Grow and care for Geraniums (Pelargoniums)
The geranium was introduced into Europe from South Africa towards the beginning of the 17th century; today it is one of the most popular of flowers. It is native to South Africa, Australia and Turkey, but is now widely grown in the temperate areas of the world.
Of the several sub-divisions of the genus the following six are the most popular.
IRENES This vigorous strain was raised in California and produces larger flower-heads in greater abundance than older varieties. Flowers are produced on long stems making them particularly suitable for arrangements and cut flowers, and are all semi-double. Spaced at not less than 18-in. intervals for correct development in beds and borders, the best results are obtained by planting first into 5-in. clay pots and sinking the pots into the ground. The following is a selection : `Springtime’, light salmon-pink;
ROSEBUD AND CACTUS VARIETIES The former
STELLAR VARIETIES, available in both single and double varieties, originated in Australia. The foliage is star-shaped (hence the name), sometimes zoned but often unmarked, and the flowers are carried on long stems. Plants will grow to over 5 ft. in Australia and California.
2 . Fancyleaf Zonals These are mainly
3. Regals (P. domesticum) These are commonly known in Britain and Australia as geraniums and in USA as show or Lady Washington geraniums. They are mainly grown in this country as pot plants and greenhouse plants but they are suitable for outside beds, borders and tubs in sheltered but sunny positions. The older varieties flower for only two or three months of the year but the modern hybrids will continue to flower for at least ten months if grown under correct conditions. Flowering de
Colors range from white to near-black through every possible shade and combination of shades (many being multi-colored), except yellow and pure blue. The flowers are usually larger than those of the zonals and the leaves are unzoned. However, there are now at least two varieties with colored foliage. ‘Miss Australia’ has silver-edged foliage and deep-pink flowers;
`Georgia Peach’, peach-pink with frilled petals (USA);
4. Ivyleaf varieties (P. peltatum) The fleshy leaves of these are shield-shaped. Flowers may be single, semi-double or double. These trailing varieties are mainly used in Britain for hanging baskets, tubs and urns, but are widely planted in other countries in bedding schemes for ground cover. Foliage may be zones or plain, and there are a few fancy-leaved varieties, including ‘Crocodile’, with a mesh-like pattern over the foliage in white or cream. Colors range through white, salmon and pink to reds and purple. The six modern varieties listed below are a vast improvement on the older ones: ‘Sybil Holmes’ (`Ailsa Garland’), rose-pink, double (USA);
5.Scented-leaf varieties There are hundreds of these since they seed readily and produce many forms with only slight variations. The aroma is released when the foliage is brushed or gently pinched with the fingers. In California and South Africa they can make bushes up to several feet in dia meter. The following six will serve as the basis for a collection: geranium ‘Cris
6.Miniatures and Dwarfs These are mostly zonals, double, semi-double and single varieties in colors ranging from white through salmon and pink to reds and purples. This classification covers mature plants normally less than 8 in. high, chiefly grown as greenhouse pot plants but they can be used very effectively in bedding schemes, wall pockets and borders. Cultivation is as for other groups but over-potting should be avoided if maximum flower is desired. They can be flowered throughout the year under the correct conditions. The color range is as for zonals. There are a few miniature regals all with mauve or purple-and-white flowers, and two miniature ivy leaves—
Among zonal varieties are ‘Black Vesuvius’, dark, almost black green leaves and scarlet flowers;
General Culture All geraniums prefer a sunny position, medium loam and shelter from north and northeast winds. They will withstand temperatures between 34°F (1°C) and 2.0° F (49°C), but will not survive frost. Propagation is by cuttings, 3-4 in. long, taken from green shoots, preferably in late July or early August (cuttings from minia tures will be shorter). Over watering should