Easy care geraniums make lovely landscape ornamentals, but few flower enthusiasts think of them as houseplants.
The drought-tolerant geranium thrives in subtropical climates in full sun. Most novice gardeners let these cold-sensitive plants die off in the yard when temperatures drop and purchase new ones the following spring. Don’t let your money die in the dirt. If you don’t want to keep them as year round houseplants, at least bring them in for overwintering and set them back in the garden when temperatures begin to rise again.
The most common types of geraniums available in garden nurseries fall into one of these categories:
The zonal geranium blooms in white, pink, orange, red or purple with zonal patterns on the leaves. The leaves on some zonals are edged or banded by colors such as yellow, white, burgundy or coral. Geranium enthusiast loves the zonal for its big, attractive flower heads that bloom white, pink, orange, red or purple.
The trailing habit of ivy geraniums makes them ideal for attractive hanging basket planters. Ivy geraniums can take some shade so putting them in a window that doesn’t receive an entire day of sunlight is no problem. Look for them in colors that range from white through pastel shades of pink to red and purple.
Martha Washingtons bloom in white and vivid colors such as orange, purple, red and burgundy. The regals can flourish in part shade and can grow up to 4 feet tall. Gardeners love the Martha Washingtons for the large frilly flowers.
Although the Scented geraniums grow smaller, less showy flowers, they are valued for aromatic leaves with scents such as citrus, apple, rose or mint. Citrus-scented cultivars, such as Citronella are offered as mosquito repellent plants, but the effectiveness is questionable.
You only need one sunny window to grow most geraniums as houseplants. If the windows in your house provide only a little sunlight, stick to the ivy geranium. Growth slows down in the winter and plants might get a little spindly due to less sunlight. Putting your geranium under a plant light solves this problem.
Pot geraniums as you would for the front porch. Use a container potting mix and fertilizer every two weeks or once a month. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season such as 20-20-20, or feed them at planting time with a time-release fertilizer that lasts all season. Regular fertilizing is especially important for container-grown plants during the growing season.
When watering your geraniums, place the pot in the sink, water thoroughly and let the pot set until all the water drains out. Wait until the dirt dries out completely before watering again. Check the moisture by sticking your finger in the soil about two inches. If it’s dry, it’s time to water again. You’ll find that geraniums need less water in the winter.
Keep your geraniums looking beautiful by deadheading them regularly and removing brown leaves. Remember that geraniums are heat loving plants. If the plant isn’t getting enough sunlight, use a plant light to help it along. Care for them as you would when planted outdoors. Make sure to give them a sunny window. Water and fertilize them regularly but cut back in the winter.
~ Brenda Reeves
With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...