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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Real Geranium

 It can be quite confusing learning about plants. The same plant can have multiple common names plus a botanical name which can change as plants are reclassified.
Case in point is the Geranium. Most often when folks hear the name Geranium they think of Grandma's old raggedy plants with bright colored flowers on a leggy plant. Actually those plants are Pelargoniums also called Martha Washington pelargoniums.
The real, honest to god Geraniums are low growing border perennials with lovely pastel flowers, finely divided leaves and delicate texture.

 Known as Hardy Geraniums these tough perennials are great as low care, moderate water edging plants.  They bloom heavily in the spring and early summer.  Trim back flowers and some of the foliage after the bloom cycle to encourage new growth and flowers. In late winter prune back close to the base of the plant to allow spring growth. Fertilize twice per year with slow release fertilizer or organic fertilizer in February and July.
Divide every 3-5 years as the plants get thin, don't bloom as much and get dead sections.
Pretty hybrid of Geranium incanum. Check local nurseries for hybrids in spring.
There are some good mail order sources for Geraniums as well as specialty nurseries.
Check the web for options. 

Hardy geraniums have the common name- Cranesbill. The seed pods have the look of a birds beak.
The native species of geranium can be weedy.
Hybrids, large flowered forms are hardy to heat and cold. They can tolerate sun and light shade.
Good drainage is a plus but not a must.

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