How to care for geraniums

How to care for Geraniums

Last Updated on January 31, 2021 by Paul Guzman

How to care for Geraniums.  Geraniums are great plants to use in the ground, pots, or hanging containers.  They do well in and around the Southwest, however, there are some things to consider before using them in your garden.

Geraniums love the full sun during the spring and fall seasons but not the full hot southwest sun during mid-summer so it’s best to place them where there is afternoon shade.

They can tolerate drought conditions and don’t mind if you plant them in pots, as a matter of fact, they thrive in containers.

Geraniums in Containers - outdoors
Blooming Geraniums in Pots


What kind of soil do Geraniums want?

It’s always best to use good well-composted soil that is loamy and drains well if you are planting them in the ground.   If you live in places where it does not freeze they will last all year long (perennial) providing you care for them accordingly.

Use a good potting mix if you are planting them in containers. The main thing to remember is to make sure your pots drain well.  They can easily develop root rot if the root system stays in water too long.

Geraniums are considered succulents this means they do not like to be watered consistently.   Matter of fact during the growing season wait until they dry out before watering again.

Feeding Geraniums

If you want your geraniums to look bright and beautiful you should fertilize them about twice per month.  A good all-purpose 20-20-20 fertilize will work well, however, if your plant is not blooming you might want to purchase a fertilizer with a higher concentration of phosphorus, something like BR-61’s 9-58-8 analysis will help with making new flowers.  Remember to water your plants first before applying fertilizer.  The best seasonal time to feed Geraniums is in early spring.  Hold off feeding during the winter season.

Where to place Geraniums

You can place them in full sun but if you live in a hot arid climate zone they will do better with morning sun and afternoon shade. In the patio or courtyard with afternoon, shade works well. Or placed underneath a large shade tree that provides filtered light is good.

Put them in hanging baskets and place them in the patio or hang them around the courtyard.

How to care for Geraniums
Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay

What type of colors do they come in?

They come in numerous gorgeous colors and varieties.  From deep dark purple to bright pink and cold-blinding white. The blooming season starts in early summer and ends in late fall.  The secret to having them bloom all season long is “dead-heading” the more your clip off older blooms the more often they will bloom again, and again.

Background or texture of colorful royal flowers of geranium


How to make Geraniums bloom again and again.

There are two things needed for making geraniums bloom often.  The first one is called dead-heading.  It’s really simple just remove the old blooms often and you will be rewarded with new ones.  The second thing is fertilizer.

You should always fertilize geraniums with a high concentration of phosphorus…as this element is what makes all plants bloom or make more flowers.  How often? Good question about once a month during the growing season March, April, May, and June.

Make sure your container drains well too much fertilizer and you will change the PH level of your soil.  You should always water first then feed and water one more time for the best results.

Types of Geraniums

Ivy Geraniums

Pelargonium peltatum flower
Andrew Massyn via Wikimedia Commons

Ivy Geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) are somewhat different the blooms are narrow but long and the leaves are almost heart-shaped than the zonal Geraniums.

Zonal or Garden Geraniums

Zonal Geraniums are hybrid Geranium plants that are produced to have better-looking leaves and long-lasting flowers. This is what most local nurseries will have. The care of zonal Geraniums is the same for most Geraniums.

Scented Geraniums

As the name suggests it is a Geranium that is more fragrant than others.

The Scented geranium is not really in the geranium family but they are in the Pelargonium genus family.  They look identical to most common geraniums and are tender perennials which means they come back every year and sometimes they don’t.  It depends on the harshness of your winter season.

You can, of course, use them as an indoor plant.  Make sure to place near a window or skylight as they do like the sunshine.

The Martha Washington Geraniums – Also called Regal Geraniums.  A much showier ruffled like flowers and the foliage has a spiky serrated edge to them.  These types of geraniums are a little more expensive too.  See the image below.

A huge selection of Geraniums at Guzman’s Garden Centers.


What type of problems do Geraniums have?

The biggest problems are mealy bugs these insects love Geraniums.  Mealybugs produce a white substance that resembles a white waxy powder and is a sap-sucking insect that will kill or make plants look bad.  Spray with a good insecticide to kill them.  It will take at least 2-3  applications before it works.

How to care for Geraniums
Mealy Bug and Cottony Scale on Rose Leaf

You can also use a systemic insecticide as this works by adding the insecticide into the soil, the root system takes it in and spreads throughout the plant.  Any insects sucking or chewing on the foliage will die. Learn more about insect diseases on plants.

Go organic and use insecticidal soap or neem oil to kill mealybugs or any type of insect.  If the plant is completely infested your best option is to trash the plant.  Make sure to put your plant in a plastic bag before you throw it in the trash bin.  Learn how to use insecticidal soaps.

Heard of the Mexican hat plant?

How to care for Geraniums




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