Learn more and buy the 2015 Old Farmer's Almanac!

Geraniums

PrintPrintEmailEmail
Your rating: None Average: 3.4 of 5 (16 votes)

Botanical name: Pelargonium

Plant type: Houseplant

USDA Hardiness Zones: 10, 11

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Sandy

Flower color: Multicolor

Geraniums are a longtime favorite of Almanac gardeners. They are easy to grow, colorful, and many add a lovely scent to the home. Although, they are also an outdoor plant, they can be kept indoors to overwinter. Or, they can bloom indoors all year long with enough light.

Planting

  • When buying geraniums, look for color and size. Healthy leaves will have no discoloration on or below them and stems will be sturdy, not straggly. Be sure to avoid any plants with obvious signs of pests as well.
  • Place plants in pots with drainage holes to avoid root rot. Do not use a saucer beneath your pot unless filled with pebbles.
  • Use soil-less potting mixture (not dirt) when planting in containers.
  • For maximum bloom, place the plants in an area where they will get 4-6 hours of sunlight daily.

Care

  • Allow to dry between waterings, then water thoroughly.
  • During the winter water much less, but do not let the roots dry out.
  • To encourage blooming, deadhead spent flowers. 
  • To promote bushiness and avoid legginess, pinch the stems.
  • During active growing months, fertilize every 2 weeks. Use a water-soluable fertilizer at half strength. Don't fertilize in winter.
  • Geraniums can be re-potted as needed during the spring to be refreshed.

Pests

Common problems can be low light or too much or too little water.  The leaves will turn yellow as an indication you are watering too little or too much in which case, try to even the watering out and move the geraniums to a brighter place.

Recommended Varieties

  • The Common or Zonal Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) thrives in containers (as well as outdoors).
  • Ivy-Leaf Geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) are very popular for hanging baskets, window-boxes, and containers. 

Wit & Wisdom

  • For minor cuts, apply crushed geranium leaves to stop the bleeding.
  • In the language of flowers, scarlet geranium means silliness.

 

Comments

Are Geraniums leafs are safe

By Clara Alexander on October 17

Are Geraniums leafs are safe to eat to cats?

According to the ASPCA,

By Almanac Staff on October 17

According to the ASPCA, common or zonal geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) are toxic to cats and dogs. However, other sources say that these plants rarely cause a serious reaction and are usually only mildly toxic. (It might depend on how much the pet ate.) The plants can cause skin irritation (there might be some swelling in and around the mouth), and if ingested, the pet might vomit to get rid of the irritant plant tissue. Depression or lack of appetite might also be symptoms. If you suspect that your pet has eaten the leaves or flowers of geraniums, it's safest to consult with your vet, who knows your pet's overall health condition and issues. Describe to your vet the symptoms and s/he may be able to determine whether the pet should be examined or tell you what signs to watch for and how to keep the pet comfortable.
 
As to true geraniums (Geranium spp.), also called cranesbills or hardy geraniums, we can not find information about their toxicity to pets.

I live in Minnesota and want

By Mary Henne on October 5

I live in Minnesota and want to keep my geraniums over the winter with the least care. What is the best method that you would recommend? I had some luck placing them in a paper bag / cool place but not sure if this should be before or after the hard freeze.... and if the plant should be dried up or fresh out of the ground with or without dirt.

Hi, Mary: It's hard to tell

By Almanac Staff on October 6

Hi, Mary: It's hard to tell which requires the least care--transplanting to pots, regrowing from cuttings, or letting go dormant--but we suspect the latter is what you want. Carefully dig up your plants now. Carefully shake off any dirt and loose/dead leaves/stems. Remove any sign of mold or other disease. Repeat: Inspect carefully for mold. Place in your (unheated) basement in a way that allows for good air circulation (we put groups in paper bags and hang from the floor joists). Over the winter, they will dry out substantially but hopefully still retain enough moisture to be viable come, say, February. Take a peek every now and then to be sure. (If they seem to be really drying out, accelerate the repotting schedule.) When you're ready to restart in pots, use soil-less mixture and cut back the remaining stems to a point where you can see green life. Water and fertilize lightly but regularly, and replant outside after the projected date of your last frost, which in your area occurs about May 14. Good luck!

I have 2 geraniums here in

By Ann Grassel

I have 2 geraniums here in Walnut Creek, CA. I have huge plants with little or now flowers in pots in my sunroom. They get plenty of sun and I have been using a 10-52-10 fertilizer.
What can I do to get it to bloom and how often should I fertilize?
Thanks

In terms of sunlight, is it

By Almanac Staff

In terms of sunlight, is it really bright and direct at least four hours a day? In terms of fertilizer, use a more balanced fertilizer: 15-15-15 or 20-20-20. Finally, you could always repot with new potting soil mixture. Before you do, hold back the watering for 6 to 8 weeks until it's not quite dry and cut it back. After repotting, start watering again, fully moistening the soil, and then allow the top half-inch of soil to dry before watering again. Also, we would try summering your geraniums outdoors if you can.
 

I found small green worms

By ruth davis

I found small green worms eating the blooms on my plants. They are eating only the blooms. What are they and what do I need to do get get rid of them before bringing them inside

Hi, Ruth, Allow us to

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Ruth, Allow us to introduce you to the geranium budworm, aka tobacco budworm. At maturity, these are moths that lay a single egg at night on the geranium buds. The larvae color may be red or green. These turn into caterpillars that drop into the soil and pupate. As the days grow shorter and seasons transition, the insects "hibernates" in the soil, staying for the winter.
Handpicking is the most common control. Around dusk, look for the worms when you see holes in the leaves or flowers. In daylight they hang around the base of the plant.
If your geraniums are potted, change the soil.
Numerous wasps, bugs  (e.g., Polistes spp. wasps, bigeye bug, damsel bug, minute pirate bugs), and spiders are natural enemies.
We hope this helps.

I've had geranium plants

By Sheila Barrett

I've had geranium plants inside in winter and outside in summer for 3 years now and they have done beautifully until now. I've repotted
them in the Fall and in the Spring. I
have them in a sunny window. They are no longer flowering and they were sooo beautiful for the past 3 winters. I have always rooted cuttings successfully also but this year none are rooting. I'm baffled. Is it because of age? Any advice would be
appreciated. Sheila

In northern climates, we tend

By Almanac Staff

In northern climates, we tend to store our geraniums in the basement, then repot and bring into a sunny window in February; grow lights help, too.
You've had quite the green thumb. Three years of continuous bloom is impressive. We don't know where you live. Has the sunlight been especially low this winter? Geraniums need strong, bright light, but not direct sunlight. You could always add supplemental lighting. Once the plants photosynthesize more, they should bloom again. You can always repot as well.

Post new comment

Before posting, please review all comments. Due to the volume of questions, Almanac editors can respond only occasionally, as time allows. We also welcome tips from our wonderful Almanac community!

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.