[How to care your geraniums and ivy geraniums] Tips for keeping them flowered throughout the year

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Categories: Mary´s Advice ,

Author: Adrián Medina Alarcón

The undisputed queens of Andalusian patios and balconies.

The geranium and especially its variant the ivy geranium, are plants highly appreciated by gardening enthusiasts.

These are species that are easy to care for, with flowers ranging from white to red, pink and even salmon, and which look great in hanging baskets.

But even if they require little maintenance, to get the most out of them there are some tricks you should know.

And in this post we are telling you all the geranium and ivy geranium care, as well as some tips on how to use them

Ready? Well let's go there.


The geranium and the ivy geranium: basic care

There is a reason these flowers are so popular in warm areas like the Mediterranean.

And it is that with a minimum care, both the geranium and the ivy geranium can remain bloomed throughout the year.

Let's see those are.

1. Many hours of light

These plants are sun lovers.

In order for them to bloom in all their splendour, they should ideally receive between two and four hours of direct light each day.

But be careful during the summer.

In the warmer months, too much sun in the central hours of the day can end up taking its toll.

What you can do is expose them to light during the early hours of the morning and then, as evening approaches, put them in semi-shade.

2. Beware of frost

Both the geranium and the ivy geranium are plants of warm climates.

They withstand high temperatures well and can survive in environments above 30 °C.

The problem comes in winter.

That is when they can begin to suffer the effects of the drop in temperatures.

In general, watch out when the thermometer drops below 10ºC, because then some effects of the cold on these plants begin to be appreciated.

If night frosts are common in your area, it is preferable to keep them indoors.


3. If you want a lot of flowers, remember to water them

Irrigation is not a priority between ivy geranium and geranium care.

These plants withstand both high temperatures and drought well, and can survive several days without water.

Now, keep in mind that abundant watering during the summer (without overwatering) will make them bloom more.

Ideally, in the hottest months you shall water them about three times a week.

The rest of the year you can slow down to one watering every 4 or 5 days approximately.

4. Compost, rich in phosphorus

As with many flowering plants, geraniums and ivy geraniums benefit from a fertilizer rich in phosphorous.

What we recommend you to avoid making mistakes with the proportions is that you look for a specific fertilizer for geraniums.

Apply between March and September to stimulate flowering.

geranios en ventana

5. Pests and diseases to be aware of

We will now see the possible natural enemies that can shorten the life span of your geraniums and gypsies.

Let’s start with pests.

A. The Geranium Butterfly, its worst enemy

Like most plants, both geraniums and ivy geraniums can be affected by the usual pests of warm months (from aphids and mealy bugs to spider mites, caterpillars and whiteflies).

But if there is one that you should be especially concerned about, it is the geranium butterfly (Cacyreus marshalli).

Or to be more exact, its larvae.

The reason is that this butterfly lays its eggs inside the plant. At birth, the larvae feed on it and eat it from the inside.

To prevent it, it is best to use a systemic insecticide, a special type of phytosanitary that remains inside the plant and serves both for the prevention of pests and for their elimination.

B. Be very careful with fungi

There are some diseases caused by viruses and bacteria that can affect your geraniums and ivy geraniums (and that can be serious if you don't treat them).

But in most cases, the origin of the problem is usually a fungus.

These are eight of the most common diseases among these plants:

  • Rust: caused by the Puccinia fungus. Its symptoms are the appearance of characteristic red and yellow spots on the underside of the leaves.

  • Botrytis: a disease that comes from the fungus of the same name. In this case, the infection usually comes from wounds (such as pruning, for example).

  • Powdery mildew: the powdery mildew fungus is a common enemy of many of the plants in our garden. You will know that your geranium suffers it if you find a white powder on the leaves and the branches begin to wither.

  • Alternariosis: the tiny brown spots caused by this disease are the first sign that your plant has been infected by the Alterrnaria fungus.

  • Anthracnose: anthracnose, produced by Gloeosporium pelargonii, is seen in the appearance of brown spots that spread over the leaves.

  • Foot disease: a disease produced by the Pythium sp. fungus, which attacks the base of the plant and destroys it. The fungus reproduces in humid conditions, so it is important to avoid waterlogging of the substrate.

  • Leaf mosaic virus: This specific plant virus produces very characteristic yellow spots on the leaves, which eventually wilt.

Treatment against viruses and bacteria is more complex, but in the case of a fungal infection you can eliminate it at an early stage.

In the event that the infection has spread, you will probably have to discard the plant and change the substrate so that the fungus does not spread to those around it.

6. Two prunings a year

These species are not very demanding when it comes to pruning.

However, it's advisable to trim them twice, once in spring and once in autumn, to:

  • Remove faded flowers: regularly remove faded flowers to encourage continuous flowering and stimulate the growth of new shoots.

  • Trim dead or damaged stems: inspect your pelargonium petalum for dead, diseased, or damaged stems and cut them back to the base using clean, sharp pruning shears. This will promote healthier growth and prevent disease spread.

  • Control size and shape: if your pelargonium petalum is growing disorderly or too tall, you can prune it to maintain its desired shape and size. Trim long stems to encourage more compact and dense growth.

After each pruning, you can add a layer of substrate.

Also, it's important to remove dead flowers, as this will stimulate new blooms.

As a last resort, you can perform rejuvenation pruning, which involves drastically trimming the plant to stimulate new growth from the base. This is a drastic measure that you should only apply as a last resort if you notice that your pelargonium petalum is not developing well.

Make sure to do this in spring to give the plant time to recover and bloom again.

Maceta de gitanillas

7. The substrate, universal

Another aspect in which neither the ivy geranium girl nor the geranium are too delicate.

Both will be satisfied with a universal substrate, both when sowing them and when transplanting them, as long as you follow the fertilizer indications that we told you before.

Of course, remember that the mixture has a good drainage (as we explained in this post), because they are sensitive to waterlogging.

Where to plant your gypsies and geraniums

These plants are very versatile.

They are often planted in pots, forming colourful clusters on terraces and balconies, or in hanging baskets.

But given their short stature, it is also common to see them as borders around the trees.

Another option, if you want them to stand out in the garden, is to form dense flower beds with them, mixing flowers of different colours to achieve a more spectacular result.

This last option is valid if you live in a warm area, but if they are going to suffer from frosts in winter, it is better to keep them in a pot to protect them.

What if I need to transplant them?

Transplanting is an important task to maintain the health and vigor of your pelargonium petalum.

Here are some guidelines to follow for successful transplanting:

  • Choose the right time: ideally, perform this transplant in early spring, before their active growth period begins. Avoid transplanting during the hottest months of summer or during flowering, as this can cause a lot of stress to the plant.

  • Choose a good container: choose a pot or container that is large enough to accommodate the root system of the pelargonium petalum and has good drainage. Make sure the container has holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain.

  • Prepare the substrate: use a good quality substrate that provides adequate drainage and retains moisture. You can mix potting soil with perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage.

  • Transplant carefully: when removing the pelargonium petalum from its previous container, be very careful not to damage the roots. Place the plant in the center of the new pot and fill with fresh substrate around the roots.

  • Watering and post-care: after transplanting, water the pelargonium petalum well to settle the substrate around the roots. Place the plant in a location with indirect light and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight for a few days to allow it to recover from transplant shock.

In the following days, check the plant to make sure it has adapted well to its new pot. 

You already know how to take care of your geraniums and ivy geraniums

As you have seen, these are very grateful plants that require little maintenance.

With a little tact you will get them to keep their beautiful flowers from spring until well into autumn.

If you have doubts, you already know that you can contact us for advice.

And if what you are looking for are geraniums, then you can visit our website and see all the varieties that we have at your disposal.