Hooray – the daylight hours are getting longer! Spring and summer are ahead of us so let’s make our garden displays in 2020 our very best ever!
Of course, lots of us keep geraniums growing through the winter months to display again and at this time of year I recommend that you undertake a good review of the care that your geraniums are receiving. By doing this you will be giving them the very best chance for them to give you the very best display over the summer. A little time spent now will reap rewards later on.
So what are we trying to achieve? It’s simple … a happy geranium!
Here are the elements that you can influence that will make your geraniums really happy – of course they won’t smile back at you but they are going to burst into bloom earlier and so we can take that as their sign of their joy! More about types of geranium with Plant Spot – plant identifier app.
The more light a geranium has the better it will flourish – at this time of year with the days getting longer, the plants will naturally start to grow more quickly. If they are in a greenhouse or conservatory have a look at the glass and see if you can improve the light levels in any way – a good splash of water and a clean maybe to wash away any grime that has built up over recent months. If they are on a windowsill make sure they are as near to the light as possible.
Geraniums don’t need massive amounts of heat to keep them going. At best they must be frost free as they will die if they freeze through (I always say to think of a cucumber or tomato being frozen – it would never recover and would be ruined and the same is true of geraniums!). Keep them at 3 to 5 degrees centigrade and they’ll be happy as Larry (whoever Larry is – I wonder where that saying comes from!). Geraniums originate from Africa so the nearer their conditions are to that climate, the better they’ll do … however with the price of fuel nowadays we can’t possibly indulge them that much! In fact if they are too warm they produce soft growth which isn’t good for producing a sturdy plant for later, so a low heat is best at this time of year.
Fresh, dry air
Geraniums like dry air so if they are in a greenhouse do make sure you open the windows from time to time to allow fresh air to circulate otherwise you’ll risk finding a moulding rotten heap in the greenhouse! Even on chilly days open the windows or door for a little while to get some clean air in.
The biggest threat to a geranium is overwatering. Keep just moist at all times – never bone dry and never soaking wet. Remember that the roots need oxygen around them in order to breathe so if they are sitting in puddles of water they will drown which is a pretty miserable thought. One good tip is to lift the pot and feel the weight – you’ll soon get used to what a dry pot and a wet pot feels like and it saves poking fingers in there to have a feel!
Your geraniums won’t need feeding until March time so just keep it to light watering for now. If they’ve been in the same compost for a long time it is a good idea to repot into fresh general purpose compost – this will give them a nice lot of fresh nutrients. Also over time the compost compacts through repeated watering so new compost will loosen this up and air can circulate around the roots and so enhancing the performance of the plant.
In the same way that we don’t like being squashed up on a crowded bus or train, geraniums don’t like being packed in tightly together. We all know that greenhouses are valuable spaces in winter (and as mentioned before, with the high price of fuel every bit of the greenhouse has to be used!) but it’s a good idea to space and turn the pots so that air can circulate freely all around. This will also give the plant a chance to grow in a much more rounded shape and so when summer comes they won’t be tall, gangly plants that have been stretching up to the light.
Go through each plant and the benches and remove any dead leaves that have fallen or any that are yellowing on the plants – the cleaner the environment they are in, the less chance of rot and mould setting in.