Caring for Geraniums to Produce Beautiful Blooms

light pink geraniums in a planter

Geraniums are popular flowering plants known for their colorful blooms and easy care. We will share how to care for generiums so you will have beautiful blooms!

Background: How I learned to care for geraniums

A few summers ago, I became obsessed with geraniums. They come in many different colors but I fell in love with the beautiful light pink (sort of a cotton candy color). And it became my summer hobby (one of many) to not only keep them alive but to help them thrive. So let me share what I have learned to help you have beautiful geraniums.

Many Types of Geraniums

There are six types of geraniums: zonal, ivy, interspecific, regal or Martha Washington, scented-leaf, and angel geraniums. The first four are the most common with scented-leaf and angel being the least common. I will be sharing about zonal geraniums which are the most common geraniums found in summer gardens and in large pots or containers. However, caring for all types of geraniums is typically the same.

Some geraniums are considered perennials; however, zonal geraniums like most of the geraniums people typically buy and plant in gardens and pots are annuals. In other words, because they are annuals, you will need to replant each year. (Perennials will come back each year.)

Zonal Geraniums

Although varying from plant to plant, they are named because of their darker leaf color. Their leaves are variegated (sort of a ruffle edge) and almost a kidney shape.

geranium leaves

Geranium stems are succulent. Their aroma is strong and distinctive, which I like a lot. The flowers grow in a clump or cluster (sort of a sphere shape) as pictured below.

Blooms come in various shades of pink, rose, red, orange, purple, white, and yellow. My favorite is light pink or shocking (darker) pink. A regular (not dwarf or miniature) zonal geranium will typically grow approximately 23-25 inches in diameter and about the same for their height.

When to Plant Geraniums

Plant in spring after any threat of frost has passed. We live in Alabama so we plant our geraniums in early April. One year, we did have to bring in our geraniums one night when there was a chance of frost.

Soil

Good soil is essential for caring for your geraniums. Geraniums thrive in well-draining soil. Use a good quality potting mix if planting in containers, or amend garden soil with organic matter to improve drainage. Good drainage is essential. We know this the hard way.

Check out our blog post about composting for beginners.

Light

Geraniums prefer full sun to partial shade. They will bloom best when they receive at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. In hotter climates (like Alabama), they benefit from a little afternoon shade to protect them from intense heat.

Watering

This is another essential step in caring for your geraniums. Geraniums like to be kept evenly moist but not waterlogged. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings, and then water thoroughly. Avoid overhead watering. In other words, try not to get water on the leaves, as this can lead to fungal diseases. If you overwater or your pot does not properly drain, this can cause the roots to rot and there is no return after that. We learned this the hard way one summer.

Fertilizing

Feed geraniums with a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring through fall). Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers, as these can encourage foliage growth at the expense of blooms.

Deadheading and Pruning

This is an essential step for ensuring beautiful and healthy geraniums.

Deadheading Blossoms

Deadheading is essential for caring for your geraniums. It is removing spent blooms regularly to encourage continuous blooming. It enables your geraniums to maintain a compact and bushy shape.

When we initially plant the geraniums in early spring, I tend to deadhead more (every few days) to increase the blooms. Taking off the blooms in the early days, allows the plant to put more energy in the plant – – helps it get bigger and ultimatly produce more blooms. Below is a picture of a bloom that needs to be deadheaded.

Once your plants are established (after a few weeks), and as blooms are fading, find the node at the bottom of the bloom stem on each bloom and sort of twist and snap it off. Deadhead the blooms about once a week or as you see fading blooms. The picture below shows a geranium stem node after it has been deadheaded.

Pruning Leaves

Also, remove yellowing or brown leaves. Once a leaf turns yellow or brown, it will not be able to come back. You want to remove it to prevent any disease from spreading to other parts of the plant. Be sure to look under the leaves and blooms, near the soil and close to the roots to be sure you see and remove yellow or brown leaves. Below shows leaves that need to be removed (and I also removed the pollen pods from the nearby hickory tree that landed on the soil).

Pest and Disease Control

Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids, spider mites, and caterpillars. Treat any infestations promptly with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Also, watch for signs of fungal diseases like powdery mildew and rust, and again, avoid overhead watering to reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

Summary

With proper care, geraniums can reward you with vibrant blooms throughout the growing season, adding color and beauty to your garden or containers.

ENJOY your beautiful Geraniums!

light pink geraniums in a planter

Let us know if you have questions or what you think about caring for geraniums by commenting below.

Check out our other blogs post about Flowers that Not Only Survive But Thrive for this “Wannabe” Master Gardener and How to Arrange Zinnias (or any fresh cut flowers) in a Vase and Other Ideas.

May your geraniums bloom BIG!

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