Pelargoniums (Pelargonium spp.) are recognisable by the same 5 petal flowers and long beak-like seedheads. They are versatile plants that are able to grow in containers, hanging baskets or flower beds. All you have to do is to ensure that they are watered regularly and have exposure to full sun.
Common Problems with Pelargoniums
- Pelargonium rust – Pelargoniums may develop a fungal disease, which appears as brown spots on the underside of leaves due to poorly ventilated spaces or being overly wet. Grow pelargoniums in a well-ventilated area and avoid wetting them too much. If rust forms, remove the affected leaves as much as possible, and spray the remaining leaves with fungal spray.
- Yellowing of bottom leaves – This may happen if the plants are too close together. The bottom leaves do not have sufficient exposure to sunlight.
Common Mistakes with Pelargoniums
- Over watering – You may be drowing your pelargonium plant. Too much water will exclude the oxygen from the roots, causing them to die.
- Under watering – If pelargonium plants don’t have sufficient water, they may become hard and woody, Since the plant is never dormant, it requires moisture all the year round.
Watering: Allow the soil to dry between watering. Usually when the leaves show signs of drooping, it’s time to provide pelargoniums with small amounts of water. They are not thirsty plants but do need water to thrive.
Light: Pelargoniums grow well in full sun. If growing under glass, be sure to protect them from direct sunlight in the heat of summer.
Temperature: A temperature range of between 40 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 5 to 25 degrees celsius is recommended for pelargonium plants.
Soil: Perlagonium plants are happy in garden soil of all types, but prefer neutral or alkaline soil.
Fertiliser: Pelargoniums are quite happy without regular feeding. However, to get the best out of them, use a balanced liquid fertiliser in Spring, then switch to a fertiliser with high potassium content when flowering begins.
Pruning: Regular pruning to remove older leaves and woody stems will help to keep the pelargoniums looking fresh and green instead of growing scraggly.
Propagation: Pelargonium plants are propagated by cuttings. Just take a short cutting with stem and leaves, dip it into rooting hormone and grow it in moist soil.
Fun Fact about Pelargoniums
It is common to confuse Pelargoniums with geraniums. Both have five-petalled flowers. However, the lower three petals of Pelargoniums are different from the two at the top, ie. Pelargoniums are symmetrical in one plane only, ie. left to right, like a human face. On the other hand, Geranium flowers comprise five similar petals and therefore have radial symmetry, in multiple planes, like a daisy flower.