The well-known Annual Geranium blooms with red, purple, pink, or white blossoms and thick, pleated leaves. Authentic geraniums are frequently known as cranesbill or hardy geraniums. Before the genus Pelargonium was named in 1789, both kinds of plants were formerly classified as belonging to the Geranium genus. But many Pelargonium species continue to go by the name geranium as their common name.
What are Annual Geraniums?
Annual geraniums and zonal geraniums are two frequent names for Pelargonium species. These South African tropical perennials are often planted as annuals, but they can overwinter in extremely warm areas. Annual geraniums are popular choices for hanging baskets and container plantings, and they also make excellent bedding plants. After the risk of frost has passed, plant them in the broad sun for spring blossoms.
Here are some brief facts about the popular aesthetic plant:
- Latin name: Pelargonium spp.
- Other names: zonal geranium, regal geranium
- Native to: Southern Africa
- Invasiveness: No
- Tenderness: Herbaceous perennial
- Sun: Full sun; tolerates light shade
- Water: Average
- Soil: Rich, medium-moisture, well-drained soil
- Hardiness zone: 9 to 12
- When to plant: Early spring
- Spacing: 8 to 12 inches
- Plant height: 5-36 in.
- Bloom period: Spring, Summer, Fall
- Time to maturity: A few months
- Container friendly: Yes
- Fertilizer: Balanced
- Toxicity: Toxic to people, cats, dogs, and pets
- Drought tolerant: Yes
- Deer resistant: Yes
- Pest resistant: No
How to grow Annual Geranium
Annual geraniums are often started from seedlings in pots. Give them a location in the sun with rich, well-drained soil. The majority of annual geraniums begin to bloom in the middle of spring and continue to do so until the first frost.
Plants in regions with harsh winters should be dug up and thrown away as soon as the frost kills them. If you want, you can bring indoor container plants. You can grow them indoors in a window with strong, direct light. A frequent method for geraniums cultivated in hanging baskets is to overwinter them in a dormant state. At the end of the growing season, some people take cuttings, root them indoors, and then put them in potting soil a few weeks before it’s time to plant outdoors once more.
These plants can tolerate both full sun and moderate shade, but full sun with brief periods of shady relief in the warmest part of the day is when they bloom at their finest. For the hottest part of the day, plants that stop blooming in the summer may only require a little shade.
More profuse blooming appears stressing the plants by watering them only after the topsoil has been bone dry for a day or two. These plants are well-liked for graveyard urns that are only seldom tended to since they are relatively resistant to drought. Do not let them dry out for too long though, because they may start losing their leaves and deteriorating.
These plants like warm climates and detest the cold. They thrive between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the range that people prefer. These plants will stop growing at temperatures that are consistently below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and they frequently die in temps below freezing.
Growing Annual Geranium in containers
A highly popular plant for window boxes, hanging baskets, and patio planters are the Annual geranium. Make sure there are lots of drainage holes in the container. Annual geraniums are okay in a little to medium-sized pot because they bloom a little bit better when slightly root-bound. The plants require more frequent feeding when grown in pots as opposed to those grown as bedding plants.
When to start Annual Geranium seeds indoors
Geraniums are pretty slow-growing, so getting them started indoors before planting outdoors will help you get the most out of them. Sow seeds in pots indoors around mid-February and you’ll have geraniums flowering by spring. It takes about 15 weeks after sowing for geraniums to flower.
When to plant Annual Geranium
You can start annual geraniums from seed, cuttings, or transplants. Geraniums are traditionally propagated by taking cuttings and preserving popular kinds. If you decide to take cuttings, be sure to utilize only strong, healthy plants. Early in the spring, plant them in containers.
How to collect Annual Geranium seeds
Since most geraniums are F1 hybrids, seeds collected from the plants will not germinate. If you decide to cultivate plants from commercial seeds, keep in mind that it may take them up to 16 weeks to go from seed to flower. For instance, you would need to start seeds in January for a planting date in early May.
Wildlife attracted by Annual Geranium
Butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators love the appealing annual pelargoniums’ vivid blooms.
Whiteflies and aphids can also be a problem for Annual geraniums. You can remove pests successfully with insecticidal soap, followed by a water rinse after the soap has dried. You can identify spider mites through webs or withered leaves. Treat these as quickly as you can. Separate the impacted plants from other plants, then spray them with a 1% solution of neem oil, soaking both the plant and the soil.
Annual Geranium Varieties
Few Pelargonium species—out of the more than 200—are utilized as the typical annual geraniums for attractive gardening:
Pelargonium x hortum: The zonal geranium, which is the most popular variety, is frequently used as a garden bedding plant as well as patio pots and grave plantings. The majority of flowers come in solid shades of red, pink, purple, salmon, white, magenta, or mixed.
Pelargonium paltatum: This plant does look quite similar to zonal geraniums, but it has a trailing habit that makes it ideal for hanging baskets and window boxes. Typically, flowers come in solid shades of red, pink, lilac, or white.
Pelargonium domesticum: Larger plants with thick, wrinkled leaves are pelargonium domesticum. Plants have upright, woody stems and so can reach heights of three feet or more.
There are numerous species, varieties, and Pelargonium hybrids that make up scented geraniums. The sizes, forms, and colors of a plant’s leaves vary greatly. As implied by the name, leaves typically have scents of rose, lemon, oak, peppermint, apple, nutmeg, and other plants. Geraniums with a fragrant scent make wonderful container plants.