Posted by Gardening Felix | Posted in Basic Gardening Tips, Flower Gardening Tips | Posted on 29-07-2012
If you’ve ever been to central Europe, you may have noticed the traditional farmhouses with balconies filled with tons of red geraniums, giving these houses a lively and colorful look. It’s not difficult to create the same effect on your own balcony: Geraniums are uncomplicated and resistant plants that don’t need much water. I’ll give you an overview on what to pay attention for and especially how to grow geraniums from seedlings in this article.
Geraniums (also called storksbill) originally come from south Africa and were introduced into the western world in the 17th century. They quickly became popular as ornamental plants in Europe’s court gardens and were adopted as a plant both for flat beds as well as for balconies. The red-blossomed ones with the typical full color are the most popular, but a variety of forms (particularly in different shades of red) exist. The main difference between different forms is whether they’re standing upright or hanging.
As geraniums are originally from Africa, they grow best in sunny places. Even sunny rooms and rather shady balconies may not give enough light – it’s best to put them to a more sunny spot in summer.
Geraniums shouldn’t be watered too often as they easily decay if they get “wet feet”. They normally don’t need to be watered too often – however, if you’re living in a especially hot and dry zone, it may be necessary to water them both in the morning in evening. To save time, I recommend to plant them in a multi-layer-soil: Clay grains/granule on the bottom followed by a layer of (coco) peat and finally soil.It’s important that water can still flow off.
As I wrote above, a water-saving soil mix is quite useful. Otherwise, geraniums grow fine in a mix of compost, normal soil and bark humus. Geraniums should be fertilized quite often – best with a mixture that’s high in phosphorous and potassium.
Geraniums are not resistant to cold; you may have to put them in your greenhouse or inside during winter. No fertilizer and only little water should be applied during this period.
Geraniums should be cut back a.) at the beginning of the hibernation period and b.) once more in spring (once theirs buds begin to swell). Cutting allows for a tight growth and powerful blossoms. The plants should be really low so only about one hand-breadth of length remains. About 3 to 4 branches per stem should remain on the plant.
How to grow from seedlings
Creating “new geraniums” from seedlings is an inexpensive and easy way to get a lot of plants in a short time. This is also useful for winter if you have only limited room – you may cut of branches and replant them in small pots inside your apartment or house, while the old plants remain on your balcony outside. In spring, you may then replant the young geraniums into your windowboxes.
Step one: Break off the upper parts of the stem that have at least one developed pair of leaves. Breaking is advantageous to cutting, as the propability of infections is lower.
Step two: Break the blooms of your new seedlings (they would drain too much energy from the plant)
Step three: Put them into small pots filled with a mixture of compost soil and peat.
Step four: Put a plastic or glass cover on top of the pots to retain moist air around the plants (control for medium moisture in the soil, meanwhile).
Step five: Position the new plants in a spot with medium levels of sunlight.
Following these tips, you may create a really nice looking bed of geraniums on your balcony. I think it looks particularly cool if you combine them with pots or pieces of furniture of another colour, f.e. light blue.
Although geraniums are typical plants for balconies and windowboxes, they’re also a sight to behold as single indoor plants (specially if they’re cut in an artful “bonsai” style).