Why Don’t Geraniums Get More Respect?

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By Jill Brooke

Along with blueberries and lobsters, Maine is a glorious place for geraniums.

“It’s a state where you see them in window boxes and in gardens,” says Marna Ringel of  The Essential Florist, who took this picture at Chase Farms. “Even in late summer, geraniums are a great addition to a garden.”

Not only that but geraniums come in a variety of colors – including hot pink and tangerine orange. Plus they are flowers that rebloom.

Consider using them in your garden or even indoors. They are both versatile and pretty. 

However, they love sunshine so keep them in a happy bright place.

Our gardening editor Linda Lee loves geraniums because they have such a lovely subtle scent.

She also considers them one of her top 5 easy flowers to grow. 

Here are some of her maintenance tips.

1) Ball-shaped geraniums (Pelargonium) love to grow, so much that they get leggy, and can barely hold up their big heads. It is up to you to cut them back so they can be pretty again. 

2)   Get rid of yellow and dead leaves. Green is what you want to see.

3)  Cut out the deadwood. Squeeze a suspect stem. If it collapses, it is hollow, Click Clack. Geraniums do not bloom on woody stems. You have to encourage new growth.

4)  Now, step back and look at the shape. No crossed stems. Snip if there is one.

5)  A minor pruning will remove just dead flowers. If the plant has gotten out of hand, take off a third of each stem. No worries, it will spring back floriferously, if it has enough sun.

6) Geraniums don’t like sitting in soggy soil. So make sure your pots have holes for drainage.

Bonus tip: Stick what you cut off in water. Voila, you can grow new geraniums indoors.

Last but not least. when you tire of growing Pelargonium in pots, look up “species geranium,” or real geraniums which are perennials known as cranesbill. Actually most of the geraniums you are buying at the nursery are Pelargonium but are now known as geraniums.

In 1753, Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus classified them under the genus Geranium. When it was later discovered that these new “geraniums” differed from European geraniums in the shape of their petals, the number of stamens, and other factors, they were reclassified under Pelargonium, meaning “stork’s bill”—a reference to the long, sharply pointed shape of their seedpod.

Their original common name stuck, however, and we still say “geranium” when we actually mean “pelargonium.”

Florist Marna Ringel also appreciates how these flowers are used in essential oils. “Geranium oils release negative memories and take you back to peaceful joyful moments,” she says. “It also helps ease nervous tension and balances emotions.”

It really is a flower that doesn’t demand center stage and just delivers beauty with little fuss.

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