celsius) at night during the winter, but they can also withstand lows of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) and highs of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), provided they are kept relatively dry.
  • Cut off all the old leaves when the spring growth begins.

Keeping the new growth alive is the only challenge that can compare to getting it to appear. Here is some assistance with that:

  • Only offer tiny quantities of water when the leaves begin to droop. Don’t feed or fertilize the plants. These plants must have some downtime.
  • Pinch back your overwintered geraniums in February if you want them to bloom by Memorial Day. Take the plants outside and move them to beds or pots, as you like, once warm weather returns and all threat of frost has passed.
  • Containers are ideal for growing the Common or Zonal Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) (as well as outdoors).
  • Hanging baskets, window boxes, and containers are all extremely popular places to use Ivy-Leaf Geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum).

How to Root Stem Cuttings

The majority of geraniums readily take root from stem cuttings when placed in soil, sand, water, perlite, or another rooting medium.

  • Make a slanted incision 4 inches below the tip of the stem, above the node where the leaves emerge, with a clean, sharp knife. Cut the grass immediately below a node. Remove all except two or three leaves, any buds, and the stipules that resemble leaves at the base of leaf stalks.
  • To ensure that the cut end of the stem will seal and not rot, roll the stem cutting in newspaper or place it in the shade for 24 hours.
  • Place the stem in a wet rooting media container and keep it there for two days in a warm, shaded area. Give the cutting indirect sun after that. Just as needed, moisten the medium.
  • Apply crushed geranium leaves to small cuts to halt the bleeding.
  • Scarlet geranium is the flower that speaks of foolishness. More floral meanings can be found here.
  • You won’t have to worry about those bothersome bugs because geraniums are known to be harmful to Japanese beetles.
  • Keep geraniums out of the reach of curious youngsters and animals (cats, dogs) as they might cause indigestion or vomiting.

Low light, overexposure, and underwatering are common issues. Yellowing leaves are a sign that you are watering your plants either too little or too much. Try to water the geraniums evenly in this situation, and transfer them to a more sunny location.

What is the ideal location to plant geraniums?

To cultivate geraniums, you don’t have to be an expert gardener. Geraniums don’t require much in the way of particular care and don’t care much for expensive fertilizers or niche soils.

For geraniums, soil

A loose soil with lots of organic materials is ideal for geraniums. Add peat, compost, or perlite if your soil is on the heavier side. Vermiculite and manure are not advised.

Geranium Planting Locations

Nearly all gardening zones are suitable for geranium planting. Even after understanding this, you might still wonder if geraniums require full sun. Geraniums need a lot of light to bloom, although in regions with hot summers, some shade is advised. The answer to the question of how much sunlight geraniums require varies on the particular geranium and your gardening zone. The optimum position has well-draining soil, morning sun, and afternoon shade. Pick a spot that is the right size for your geranium flower beds. The risk of illness is decreased by maintaining the proper distance between plants.

Geranium Planting Season

Planting season shouldn’t be rushed because geraniums aren’t cold resistant. If you hold off too long, though, you run the risk of missing the low nighttime temperatures that promote budding. Planting at the right time is the first step in understanding how to cultivate geraniums outdoors. Wait till your soil reaches 60 degrees F and the threat of the last frost has passed.

Geranium-specific fertilizer

Light fertilizing is required for geraniums. If you overfeed them, the blossoms will suffer while the foliage thrives. You don’t need to buy a specialized geranium fertilizer, despite the fact that you may notice it in your local garden center. Combine 2 teaspoons of a water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer with 1 gallon of water for a mild fertilization. Every three weeks during the growing season, apply this solution.

Geraniums in Containers

You may be wondering how to pot-plant geraniums. Actually, it’s as simple as putting them in the ground. You require a soil that is loose and well-draining, regular watering, and minimal fertilizing. As long as the container has drainage holes, geraniums thrive in various sizes and shapes of containers. The secret to growing geraniums in pots is to put them in sunny spots away from windy areas.

Geraniums grown in pots have the extra advantage that you may easily bring them indoors for the winter. Geraniums will flourish as a houseplant even in the coldest months if they are put in a sunny window. After the last frost, gently reintroduce them to the outside in the spring.

giving geraniums water

Take the time to leave an irrigation furrow around each plant to act as a watering reservoir since geraniums require deep, thorough watering. As a result, water can collect and then slowly percolate through the soil. Allow the soil to dry out in between waterings to prevent root rot. Using a soaker hose to water at ground level keeps water off the leaves and guards against illness. Geraniums need to be watered frequently because the soil in pots likes to get heated. You can water plants without waiting for the soil to dry up between applications since the drainage holes assist prevent root rot.

What volume of water do geraniums require? You’ll just need to keep an eye on your plants. Avoid allowing your geraniums to wilt for proper geranium plant care. Poor flower production and leaf shedding occur as a result of withering and revival cycles.

Geranium pruning

Outdoor-planted annual geraniums don’t require pruning, but routine deadheading can help reduce disease and boost growth. After the flowers have faded, simply pinch off the entire flower stalk and pick the plants’ dried leaves. The geranium houseplant frequently develops long, slender legs. Pinching the growth tips on a regular basis will promote branching.

Geranium Common Pests and Diseases

Geraniums are generally free of insects and other pests. Botrytis and other fungus attacks, however, can happen in cooler, rainier climates. Commercial fungicides offer some level of defense. Oedema and root rot are two issues that can result from overwatering.

Is it preferable to grow geraniums in the ground or in pots?

Geraniums can be planted in any type of garden soil, but they thrive in neutral or alkaline soil. Grow in flower beds, hanging baskets, or containers that receive direct sunlight.

How to plant geraniums

Choose a peat-free multi-purpose compost with extra slow-release fertilizer when growing geraniums in containers. When paired with other summer bedding plants, geraniums look amazing. They may endure being packed closely together with other sensitive plants if planted in a rich compost and kept well-watered.

Here, Monty Don shows how to grow lavender and pelargoniums in pots for a lovely display:

How frequently should geraniums be watered?

Generally speaking, water geraniums 12 times a week. However, geranium watering requirements can vary based on the environment, the weather, and other significant considerations. A zonal geranium will require more watering in the late summer than a perennial geranium will in the winter. Place your finger in the soil to determine when geraniums need watering. This method is the simplest and least expensive. It’s time to water if the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil are dry.

  • When the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil feel dry to the touch, water geraniums.
  • If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can measure the amount of moisture with a moisture meter.

Utilizing a soil moisture meter is another way to monitor soil moisture levels. To determine when your container geraniums require additional water, use this moisture meter. Before watering, wait until the needle is in the top end of the “dry region. Until the needle reaches the top of the “wet region,” add water. Keep it out of the “wet region.”

Are geraniums sun or shade lovers?

Wish your life had a little more carefree beauty? Plant some geraniums, maybe. Geraniums are beautiful and low-maintenance plants that belong in planters, planting beds, and perennial borders.

Geraniums can be divided into two major groups. Zonal, fancy-leaf, ivy, perfumed, and Martha Washington (or regal) varieties of annual geraniums (Pelargonium species), which often only live for a year, are some examples. Perennial geraniums (Geranium species), which bloom continually from spring to summer, combine striking foliage with attractive blooms that emerge intermittently or continuously.

Where to Plant Geraniums

You must be aware of the type of geraniums you have in order to select the ideal planting location. With the exception of the ivy geranium, which thrives in mild shade, most annual geraniums require a location in full sun. On the other hand, depending on the variety, perennial geraniums can grow in either sunlight or shade. In the country’s southern and western regions, both types profit from shielding from the sun during the warmest time of the day.

What Kind of Soil to Use for Geraniums

Geraniums grow best in healthy, well-draining soil, which is ideal for both perennial and annual geraniums. Improve soil drainage and quality when growing geraniums in planting beds by adding 3 inches of Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Flowers to the top 6 to 8 inches of native soil. When growing geraniums in pots, Miracle-Gro Potting Mix should be used because it is light and fluffy. For the ideal planting medium, combine garden soil and potting soil in equal portions, or fill raised beds with Miracle-Gro Raised Bed Soil.

How to Plant Geraniums

Starting with young plants, such as the premium geraniums from the Miracle-Gro Brilliant Blooms collection*, is ideal (and simplest). Geraniums, both annual and perennial, benefit from warmth, so postpone planting in the spring until all risk of frost has passed. Once the summer heat subsides in the fall, you can also plant perennial geraniums. Try planting perennial geraniums from late fall to early spring in areas with mild winters.

Geraniums range in height from 4 to 48 inches tall and 6 to 36 inches wide, depending on the variety. For information on the recommended spacing for your type of geranium, consult plant tags. Use a pot that is at least 10 inches across for annual geraniums or at least 12 inches across for perennial geraniums when planting geraniums in pots.

Geraniums should be watered thoroughly after planting, giving the root ball and surrounding soil time to absorb the water.

How to Water Geraniums

Check the soil once a week for annual geraniums, and water when the top inch is dry. During their initial growth season, keep newly planted perennial geraniums in continuously moist soil. With the exception of periods of extreme drought, perennial geraniums can typically thrive on rainfall after they are established.

How to Mulch Geraniums

After planting geraniums, cover the area with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to help keep the soil moist and to prevent weed growth and sun exposure. Use Scotts bagged mulch, chopped leaves, pine straw, or another material that is easily obtainable in your area.

How to Feed Geraniums

Your plants receive an excellent starting dosage of nutrients when you start with rich, nutrient-rich soil. However, you should also feed them frequently all season long for maximum results. Apply Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food to your geraniums a month after planting to give them the extra boost of nutrition they require for magnificent blooms. Make sure you adhere to label directions.

How to Grow Perennial Geraniums

Even in the coldest climates, perennial geraniums don’t require particular care to survive the winter. After the initial flower flush, cutting perennial geraniums back by around one-third can encourage more blooms. Cut stems back as necessary if hardy geraniums like “Rozanne” or “Pink Penny” spread out too quickly and widely. These vining geraniums can have up to two-thirds of their length removed, and the plants will still grow back. To encourage new growth and prevent wilted leaves, prune cranesbill geraniums to 2 to 4 inches height after flowering.

How to Use Geraniums

Annual geraniums are excellent at stealing the show in planters and flowerbeds. Regal geraniums can resist cool weather and form lovely hanging basket plants, making them an obvious choice for planting in the early spring. Ivy geraniums are very stunning. Geraniums with aromatic leaves are strong in containers and form a lovely patio display where the leaves may be stroked and enjoyed.

In gardens with some shade, perennial geraniums add much-needed color and can thrive next to mature trees. While mid-size perennial geraniums go well with lanky shrubs, shorter perennial kinds create beautiful ground covers.

Are you prepared to begin cultivating geraniums? To learn more about a product, to buy it online, or to locate a retailer near you, click on any of the product links above.