How to: grow amazing geraniums
The plants I'm talking about here are botanically speaking Pelargonium though commonly called geranium. True Geranium species are delicate-looking perennials, usually with blue flowers.
The Pelargoniums I’m going to call geraniums are low-maintenance ground covers that love dry conditions, are happy in windy spots, handle neglect and come in vibrant colours of pink, red, magenta and purple, and in delicate pastels. Perfect as pot plants, they also suit a cottage or perennial garden.
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We grow lots of scented geraniums. Brushing past the foliage releases ginger, lime, lemon, rose, orange, nutmeg, apple or cinnamon. The leaves and flowers are edible and can be used to make herbal teas, or to flavour vinegar, syrups, sauces and jellies. You can even add a couple of leaves to the pot when you're making custard or stewing fruit. My favourite use is to throw the leaves in the bathtub - before I throw myself in - for the perfect post-garden soak.
Follow our tips for success with these old favourites.
Remove old leaves and flower stems and tip prune constantly.Pinching out the growing tip results in a fuller, thicker, healthier plant, and won’t impact flowering if you pinch back to the beginning of a flower bud.
Prune after the main spring flowering flush, again in January, and then in March or April cut them back by a third to generate lots of new growth.
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There are two options: apply a controlled-release fertiliser when planting and top it up sooner than recommended, (for example, if the fertiliser claims nine months, apply another dose after six); alternatively apply a complete water-soluble fertiliser every third watering. This is more time-consuming but results are great. (Water before fertilising if the plant is completely dry.)
Most geraniums won’t last forever (an exception are the ‘regal’ types) so you need to propagate. Take cuttings in autumn, using pieces that aren’t too young or too long. Trim away lower leaves and cut remaining leaves in half. Dip into hormone gel and insert into sterile potting mix.