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Pelargoniums Planted in Pelargonia

Pelargoniums Planted in Pelargonia

I have flirted with geraniums for several decades but never achieved the full satisfaction of a great display. Now I have a new plan to dedicate an area in the garden, dare I call it a zone? to some of these colourful plants. To give me an incentive to dedicate time and effort I have given it a name Pelargonia as I thought Geraniumistan was going to confuse the issue with cranesbill geranium or hardy geraniums.

As you can see from the search link I have blogged on 67 occasions about pelargoniums and geraniums over the Gardeners Tips years.

Frost Tender Pelargoniums

  1. After several good years I got careless one weekend and lost some good growth and suffered several set backs after an air frost. A similar event took place 6 years ago and that was at the beginning of June.
  2. Remember if your pelargonium stems get frosted then the plant will die and not recover!
  3. In the North of England there can be frosts late in May and early June. In Scotland and on high ground keep your thermometer handy whenever frost is threatened.


                            My flikr selection -hover & press the arrow

Zonal geraniums are more accurately called ‘Pelargoniums’. The zonal is named for the distinct bands of colour around the leaf. On the example below 3 distinct shades are obvious even in a black and white image. These distinctive colours and patterns are quite sought after and some varieties are grown for the leaf shade alone.

Engraved Zonal Pelargonium

Pelargonium House Plants

  • If you are worried about frost, geraniums make fine house plants. They can be kept in flower throughout the year and the flowers can be picked for a small vase. If you time it right when several ‘pips’ are showing full colour they can last a couple of weeks as the other pips keep opening.
  • Regular weekly feeding of high potash feed with an occasional nitrogen booster will grow a substantial specimen.
  • Pinch out the growing tip in April and June to get bushy plants with more flowers.

Regal Pelargonium indoor pot plant

Pelargonium Stock Plants

Pelargonium Stock Plants

Mid March and I have just spent some enjoyable time and effort on my Pelargonium stock plants aka Geraniums.

 Spring Clean and Tidy

  1. Through winter I have kept the plants on windowsills in good sized 5 inch pots. I gave minimal water and no fertiliser since autumn but notice they are now beginning to revive and shoot up.
  2. I removed all brown or slightly damaged leaves and old detritus from the soil surface.
  3. I broke up the top soil where it had formed a thin crust that inhibited water penetration.
  4. Then it was time to water with a weak solution of a general fertilizer.
  5. I pruned out branches that were in awkward positions opening up space for new shoots to develop. This had the advantage of improving the shape of the plant and providing stock for cuttings (see below)

Spring Cuttings & Pinching Out

  1. This is the time of year to increase  your geranium stock by taking cuttings and my spring clean provided the opportunity.
  2. I am confident I will get more rooted cuttings than I will need but any trimmed shoots longer than one & half inches were placed around the edge of a plastic pot containing a gritty compost.
  3. For pelargoniums hormone or rooting powder is not effective and may encourage rotting.
  4. In 5 weeks or so (just as the frost is going) rooted plants will be ready to be replanted and by mid summer I hope they will be flowering strongly.
  5. Choice plants and varieties will be selected for growing on as houseplants.
  6. Pinching out the top of stems will force the geranium to grow two new stems making a bushier plant.  I did this  partially during the spring clean as even stock plants can put on a good show.

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In the Pink – My Latest Geraniums

In the Pink – My Latest Geraniums

Marketing Blurb on  a recent purchase

  • Florensis Smart GMX Light Pink .
  • Annuals · Pelargonium …
  • Plant habit: Upright;
  • Flower size: Large; Semi-Double
  • Cuttings raised varieties pack a real punch when it comes to flower size and power! All have an upright and bushy habit with strong and sturdy flower stems.


  • I bought the plant at a charity garden fete for £4.
  • It was full of bloom (but I should have checked for more buds). It had been forced for sale and was frail .
  • It has struggled since May to fulfill a destiny I aspired for it. It needs more tlc to continue excelling.
  • I have put it with my stock plants as I want cuttings and the opportunity to achieve the same result of the professional growers.
Geranium Stock Plants & Growing On

Geranium Stock Plants & Growing On

I am trying to establish some good stock or ‘mother’ plants. These should be strong healthy plants from which I can take cuttings. I feed them up and disbud to get stems rather than flowers. The first step is to select plants you want to replicate. You want to aim for quality stock of a variety you like. I am interested to see if the children from the 2 tone plant below have similar characteristics.

How to take geranium cuttings

  • Take lots of cuttings from your geraniums in April – August.  They should be ready to be replanted in a month.
  • The healthiest part of a plant is nearest the growing tip so short cuttings are best I aim for 3-5″.
  • Choose individual cuttings that are firm healthy and without flower buds.
  • For more cuttings chop your geranium mother plant back by two-thirds aiming to cut immediately above a  bud. The stem tips will then form the basis of your cuttings. Select cuttings that have plenty of shoots or nodes.
  • Strip almost all the leaves from the stem, leaving only the top pair.
  • Pinch out any tips that look like they might develop into flowering shoots.
  • Insert the geraniums cuttings  into a gritty mix of compost.

Growing On

  • Experience says you get better growth and flower density from younger stock.
  • Place cuttings somewhere bright but cool and keep their compost moist at all times.
  • If you want to keep the mother plant thin out all the spindly wimpy stems. With geraniums some growers keep the grandmothers and great-grandmothers –.
  • Pinch 1/4  inch off the top of a stem and 2 new stems will grow making a bushier plant.
  • For a quick result plant three cuttings of the same variety into a large pot to grow into one bumper-sized plant.




Pettinger’s Pelargoniums

Pettinger’s Pelargoniums

Sorry this is not a new geranium nursery or supply business although I wish it was. It is  just a follow up and continuation of my earlier promise  to keep updating my new found enthusiasm for Pelargoniums.

Zonal geraniums from overhead.

This is a garden center photo taken 17th June 2019. The plants were in 4″ pots selling for £2.49. There was nothing to tempt me with this selection on quality, originality or value for money grounds.

From the ridiculous to the sublime I went to visit a more upmarket garden location in South London.

Geranium Update and Kew

  1. A trip last week to Kew garden chimed well with my recent pelargonium theme with a good display of many species. In the grounds they avoided the brash colour schemes of the familiar bedding plant varieties and had the best mixture of species in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
  2. I was impressed with the greenhouse display of 8″ pots of several specific varieties including ivy leaved types.
  3. As an aside comment I arrived at Kew to queue in the June rain (what else). Next time I will book a ticket via the internet to gain rapid access. Due to the rain I bought a ride on the Kew train that provided a 45 minute guided tour of whole site. A worthwhile investment for the guides know-how and the ability to jump off and on during the day.
  4. Currently there is a Dale Chihuly  exhibit of luminous glass artworks set in Kew’s spectacular landscape and greenhouses.


London Mews and Georgian Terraces had some good flowering displays on substantial plants. They probably survive our winters due to shelter from the nearby buildings. As is my wont I failed to get the best ones photoed.

Geranium Time and Time Again

Geranium Time and Time Again

Yes it is well past time to look at geraniums again. Since this blog started there have been over 60 pages of tips about geraniums. The most popular have been about scented,  regal and dwarf geraniums but zonals and bedding also retain much interest. (You can find these and more links by using our search button).

Pelargonium Vancouver Centennial’ @ Kew Garden

Why then is there this new post about geraniums? Well it is a reflection of my personal taste and intentions as I relaunch my horticultural interest in the 200 or so pelargonium species that we all call geraniums. (There are a further 400+ loosely related species correctly classed as geraniums often called hardy geraniums. Are you with me so far?) I am going to call pelargoniums by the common name of geraniums to the annoyance of some in the Pelargonium and Geraniums society.

Geraniums Again From a Personal point of View

  1. This post is intended to force me to follow up my good intentions to grow more and better geraniums.
  2. My first early horticultural memory is of pot plants grown on windowsills by my mother 60 years ago. The colour and unique musty scent of the leaves lingers somewhere in my brain. I do not remember the pink variety but it seemed vaguely dutch and royal and it certainly ‘was a good dooer’.
  3. Traditionally I garden by numbers and go for volume, the more the merrier (and usually the more cramped).
  4. An aspiration here is to grow fewer, show quality plants.
  5. Again I also want some house plants to give away as I think they make nice gifts and are easyish for the novice to cultivate and enjoy.
  6. My record keeping has been spasmodic over the years so it needs more attention.
  7. So may be  the start of a series of pages noting how I get on or at least a way of keeping my nose to the ground.

Princess of Wales Conservatory Kew Garden June 2019

Geraniums Over Winter

Geraniums Over Winter

My mother very successfully grew Geraniums (pelargoniums) as indoor pot plants for many years. For the majority of gardeners the zonal geraniums are an outdoor feature of brightly coloured flowers that are often treated as annuals. Over wintering can be too much fuss and frustrating if you get it wrong. There are things you can do to optimise your success in getting a favourite plant through even a cold, soggy winter. Firstly select varieties that are worth the effort of preserving.

Pot Up Pre-winter

  • Unless already in pots replant your favourite geraniums in individual pots with a gritty compost.
  • Tidy up any nibbled leaves and poor stems cutting back a bit if necessary.
  • Keep the pots in a bright, cool spot such as a windowsill. Avoid a frosty reception from a cold window behind curtains.
  • A good plant will keep flowering for a while into winter.
  • Do not over water but keep on the dry side.

Mass Protection

  • If you wish to save a lot of plants you can try keeping them in a frost free area such as a garage or greenhouse.
  • Dig up before they are frosted and knock off as much soil as you can from the roots. Trim back by a half.
  • Either hang the plants in a cool, dark room or place them in paper bags. They will loose their leaves but the stems should reshoot in spring if planted in good compost.
  • Check every few weeks to make sure the plants are not shriveling or drying out completely. Mist or soak if they do get over dry.

Take Cuttings

  • If you have particular geraniums you wish to preserve I recommend taking cuttings.This method takes up less space but you need to start well before the first frosts.
  • Start by taking 3- to 4-inch cuttings from the green  part of the plant. Strip off any leaves on the bottom half of the cutting. Some gardeners recommend dipping the cutting into rooting hormone but I find it more important to ensure excellent drainage.
  • I would definitely use the cuttings method for Regals, Scented and special geranium plants.

Miniature Pelargonium

Miniature Pelargonium

Minature-pelargonium - Golden Chalice

Pelargonium ‘Golden Chalice’

This fancy Pelargonium was new to me. I bought the plant whilst on holiday at a specialist pelargonium nursery in Stokesley Yorkshire some years ago.

As you may be able to see the leaves are a maximum of half an inch wide. This earns it the sobriquet of a miniature bi-colour.

The blooms are pink speckled with red and there is plenty of bud. The flowering should continue virtually on checked through out winter growing it as a house plant. Since it takes up so little space, yet has a distinctive form, I may try to propagate from this stock plant and acquire other varieties to make a miniature collection.

The parent has been a profligate producer of off spring. Many plants have been given away as houseplants and some of my stock is planted in the border. Cuttings root easily and the miniature nature of the plant always attracts attention. I an going to group them together this year and see how they fare.

Pinch out growing tips to make the plant bush out and provide more flowers.

Other links and information on Pelargoniums

Top 10 Scented leaved Pelargoniums
Pelargonium Grandiflorum and other ‘Geraniums’
Stellar Pelargonium – Bird Dancer Geranium
Photogenic Pelargonium
The Secret of Geranium (Pelargonium) Cuttings
Growing Regal Geranium Pelargonium
Dwarf Pelargonium aka Geranium
Tips for Growing Geraniums (Pelargonium)
Thompson & Morgan supply Pelargonium seeds and plants in season.

Pelargonium Grandiflorum and other ‘Geraniums’

Pelargonium Grandiflorum and other ‘Geraniums’

I have tried to grow several Pelargonium varieties this year and been pleasantly surprised at the various forms and colours I have succeeded in producing.

The Grandiflorum is an upright, shrubby perennial with soft smooth stems bearing lobed leaves and large, pinkish-white flowers with dark-purple markings. The plant above I spotted in Chelsea Physic garden this summer.

Dwarf Pelargoniums

  • I have long had a plant that resembles ‘Don’s Helen Bainbridge’ that I got from Fir Trees nursery. It has tricoloured leaves and grows only 3″ above the pot.
  • After some success with this variety and liking the small habit I bought a collection of Dwarfs and they have done well in the first year. I will see how my many cuttings now perform.
  • I try feed main plants with high potash feed from spring and indoor flowering has generally been good.
  • Alice and Kerensa have been amongst my favourites with pale flowers tinged with pink.
  • The 3″ pots, I have used, dry out quite quickly and better watering would have produced better plants.

Miniature Pelargoniums

  • I didn’t realise that miniature geraniums were so varied and interesting . Without a formal description I have taken miniature to mean 4″- 7″ high with smaller than normal geranium leaves.

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Fancy Pelargoniums Called Geraniums

Fancy Pelargoniums Called Geraniums

Pelargonium regal

I have a strong liking for Pelargoniums (which I will call Geraniums from now on). They are still producing lots of colour and variety late into October. Because we suffer strong winds and early frosts up on the Pennines of Yorkshire I am in the process of protecting the varieties I am keen to keep through winter.

How to Keep Geraniums Over Winter

  • Geraniums originate from South Africa and are tender in our UK climate.
  • Geraniums do not like damp humid conditions coupled with low light levels in winter.
  • Select the best varieties of Geranium plants that you wish to preserve over winter. Zonal Geraniums are going to be cheap and plentiful next year so if space is limited they may be the ones to sacrifice.
  • I am taking late cuttings of my chosen Regal and scented Geraniums in case the stock plant fails. I also took some earlier cuttings in August. Do not use hormone rooting powder as this tends to attract black rot.
  • Keep the cuttings in a light frost free spot. For small cuttings I put 3 or 5 to a pot of well drained compost.
  • The host plants need to be tidied up with any brown or nibbled leaves removed. I have pruned long stems to restrict the plants and provide cutting material.
  • Keep the plants frost free and on the dry side over winter. If they are kept in a centrally heated house they will need some water and may repay with a supply of flowers.
  • Strong light is not essential but they will prefer some natural light.
  • In spring a weak feed and more light will revive the slumbering plants. New growth can provide stock for many more cuttings.


Some Types of Geranium

Regal Geraniums once called Pelargonium domesticum, P. Cucullatum or P. grandiflorum are showy flowering plants at their best between April and June. Named varieties to look out for include Black Knight, Bridesmaid, Caribrooke, Marylyn (above)Wooton and Lord Bute.The velvety textured petals can combine to make large flowerheads and look stunning in a pot or container. The growing habit is looser than Zonal geraniums.

Ivy-leaved geraniums are trailing plants best known in hanging baskets and from the balconies of Swiss Chalets. The colour range is not as wide as that for Regals but the volume of flower over a long summer make them desirable plants.

Fancy Leaved Geraniums are sometimes called ‘show-off’ Geraniums and as you would expect have a variety of leaf colour that make them attractive in the house or as an edging plant. There are also many scented leaf geraniums with a variety of like citrus scents.

Pelargonium Endlicherianum or the Turkish Pelargonium is more hardy than other Geraniums. They produce large bright pink flowers in early summer. They have succulent roots and need very well drained, rocky soil in a protected spot in full sun. The round, greyish-green leaves and pretty flowers make them an excellent plant for the rock garden.

Dwarf and Miniature Geraniums are fascinating plants that have all the features of normal geraniums but on a smaller scale. The plant below is now flowering with pink petals on the typically geranium like inflorescence.

Miniature Geranium

Other links and information on Pelargoniums

Top 10 Scented leaved Pelargoniums
Pelargonium Grandiflorum and other ‘Geraniums’
Stellar Pelargonium – Bird Dancer Geranium
Photogenic Pelargonium
The Secret of Geranium (Pelargonium) Cuttings
Growing Regal Geranium Pelargonium
Miniature Pelargonium
Dwarf Pelargonium aka Geranium
Tips for Growing Geraniums (Pelargonium)