Big bright geraniums add fantastic pops of colour to your garden or balcony, and they keep flowering year round in some zones. They come in a rainbow of colours, from luscious white and cream through to lipstick reds, pinks and corals. My favourite shades were hot pink and cherry red until I discovered Rozanne, an award-winning variety that explodes in a cloud of brilliant purple-blue flowers set off by dark, angular leaves.
I did a little research and found out Rozanne has a fantastic pedigree. She won RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s Plant of the Centenary in 2013 and the Perennial Plant of the Year in the US. Rozanne is more than a pretty face; she’s hardy and low-maintenance.
Rozanne is also photogenic, smart, and tech-savvy, as evidenced by her amazing website and social media presence: She can be found on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and more. She even has her own hashtag: #GeraniumRozanne. The website is well worth following for its wealth of gardening inspiration and information.
I am completely smitten with this variety. My local nursery is sold out, but I’ll keep an eye out for more.
While looking into Rozanne, I learned a thing or two about geraniums. Like…
- All those plants I’ve been calling geraniums are actually pelargoniums. I’ll stick with the wrong moniker, thank you very much. Pelargonium sounds more like a tropical skin disease than a pretty flower.
- Queen Victoria’s favourite flower was the Appleblossom Rosebud (pelargonium x hortorum). It’s a beautiful variety with a dense flowerhead of creamy white petals tinged with pink and pale green. Apparently, Her Majesty is credited with the starting the whole misnomer thing, calling the pelargonium a geranium, and no one dared correct the notoriously grumpy queen.
- They are also known as cranesbills. Yeah, no. I’ll stick with geranium. It turns out the root of geranium is geranos, Greek for crane, so there’s no escaping that one.
- Most hardy geraniums are perennial while pelargoniums are, in many zones (but not mine), annuals. It’s pretty complicated, and the name problem doesn’t help!
- Some people don’t like the pungency of geraniums. I like it. The spicy smell reminds me of summer and my grandmother’s house. She always had red geraniums in urns on her front porch.
- Geraniums come in scented varieties. The flowers aren’t as showy, but the trade-off is leaves that smell like lemon, mint, chocolate, and apple.
I struggled for a long time with geraniums. For years, my new-from-the-nursery plants soon lost their leaves and shrivelled down to ugly stumps. Although I have never had success planting them in the garden bed, I’ve learned a few secrets to keeping geraniums happy and healthy in pots.
This I know: it’s important to keep geraniums in pots moist. When they dry out, I’ve found they become prone to pests and never really recover. In those cases, I learned the hard way that it’s better to just throw the sick plant out and start over. Otherwise, they infect everything around them.
Experience has taught me to water with care, not wetting the leaves and flowers. Instead, I water the soil. This seems to help prevent rot and mildew. I pick off any brown leaves and I pinch off the dead flowers each day or two to keep it nice and bushy and encourage flowering.
I give them a dose of fertiliser twice a season to boost their resistance to pests. The most common problem I’ve had to deal with is caterpillars and other pests of the munching type. I do daily reconnaissance, pick off the nasty culprits, and give them a taste of my heel. A light spray of white oil has worked for me when the vermin have been in plague proportions.
Do you have any secrets to growing beautiful geraniums? Please share in the comments.