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Can you tell the difference?
Member Name: lellagrace
Advantages: Colourful show
Disadvantages: The leaves smell horrid
Many of us have been moaning about the recent rain but the geraniums in my garden seem to have loved all the wet weather!!! Never have I had such a good display of colour from the geraniums! On holidays abroad I often admire geranium displays in window boxes etc, but this summer my own displays are equally as good. It must be due to the excessive water as we have had hardly any sun!!!!Geraniums dislike being left in waterlogged conditions, so I can only assume the tubs mine are in have adequate drainage to give them their ideal growing conditions.
Geraniums belong to a family group of plants known as Geraniacea and there are many different varieties. The main group is called "Zonals" because of the different shades of colour in their leaves. We probably know them better as "bedding geraniums" or "cranesbill".
Sometimes geraniums are called, mistakenly, pelargoniums. These are in fact a different species from the geranicea family, but there are differences between the two plants.
However, for the sake of those of us who can't tell the difference, this review is about "geraniums" in general.
There are also trailing geraniums, which are useful for hanging baskets. The leaves and flowers trail down the sides of the baskets and add splashes of colour.
Geraniums come in a variety of colours and give a lovely display throughout summer, sometimes blooming well into the autumn if they are looked after.
In my garden at the moment I have pink geraniums in tubs on the patio, and red ones in the tubs by the door.
There are also white and mauve varieties too and various shades of reds and pinks.
There are different types of leaves too on geraniums. Probably one of the most well know is the ivy leafed variety, where the leaves are shaped like ivy leaves.
There are also notched leaves, variegated and even scented!
Personally I dislike the smell of the leaves on geranium plants, but it is possible to have lemon or peppermint scented varieties. These must smell nicer!
EASY TO GROW
Geraniums are easy to grow and it is so easy to take cuttings from established plants by just snipping off a part of the stem. Plant this in compost and keep it moist and you will find they root very easily.
Every year, just before frosts, I usually remove the geraniums from the tubs and put them into smaller pots to over winter on a sunny windowsill. However, last year I never got round to doing this so just moved the garden tubs into the garage and forgot about them! As spring arrived I moved them back into the garden, watered them and added a bit more compost and this year the geraniums are the best they have ever been!
Of course throughout the summer I make sure any faded blooms are removed from the plants. Also when I put them outside in spring I had to snip off the dead leaves from last year.
As with all plants, geraniums are susceptible to pests. Greenfly, whitefly and caterpillars are all common enemies and will nibble away at the leaves if not eradicated and weaken the plant. Look for the tiny flies on the undersides of the leaves or look for holes in the leaves.
To control these pests I use the pesticide sprays you can buy at the supermarkets, but my father used to spray them with water left over from the washing up! The soapsuds seemed to do the trick just as well as the chemical sprays.
Geraniums can also become "poorly" through diseases, such as mould and rust. Check the leaves for signs of these and if you find any spots of mould or brown specks, then spray with a fungicide.
I use Miracle Gro or Phostrogen as a liquid feed at fortnightly intervals on all my garden plants, including the geraniums. I like to think this encourages healthy growth and keeps the plants free from disease. But you still need to check them.
Although the summer bedding geraniums are not hardy, you can buy perennial geraniums. I have some of these in my garden and they are a lovely purple colour. We used to call them "summer geraniums", but I don't really know why when they can stay there all year! I suppose it was because they flower in summer, but then so do all geraniums! The flowering season should be between June and August, but with our erratic climate changes this is not always the case.
WHERE TO BUY
You can buy geraniums at most garden centres and on market stalls or from gardening catalogues.
It is possible to buy them as plugs, where you buy a lot of small plants and then have to carefully look after them until they are large enough to plant out.
I prefer to buy pots of the larger plants, or take cuttings. If you look after the plants they will last several years, but do remember to keep them away from frosts.
There are societies for geranium growers and shows specially for prize blooms. Although this year my plants are beautiful I don't think they are that good!!! If you want to find out more about shows look on the website for the Geranium Growers' Society
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
I think my plants are probably a mix of geraniums and pelargoniums, but I am really not sure! The only think that concerns me is that these plants are providing a colourful show in my garden this year.
Summary: Pelargonium or geranium - they are all related