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Tips and tricks for growing geraniums

By Rosanne Loparco
Posted 7/4/21

Geraniums are one of the most popular plants grown in the United States. They are easy to grow and can be used in so many ways: planted in the ground, in containers, flower boxes and hanging baskets. …

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Tips and tricks for growing geraniums


Geraniums are one of the most popular plants grown in the United States. They are easy to grow and can be used in so many ways: planted in the ground, in containers, flower boxes and hanging baskets. Some species even make good indoor plants.

Types of geraniums

Common garden geraniums are also called “zonal” geraniums. These are the most familiar and are sold as bedding plants. They are compact and sometimes have fancy leaves marked with bands (or zones) of a darker shade.

Lady, regal, and/or Martha Washington geraniums are frequently sold in florist shops and are a popular indoor variety since they tend to not do well outdoors.

Ivy-leaved geraniums are trailing versus upright plants and do well in window boxes and hanging baskets. The flowers are smaller, but the plants produce many flower buds.

Finally, there are species or scented-leaf geraniums. These plants are grown for fragrant foliage and exotic leaf shapes versus flowers. Flowers are very small and not very noticeable.

Lemon, apple, rose, and orange are a few of the scents available; the citronella scented variety is popular as a mosquito repellent plant.

Growing conditions

Geraniums need at least six hours of full sun each day for best growth and flowering. In the hottest part of the summer, the plants will benefit from some afternoon shade.

Geraniums also need good soil drainage and good soil aeration. Clay soil has poor soil aeration; so, amend the soil if you plant geraniums in the ground.

Never allow plants to wilt; if the plants wilt, the lower leaves will turn yellow and fall. A good rule of thumb is to water when the soil feels dry to a depth of two inches.

Fertilize every two to three weeks and remove old flowers to encourage more flowers and to keep plants looking fresh.


Geraniums do not have many issues. However, they can fall prey to a disease called Botrytis, a fungus that occurs when days are warm, but nights are cool enough to create dew.

Diseases blossoms will turn brown and mushy. This disease spreads quickly; either remove affected blooms and/or destroy the plants. Look out for geranium budworm, a tiny caterpillar that destroys flower buds from within. The best treatment is to handpick the worms.


You can save your favorite geraniums, overwinter them, and enjoy them again next year. Cuttings from the plants can be taken in early fall. Use a rooting hormone powder and place cuttings in a light potting mix.

Once cuttings are rooted, you can plant them in containers and bring the plants indoors to a sunny window.

The easiest method to save your favorite geraniums is to just dig them up and transplant into containers (if they are in the ground) or bring your existing containers indoors for the winter.

Cut the top of the plant back to a height not more than 6 inches and place in a sunny window and grow as a houseplant.

Once all danger of frost has past in the spring, bring your plants back outside to enjoy them another year.


As we approach August, your geraniums may not look as good as when you planted them, especially after extended periods of hot weather.

Plants with an unhealthy appearance can be pruned back, removing a half to three quarters of the stem length. Make cuts just above a node or joint on the stem and fertilize.

Place the plants in light to moderate shade for a few days to encourage additional growth and then move them back in full sun.

Geraniums are a staple in any garden setting! Keep your plants looking great all summer and consider saving them for next year. Visit our website at for more gardening information and tips.

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