Garden

Geranium - Pelargonium


GeneralitŠ°


The pelargonium has always been the undisputed king of balconies and terraces, both for the ease of cultivation and for the incredible amount of flowers it can produce in a year. The first geranium plants grown in Europe came from southern Africa, nowadays selected varieties are cultivated, which belong to the Pelargonium family. Numerous types of geraniums are available, which differ in the type of flowering and the peculiar characteristics that make them suitable for cultivation in different environmental conditions.

Zonal Geranium



This is the most widespread variety; It is easily recognizable as it is characterized by an erect habit, round and fleshy stems with large and rounded leaves, which have a darker area inside, from which the name "zonal" derives.

Simple Geranium Ivy



This variety is widely used for the furnishing of balconies and terraces, precisely because, even in extreme conditions (little land, exposure to full sun and not optimal frequency of irrigation), it manages to give us splendid blooms. The name "ivy" is to be attributed to two reasons: the first is related to the hanging habit that the plant assumes; the second, instead, is due to the similarity of the leaf, although this, in the case of the pelargonium, is smaller and more rounded. The classic colors are red, pink and lilac; Recently, there are varieties on the market that have a white and white flower with pink streaks. This geranium certainly remains one of the most beautiful and "generous" plants for our balconies.

Geranium Double Ivy



Very similar to the simple one, both for habit and for needs, the double Geranium Edera is obtained with a cross between the simple ivy and the zonal one. Depending on the variety, you can find more similar plants to one or the other species. Less vigorous than the simple ivy, the double G. Edera has double flowers with a really wide range of colors; the leaves are more fleshy and have darker areas like the zonal.

Imperial Geranium



This pelargonium develops especially in height and has an erect habit, a large quantity of leaves (very thick) and an abundant flowering. The flowers are very large and their color varies from white to purple; the flower is also mottled and has many nuances.

Geranium Odorous



These plants are characterized by the scent they give off; the posture, which is generally erect, is not as compact as in the zonal. The coloring of the leaf depends on the type of variety. Flowering is less generous than other species. As for the fragrances we can say that they usually vary from mint to lemon, but lately others have been selected as well.

Exposure


All the geraniums vegetate well in the sun but the imperial and zonal varieties also in the shade, even in very bright areas. One of the main symptoms of the lack of light is the formation of a large amount of leaves and stems at the expense of flowering. The exhibition must be chosen based on the geographical position in which we find ourselves. More precisely, in the mountain regions the ideal is south exposure; in the rest of Italy it is advisable, instead, to prefer areas to the south-east, to prevent the afternoon sun from burning the leaves. In southern regions it is also advisable to prefer ivy varieties, which, as we have already said, have a greater resistance to drought.

Tanks



The pots must be chosen according to the type of geranium we are going to plant. For the zonal varieties we recommend a vase that respects the shape of the plant, then oval boxes or round vases; the dimensions vary according to the plant, from a minimum of 16-18 cm in diameter up to over 35 cm for larger plants. For pending varieties, we recommend cassettes that have a depth of at least 18-20 cm, the plants should be placed at a distance of about 20 cm from each other (boxes 40cm 2 geraniums, boxes 60cm 3 geraniums). In pendulous vessels, which should not be less than 16 cm, only one plant should be planted.

Ground


On the market there are now a large quantity of molds, more or less specific for geraniums. The ideal soil for pelargonium is composed of a mixture of blond peat and brown peat, duly corrected, to bring the pH of the soil around 6.2; in addition, with the addition of clay, the plant has a good water supply even in the hottest periods.

Composting


Basic fertilization is very important for geranium. The best solutions derive from a correct ratio between organic substance (humus, very old manure) and a controlled release fertilizer (eg osmocote). It is advisable to repeat the administration of organic substance even in the middle of the vegetative cycle, after about 3-4 months. The frequency of liquid fertilizations is fundamental; to have beautiful geraniums, the ideal would be to provide the right nutrition every time the plants are watered, this to give them a continuity in growth and in flowering and to avoid the risk of causing stress to the plant due to excessive fertilization . Finally, it is important to prefer fertilizers with a low concentration of nitrogen, dilute the fertilizer, so that it is less concentrated than the indications on the package, and increase the frequency of fertilization.

Watering


Geraniums are arid climate plants and for this reason they suffer more from water stagnation than from drought; therefore avoid the saucer always full of water. During the vegetative period, irrigate the plants regularly, taking care to let the soil dry well between one irrigation and another. In the period from June to September the frequency of irrigation will be daily and the hours of the morning will be preferred. In the autumn the watering will be suspended.

Parasites and Diseases


To better control diseases, the best thing is preventive treatments, which are administered every 15-20 days and prevent the establishment of the parasite. In the hottest periods, geraniums are subject to attacks by mites and aphids, which lurk on the underside of the leaf, making it yellow and then falling. For the fight against these parasites it is advisable to spray the plants with the acaricidal insecticide in order to eliminate both pests. In spring and autumn, given the high rate of humidity and water, plants can be affected by rust attacks, which is manifested by the formation of small light spots on the leaf; to eliminate this mycelium it is appropriate to treat the plants with Zineb and sulfur, or with specific products that can be found in any garden.

Keep the geraniums in the winter period



The choice of ways to conserve geraniums must be made in relation to the region in which one lives.
In the south they can be left outside, covering them with a "non-woven fabric" to protect them from the colder currents. In the north the plants must be withdrawn as follows: suspend the watering and fertilization 15-20 days before withdrawing them; at the time of the withdrawal, cut almost the entire aerial part, to facilitate the formation of new young branches; irrigate occasionally taking care that the soil is never soaked with water.
With the beginning of the beautiful season, it is advisable to cut the old and ruined roots, change the soil, take the plants outside, begin to fertilize and irrigate and, after 15-20 days, check off the new shoots and remove the branches old.

Multiplication


After a couple of years the plants are exhausted and therefore it is advisable to replace the old ones with new plants. The simplest thing is to go to a garden to buy them, even to change color and variety. But, if we are fond of that color or that kind of flower, we can get them from the old geraniums of the cuttings, which reproduce the same plants as the old ones. The cuttings of geranium root very easily and the operations to be carried out are simple: on mild days, when the temperature varies from 16 degrees to 24 degrees, take, with a well sharpened scissors, the apical part of the plant (the size of the cuttings must vary between 5 and 15 cm, depending on the variety of geranium); subsequently eliminate the basal leaves and immerse the part of the cut in the rooting hormones; then place the cutting in a well-drained and very light soil, which will facilitate rooting. Finally, it is advisable to vaporize the cuttings just planted with water, using a spray, so as to reduce evaporation. The soil should always be moist but never wet; after about 20-30 days the seedling can be transplanted.

Geranium - Pelargonium: Geranium tricks


Here are some small tips to always have beautiful geraniums all year round and make our neighbors envious.
* Cut a few buds of the most flowering plants, this to avoid stressing the geranium too much and prolonging the flowering time.
* Cut the wilted flowers with scissors, this in addition to a clear aesthetic factor, also to avoid that the plant wastes a lot of energy in the formation of new seeds.
* Do not tear the dried or shriveled leaves, but cut them leaving the stalk about half a cm long. To prevent the formation of lacerations with the consequent possibility of pathogenic attacks.
* With the help of a zappettino move the earth periodically to avoid the formation of crusts, which, in addition to washing away the organic substances, prevent the absorption of water and the respiration of the plant.
* Fertilizing periodically, seems a foregone thing, but the fertilization methodology is very important. Dilute the product in twice the water but fertilize with halved time intervals. This will allow the geranium to absorb almost the totality of the product, which otherwise would be washed away at the first irrigation without fertilizers
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