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Overcome your snobbery and re-discover a great plant
Member Name: tomc
Date: 01/06/01, updated on 01/06/01 (1840 review reads)
Advantages: Easy care, Masses of flowers, Cheap
Disadvantages: Not everyone likes the smell!
There are many plants you associate with childhood – pansies, forget-me-nots, Californian poppies, but surely all of us have been familiar with geraniums from our earliest years. I remember as a small child being taken to one of my mother’s friends homes, a house just full of geraniums and the distinctive pungent smell sticks in my mind to this day, as does the window-sill laden with the red, white and pink flowering plants.
Geraniums are so familiar, it is difficult for many people to see any interest in them. What a shame that is: they need minimal care, last for ages and ages and produce masses of blooms throughout the year. Their leaves are attractive, but the flowers just go on and on, in a stunning range of colours, and when you think an individual plant has finally had it, it starts up again, producing new shoots and in no time at all, producing new flowers too.
Geraniums should really be called “zonal pelargoniums”, the horse-shoe shaped mark on each leaf dividing it into “zones”. They come in several different types. The bedding or most common house-plant geranium is the one you will find everywhere, with its many different colours, from white to deep red via a range of pinks, including a lovely salmon pink variety. The ivy-leaf variety with its trailing stems is ideal for hanging baskets and tubs. The scented geraniums are grown for their scent of course and the lemon-scented geranium is a particularly powerful variety with leaves which give off a strong lemon aroma even when you brush past them. The “fancy leaf” varieties have very attractive leaves of course, and we have one variety on our window-sill at the moment with the twee, old-fashioned name “Happy Thought” which has green and white zoned leaves.
Geraniums make ideal house plants but can be used in the garden throughout the summer. And there is really no difference between the varieties you buy
in trays for the garden and the individual potted varieties you buy for the home. It always amazes me when I see geraniums on sale for four or five pounds each, when you can buy a tray of mixed colours, perhaps nine or twelve plants in each, for about three pounds. If you buy them like this, you can pot them up yourself and within weeks you’ll have a lovely house plants ready for any window-sill. The books will tell you that bedding geraniums will not make good house plants but I have potted up border geraniums at the end of the summer and been surprised to have them bloom all winter on window-ledges around the house.
Generally speaking geraniums thrive when they are neglected. Over-watering will soon kill them, and the only care that is required is to pinch out the flowering tips to make them bushier, and to occasionally shape a house plant which is growing too tall or too large. In fact, you can cut them right down from time to time and they will start all over again quite happily. Its best however not to do this more than once as they tend to get rather woody and unbalanced with thick stems and small shoots.
Its easy to propagate geraniums. During the summer, just break off a new shoot, about three or four inches long, and place it in compost. In three weeks it will have rooted and you can pot it up to form another plant within another few weeks.
Gernium oil is a popular essential oil in aroma-therapy too and there are several reviews of this in other areas of dooyoo. Apparently it is useful for a variety of problems unique to women!
I’m not alone in liking geraniums. They are on sale in any market or garden shop, and there are also various societies and books devoted to them. Just type “geranium” into any Internet search engine and you will find masses of sites in the UK and abroad with photographs and advice on how to grow them. So, if you want some easy grown colour in your house or
garden, don’t forget about the geranium. Next time your at the shops, buy one or two and bring them home. You’ll wonder why you never bothered before.