How To Grow And Care For Geraniums

Whether you have a garden in your backyard, or have a little planter on your window sill, if you are growing germanium’s, then you want the absolute best geranium care possible.

Here you will find plenty of tips and tricks in caring for your germanium, with everything from how to grow them, to caring for them so you have a beautiful garden.


Garden geraniums can be planted anywhere – flower bed, border planting, edging, window box, patio planter – as long as they have five hours or more sunlight daily and a well-drained soil.

Geranium foliage is handsome and with flowers too, who could ask for more? Many would mistake geraniums for pelargonium.

However, geranium and pelargoniums have differences.

Geraniums have clean, bushy growing habits that make pruning or pinching small problems.

Poor Flowers? Start New

If your geraniums give poor flowers and growing them no longer seems worthwhile, buy some new stock of currently recommended varieties — you’ll be in for a real shot in the arm from your geraniums!

For a special treat, plant a patio container with several different scented geraniums, one or two with fancy foliage, and an ivy-leaf variety.

Set it on your back porch steps, or by the front walk where you can catch a whiff of the pungent odors as you pass.


If your garden soil packs into a brick-like ball, add peat moss until a handful of the loam will crumble in your hand after being squeezed.

What’s the best fertilizer for geraniums?

Bone meal is always safe and satisfactory for geraniums but does not produce such spectacular plants as the experienced use of some good, well-balanced fertilizer like a 5-5-5. Liquid food is a good geranium fertilizer that will produce robust, richly flowering plants.

When the weather turns impossible, July-fashion, geraniums will keep right on growing and blooming if they are watered thoroughly as often as needed to keep the soil moist.

A light mulch will help conserve moisture.

Window boxes, patio tubs, and pots dry out almost daily in torrid weather.

Cut off old blooms and yellow leaves so your geraniums won’t be mistaken for those of Peter Tumbledown.

Bright Colorful Geraniums – A Look Back

Looking back to last spring, I can see it was a good move to put a container full of geraniums at the back door, just off the terrace.

There in the morning sunlight, they grew luxuriantly, transforming the area to exciting golden-chartreuse, accented here and there with generous clusters of scarlet.


Today, geraniums themselves actually perform many “color” miracles, they’ve come a long way from geranium maculatum the common cranesbill geranium.

In my own garden where there is always more to be done than time allows, I rely on geraniums for color, interesting leaf shape, and fragrance from the first warm days of spring until frost.

We all want color in our gardens. Geraniums can provide the brilliant hue, the soft pastel, or the snow-white. Geraniums come in nearly every shade of orange, apricot, red, pink. lavender, and pure white.

In addition, there are white and pale-colored kinds that have a darker center or “phlox eye.”

Related Reading:

Then there’s fragrance—camphor, lime, orange, apple, apricot, almond, lemon, allspice, rose, mint, nutmeg, coconut, strawberry, filbert, ginger, peppermint, and peach – from the scented leaf species and varieties.

While these are not generally cultivated for showy flowers, they do have attractive foliage, and the fragrance is something we all seek for today’s gardens.

Haven’t you heard someone worry aloud lately over its absence from certain modern roses?

Varied and Versatile Geraniums

Variable growth habits within a plant family help make geraniums useful in many places around the garden. Geraniums offer plenty in this category.

First, the dwarfs—miniature versions of the common garden geranium – mature at 6″ inches or less.

Then the semidwarfs reach 18″ inches, and finally, the regular kinds which make compact bushes two feet tall and as wide in one season.

These may have plain green leaves, or dark, horseshoe-shaped zones, and some of the fancy leaf varieties have tricolored foliage.

Ivy geraniums have five-lobed leaves which resemble English ivy, and they bear huge clusters of flowers.

These plants grow best when allowed to cascade from a hanging basket. window box, or off the side of a big tub or urn.

In the warm Southwest ivy geranium plants are valued as ground covers for sunny banks and terraces.

Hardy geraniums, also known as cranesbill geranium or geranium Rozanne, bloom beautiful flowers with shades of white, pink, purple, magenta, and blue.

The stems of Rozanne geraniums hold their flowers above the foliage.

They may seem quite attractive but they can resist deer and rabbits too.

Standard Geraniums Are Possible

Then there are geraniums which grow strongly upright, almost climbers, to espalier on a wall, or train up a trellis.

And through careful training, regular garden geraniums and some of the ivy leaves may be shaped to standard form, as the tree rose seen outdoors.

The most modern way of starting bedding geraniums is to grow them from seeds planted in March or early April for blooms beginning in July.

Several seed strains are on the market. The least expensive are hybrids of the common geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum or zonal geranium) with single flowers in shades of scarlet, red, salmon-pink, deep rose, lavender, and pure white.

On the other hand, geranium macrorrhizum got pale pink flowers and gained popularity for its aromatherapy and anti-microbial properties.

Geranium seeds are about half the size of a grain of wheat.

Plant them on the surface of a moist mixture of equal parts garden soil, sand (or Perlite), and peat moss.

Place the geranium seeds about an inch apart.

Cover them, but just barely, with the same soil mixture, or with sand or vermiculite.

Press this down firmly with the flat of your hand.

Keep the planting evenly moist and in the same good growing conditions, you might give newly sown tomato or marigold seeds.

Quick Response From Seeds

The first seedlings may show in a week, others will appear erratically, even after several months.

Transplant individual seedlings when the first true leaves are about a half-inch in diameter. They may go first to 2 1/4 inch pots, then to three’s.

Early bloom will be promoted by cramped root space – even if you want to bed the seedlings directly in the ground, leave each in a four or five-inch pot merely sunk to its rim in the soil.


Pinching out the growing tip will promote bushiness, but at the same time put off that exciting moment when the first blossoms open.

You may get around this to some extent by waiting to pinch until a cluster of buds is well defined.

Then carefully remove the growing tip, leaving the buds unharmed.

While they develop and give color, the plant will be busy making side shoots to give more bloom without much delay between flowerings.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of growing from seeds; or if you have definite color schemes in mind, buy rooted geranium cuttings in the spring.

Usually, you can purchase these locally with the advantages of seeing what you are getting and checking exact flower colors, or you may order them online, or by mail from a specialist who will be able to give you a wonderful selection of varieties in countless flower colors and foliage types.

Quick Tips For Summertime Geranium Care Success

Here is a brief guide to success with outdoor geranium care in the summertime:

(1) Soil – Use a mixture of three parts garden loam, and one part each of peat moss and sand.

Plants will benefit from the addition of a heaping teaspoon of steamed bone meal to each five-inch pot of soil.

In very hot and dry climates, use a mixture of equal parts garden loam and peat moss; it will be more retentive of moisture and require less frequent watering.

(2) Moisture – Keep geranium soil as evenly moist as possible. Avoid extremes of dryness and wetness.

(3) Light – Geraniums depend on at least four or five hours of direct sunlight in the summer for good flower production.

They’ll appreciate midday shade in climates where the summer weather is torrid.

As a rule, the common garden geranium can tolerate more hot sun than the fancy leaf and ivy types.

(4) Maintenance – During warm weather, feed geraniums in active growth once or twice a month. Use a 5-10-5 or similar ratio to promote heavy flowering.

Spray weekly with an insecticide-fungicide mixture such as that used for roses and other ornamentals. Keep dead blossom clusters and yellowing leaves removed.

(5) Propagation – Six-inch tip cuttings of healthy growth can be taken at any time through the summer.

Taking Geranium Cuttings

This is usually done in August to preserve a collection of geraniums through the winter.

Remove lower leaves from the cutting, and insert them to a depth of 2″ inches in moist sand, vermiculite or Perlite.

Rooting occurs within eight weeks, and the cutting may then be transplanted to a three-inch pot of regular geranium soil.

Another way to take geraniums through the winter is to save the old plants.

Those which are in pots and tubs require only enough cutting back to make them small enough for the sunny space available indoors.

In the absence of this kind of location, try letting the soil become nearly dry; cut the tops back to a few inches above the soil, and store the plants in this state in a frost-free basement.

Be sure that the soil never becomes completely dry through the winter.

In the spring these plants will respond rapidly to warmth and sunlight. When new growth is active, repot to fresh soil and begin to provide more moisture.

To save plants growing directly in the garden, dig them prior to frost, trim back the roots sufficiently to fit them into pots of convenient size, and cut back the tops to within a few inches of the pot rim.

If possible, locate in a sunny, cool location where there is fresh air, otherwise, keep in a basement or other frost-free place until spring.

Uses Of Geranium Plants

Extracts of the plants are used and turned into geranium essential oils. The geranium oil serves as a holistic treatment for many conditions such as anxiety, hormonal imbalance, acne treatment, and reducing inflammation.

Different geranium plant species make a great aromatherapy agent. It also possesses effective anti-microbial properties.

Because of their attractive flowers, geranium plants also serve as beautiful ornamental plants. The geranium cantabrigiense, another geranium plant species attracts butterflies making it great for flower gardens.

Images: uwdigitalcollections | Ken Bosma

JOIN Our FREE Plant Care Newsletter 

By entering your email address you agree to receive a daily email newsletter from Plant Care Today. We'll respect your privacy and unsubscribe at any time.