What Did The Base Jumping Gardener Say?… Geranium!
It was wonderful to be back at the market again and it was fun to announce it was International Geranium Day! Every year I seem to over plant something, this year it was Geraniums, last year it was Tarragon and the year before Oregano. My lord those seeds are small and everyone of them must have germinated. International Geranium Day was a great success and it brought up a few questions that of course I had to investigate. Most Geraniums as we know them originated in South Africa although some species come from New Zealand, Australia and the Middle East. They have been gracing our gardens for about 3 centuries now having been first introduced to Europe in the 1600’s. They are actually a perennial in countries that do not have temperatures as low as ours is over the winter, they prefer a temperature of around 65 to 70 degrees. They can grow to a height varying from 12 inches to a staggering 6 feet. Most varieties like lots of sunshine but will tolerate some shade. They are heat loving and drought resistant and actually will suffer if overwatered especially as seedlings where they can be subject to damping off and various fungal diseases. They should be planted where they will receive about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight and planted at the same level as they are in the pots they come in. Plant 8 to 12 inches apart and mulching them In our hot summers is not a bad idea. Fertilize about once a month and dead head as needed to promote future blooms and keep them looking healthy and attractive. They are wonderful in garden beds and borders, hanging baskets and in individual pots. They can also be grown indoors where they should have lots of light to promote the best blooms. There are four basic varieties of Geranium the most common being the Zonal variety this is the one most of us are familiar with and plant as an annual, however I lift the plant in the fall, shake off the dirt and put in boxes in my cold room and achieve about a 70 percent success rate when I plant them the following year and of course each year they grow larger. My four year old plants require a pot of at least 12 or more inches and are too big to bring to market but are a stunning plant on my deck. They are also are easy to propagate by just cutting off a piece and either directly planting it in soil with a rooting hormone or allowing the cutting to sit in water for a short time to develop some roots. Then there are the Ivy Geraniums which have a smaller flower but like an Ivy will climb or drape over the edge of a pot. There are also Scented Leaf Geraniums again with smaller flowers but have a variety of aromas which are activated when the leaves are touched such as apple, lemon, mint, rose and of course citronella which may or may not repel the mosquito which this year with the hot dry weather does not seem to be much of a problem. Then there is the Regal Geranium which actually likes a cooler temperature, hot weather will cause it to quit flowering until it cools to a 60 to 70 degree average. As with most flowers there are meanings to the Geranium that were used to send a specific message many years ago. Given as a house warming gift it means an offer of friendship and wishes for good health and a symbol of happiness. White was often given as a gift for brides as it was thought to promote fertility and is symbol of innocence, Red stands for good health, and pink is used in love spells. The oil in the leaves of the Geranium is used in poultices to heal wounds and relieve pain.
I have a few more Geraniums that I would love to see go to a good home so I will be holding another International Geranium Day at the market this coming Saturday so stop by and grab a couple for that empty spot in the yard!
BS Ranch & Greenhouses
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