Geraniums are an old favorite
They come in a variety of colors.
Walking down a typical German street of Tudor-style buildings, I am overwhelmed by the vivid colors of red against white and yellow walls.
Large window boxes filled with beautiful red geraniums and long trailing ivy is a sight you will not soon forget. It gives you a feeling of nostalgia on so many different levels, whether it was something that reminded us of how our parents or grandparents use to plant them, a sight we saw on our travels, or the pictures we viewed in countless magazines. It is one of those flowers that stays in our mind and has been around for many years, which would account for the nearly 10,000 varieties available throughout the world today.
Choosing the appropriate variety is an easy task as it is all based on what you like and where you are going to place them. They are available in red, white, pink, fuchsia, burgundy, salmon and purple, to name a few. The main geranium choices are zonal, seed, ivy, fancy-leaf, stellar and regal. The names may be confusing, especially in the nursery setting, but the descriptions make it apparent which ones you are buying.
Zonal geraniums are created by stem cuttings and produce larger flower heads and leaves. Zonal refers to the dark circle rings in the leaves of the plant. These types prefer full sun and have an upright and mounding growth pattern. They typically are well-branched and can grow up to 18 inches in one season.
Seed geraniums are grown from seed. They are similar to the zonal types, but they have smaller flower heads and leaves. They will grow up to 1 foot tall and are mound forming. These are usually the types you see in mass plantings and window boxes.
Ivy geraniums have waxy, thicker leaves forming a trailing habit. They are perfect for hanging baskets and prefer to be in an east location away from the hot afternoon sun. They typically have a "spidery" type of flower cluster, smaller then the other types.
The Fancy-leafed Geraniums typically have variegated leaves. The leaves can be green and white or green with shades of burgundy and yellow in them. They stand out in the garden even when they are not in bloom due to their vegetative color.
Stellar geraniums are unique in the fact that they have deeply cut leaves and flowers. The flowers have a star or cactus-like type of appearance when blooming. This type can tolerate less sun than most geraniums.
Regal geraniums prefer an east side location away from the hot afternoon sun and cooler temperatures. They are better known as the Martha Washington series of geraniums. They have an azalea-like flower and are a gorgeous addition to the family of geraniums. They tend to bloom earlier and later in the season and less in the heat of summer.
Geraniums prefer at least five hours of sunlight a day with well-drained soil. They can tolerate dry conditions but prefer more moisture and biweekly fertilizing for vigorous growth. They are a plant with few diseases and pests which make them ideal for the garden and containers. Always remember to snip off the faded blooms to promote new flushes of flowers throughout the season for the best show.
After perusing the many choices available, we come to understand why this plant is seen in so many different landscapes and in so many different countries of the world. It is a heart-stopper and an eye-catcher wherever it is planted and when we see it in mass plantings, it will literally take your breath away. If that is the end result, then it is a plant material well worth pursuing.
Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!