Do you want to fill your beds, patio containers, hanging baskets and window boxes with a profusion of gorgeous geraniums this summer? Here’s our pick of the best independent articles, YouTube videos and Instagram posts to help you create a show-stopping display of perfect pelargoniums.
Pelargoniums (also commonly known as tender, or non-hardy geraniums) come in a fantastic array of colours, shapes and scents. Browse our full range of geranium plants for traditional favourites and inspirational new varieties.
- Best advice on different types of geraniums (pelargoniums)
- Best advice on zonal pelargoniums
- Best advice on regal pelargoniums
- Best advice on scented pelargoniums
Best advice on different types of geraniums (pelargoniums)
Pelargoniums are often referred to as geraniums but are actually different plants, explains The Sunday Gardener Carol Bartlett in her article on how to grow pelargoniums. She says that six distinct types of pelargonium are commonly available: “Angel, Ivy-leaved, Regal, Scented-leaved, Unique and Zonal,” all of which do best in full sun. An experienced gardener, Carol also recommends growing them in a conservatory.
Not sure how to tell the difference between true geraniums and pelargoniums? Consult professional gardener Sue Russell at @russellinthebushes123. As you can clearly see from her photo, “the two upper petals of pelargonium flowers are different from the three lower petals, whereas the five petals of geranium flowers are identical.” Follow Sue on Insta for more helpful seasonal tips.
Think that pelargoniums are “something your granny grows”? Once you’ve read Louise Findlay-Wilson’s article over at Blooming Lucky, you’ll never see these blooms in the same way again. From vertical planting to the perfect partners to pair with pelargoniums for maximum impact, there’s no end of inspiration here.
Best advice on zonal pelargoniums
Do you love to grow zonal pelargoniums? So does Ray from Gardening for Beginners as they’re one of the few flowers that slugs don’t demolish! Watch Ray’s geranium growing video guide as he demonstrates how to start them off from seeds. Using a mixture of free-draining compost and sand, he keeps them indoors at a temperature of about 20 degrees celsius to help them germinate.
Zonal geraniums can also be propagated from cuttings, as YouTuber Phill generously demonstrates in his excellent video over at Phill Wyatt Projects. He learnt the secret to healthy root growth from his gran, who showed him how to sprout his cuttings in a jar of water “just out of direct sunlight”. Watch Phill’s full video to see how it’s done.
It might seem counterintuitive to remove the heads of your zonal pelargoniums when they’re in full bloom, but it will help you to enjoy beautiful flowers for longer. Over at The Pink Wheelbarrow, gardener and writer M.T. O’Donnell recommends deadheading your pelargoniums just before going on holiday. This provides the new buds underneath with light and air so they’ll “burst forth on your return”.
If you want to keep your favourite zonals over the winter, watch Nick’s video on saving and storing tender geraniums at his YouTube Channel, UKGardening. Bring your zonal geraniums indoors as houseplants and they’ll continue to grow quite happily. To overwinter in a greenhouse, conservatory or porch, Nick takes the “more drastic” approach of cutting back almost all the growth in order to put the plant into “hibernation mode” for storing.
Pelargoniums love sunlight, so if you’re going to turn your tender geraniums into houseplants they will need a sunny location indoors. Joe Bagley of ukhouseplants.com recommends “a south-facing window for optimum growth and health”. You’ll need to carefully manage the temperature, humidity and soil moisture to make sure the plant gets a dormant period in winter, which is crucial for summer flowering. Read Joe’s helpful article for practical advice.
Best advice on regal pelargoniums
If Regal pelargoniums are your favourite, the good news is that they can be grown indoors or outside. Over at Gardeners Tips, Tejvan does both, and highly recommends these gorgeous “blousy” blooms, which “provide great colour and style”. Regals require more water than standard varieties and Tejvan keeps his in a sheltered spot to protect their frills and ruffles from inclement weather.
To support potted regal pelargoniums in bad weather, Paul Machen of Happy Sowing Happy Growing builds clever triangular frames from canes and plastic-coated steel wire (or twine) to prevent his plants from snapping in the wind. Watch his YouTube video for the full tutorial.
Over at The Pelargonium and Geranium Society, David Taylor’s video about watering pelargoniums is a must-watch for anyone wondering how best (and how much) to water these plants. Pelargoniums thrive when allowed to dry out between waterings and hate to have saturated roots. To avoid this, David waters from the base rather than the top. Known as ‘Mr Pelargonium’ for good reason, watch his helpful demonstration of how to water a dry regal while getting a peak at his impressively stocked greenhouse!
Planning to move your pelargoniums into larger pots for bigger displays of flowers? Don’t, says YouTube gardener Geoff – “smaller is better!” After potting on his regals, he found that they used all their energy to develop new foliage, leaving nothing in the tank for flowers. Fortunately, it’s possible to rejuvenate overgrown geraniums. Visit Tropical Plants at 53 Degrees to watch Geoff’s helpful video on how to root-prune pelargoniums.
Best advice on scented pelargoniums
If scent is your thing, there are over a hundred different varieties of scented pelargoniums ranging from fruity and spicy to mint and even chocolate, enthuses Karen Creel in a guest post published on Lovely Greens. Read Karen’s excellent advice on how to propagate scented geraniums from cuttings. You can do it at any time of year, but she says that autumn is the best time.
Scented pelargoniums release their fragrance when the leaves are rubbed, making them an ideal choice for the sensory garden at the school where gardener Roger Crookes helps out. He prunes the scented geraniums in early spring “to encourage lots of bushy, new growth from the base” as well as plenty of flowers come summertime. Watch the full video to see how he goes about creating a “dome of foliage”. In another video, Roger experimented with pruning scented geraniums into ‘lollipops’ or standards. Have a quick look to see how it turned out!
The secret to overwintering scented pelargoniums is to keep them “on the very dry side” and not feed them,explains Zoe in her video at Zoe Woodward Gardening. She removes all the foliage “so they take up minimal space,” making them easier to store in a greenhouse. Her top tip? Make sure your pelargoniums are clearly labelled, as “once we remove the foliage it’s going to be difficult in the spring to know which one is which.”
We hope you’ve found plenty of inspiration to try growing your own pelargoniums! And although we often treat tender pelargoniums as annuals, if you grow them as a houseplant, there’s no reason you can’t keep them for decades, as this Suttons customer demonstrates: https://hub.suttons.co.uk/blog/planting-flowers/geranium-still-going-strong-18-years
Lead image: Geranium ‘Jackpot Mixed’ F1 Hybrid from Suttons
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