Geraniums are one of the most common plants in our country and worldwide. Thanks to their resistance to hot and humid climates, they adapt perfectly to the Mediterranean climate and produce lush flowers that adorn most Italian terraces from north to south. Even though the flowers are easy to maintain, they are sensitive to cold temperatures and quite delicate.
In this article, we’ll delve into cultivating geraniums and taking care of these splendid flowers. But before that, let’s discover the biological identification of the plant and the different types of geraniums that exist.
Biological Identification of Geraniums
Geraniums, scientifically known as Pelargonium, are flowers of South African origin belonging to the family Geraniaceae. They are perennial plants that grow in the form of bushes and produce very colorful inflorescences. The flower colors range from light pink to intense red and from white to lilac. These plants are widely distributed in subtropical climates, thus they withstand high heat and humidity. Geraniums have a fairly long flowering period, and the plant can survive for more than two years.
Types of Geraniums
There are several species of geraniums worldwide, each with its own distinct characteristics. For instance, there’s the Zonal Geranium, the most widespread type. This variety is recognizable by the thin fuzz that covers the tips of its leaves. On the other hand, Ivy Geranium is usually cultivated in pots and, due to its downward growth, should be placed in a higher position. There are also Imperial Geraniums, characterized by their delicacy. Furthermore, some geraniums possess remarkable healing or beneficial properties, such as the variety Pelargonium graveolens.
Beneficial Properties of Pelargonium graveolens
Pelargonium graveolens is a type of geranium with exceptional medicinal qualities. It has antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. Scholars believe it also plays an important role in combating specific tumors, such as cervical neoplasia. Since ancient times, this plant has been used to produce essential oils, medications, and cosmetics. That’s why it’s extensively studied in herbal medicine.
Caring for Geraniums
Taking care of geraniums is quite simple. There are a few precautions, but they must be performed periodically. Remove dry leaves and flowers and water the plant abundantly, especially if it’s exposed to direct sunlight. Upon purchasing the flower, immediate repotting is necessary, ensuring the plant is placed in an appropriate container. If possible, the pot should be terracotta. Moreover, it should have a hole at the bottom to let excess water drain out, preventing the onset of black rot.
Good pots can be found here. To facilitate water drainage, before using the appropriate soil (which you can find here), add some gravel or clay pellets (like this). Also, to prevent the plant from suffering in the heat, especially in its early life stages, limit its exposure to direct sunlight. Gradually expose it to direct sunlight, keeping the temperature below 15 degrees.
Geraniums should be fertilized during winter months, but it’s advised to avoid any fertilization in autumn.
Geraniums are highly resilient plants, yet they often suffer attacks from parasites and insects. The main diseases affecting geraniums are root rot and gray mold. Root rot is caused by various factors. One can be frequent watering or heavy rains (if the geraniums are outdoors). Excessive presence of certain minerals in the soil, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, can also cause it. Lastly, another cause can be the attack of snails on the plants’ leaves. Gray mold, or botrytis, is transmitted to the plant by a fungus, especially in very humid conditions. This disease can be identified by observing the flowers and leaves. If they are dry or covered in a soft, grayish substance, the infection has begun. In this case, removing infected petals, leaves, and buds will safeguard the plant’s health. The use of bicarbonate can be helpful, but it isn’t curative. Hence, specialized products should be used. Typically, antagonistic fungi like Trichoderma harzianum or Ulocladium oudemansii are used to fight this fungus.
Author: Denise Carulli