Gardening: Geraniums cope with almost anything
SPRING is here and garden centres everywhere are a riot of colour.
Geranium Big Red, released a few years ago, has proven itself to be a great plant, thanks to its deep red blooms and ability to handle any weather conditions, including our humid, wet times.
Big Rose, Big Pink and Big Burgundy all share the same lovely bright green foliage, brilliant large flower heads and extraordinary disease resistance.
This year the new kid on the block is another outstanding variety, Oh So Orange.
It too is a compact form, perfect for pots, with interesting foliage and masses of iridescent orange blooms. Definitely one for the collection.
What we call geraniums are actually zonal pelargoniums but let's not worry about that.
These perennial, small shrubby plants have a woody base but the young shoots are soft and tender. The roundish leaves with wavy edges are held on long, sturdy stems.
In fact, the name "zonal" refers to the band of colour that is often present on the leaves.
Geraniums bloom profusely. Their flowers normally have five petals and are held in clusters at the end of strong, erect stems.
There are single, semi-double and double-flowered forms in a number of colours, including many shades of red, crimson, pink, salmon, orange and white.
Geraniums will produce an almost continuous show of flowers from spring through summer and into autumn.
They are tolerant of dry conditions, thanks to their fleshy stems and leaves. The ideal position is sunny and well-drained.
A large pot or hanging basket filled with geraniums looks spectacular.
In prolonged dry periods, the flowering will diminish if you don't water occasionally, although the plant itself will survive.
Feed with a complete fertiliser during the active growing period. Remove spent flowers to keep the plants looking tidy.
At the end of autumn, when flowering has come to an end, a light prune all over will produce more flowers in the following season.
In terms of pests and diseases, not much bothers a geranium. Fungal diseases may develop in overly wet or shady conditions and can be controlled by removing and disposing of affected leaves.
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