You have to admit there is a lot to love about the geranium. Their flower stalks give a most impressive show, great for landscape and designer-like containers with a beauty that almost defies logic.
Since there is an apparent love of the geranium in our area, I am assuming it is or will be in your area, too. Therefore I thought I would challenge you as gardeners to bring out your artistic nature when creating this year’s floral containers turning them into real masterpieces.
I realize the varieties at my garden centers might not be the same that you have to choose from but more than likely, we all have approximately the same color palette of geraniums. One color that always amazes me in the garden is salmon.
Salmon or even apricot is such an incredible color to work with. It’s like having an orange that is not flaming but soft and elegant. It is a rare color that has the ability to warm when it is cool or cool where it is sultry.
Patriot Salmon Chic is one such geranium that looks like it was created for the royal garden. I suppose my all-time favorite use for this geranium was a combination partnering it with a deep dark copper colored coleus. The coleus variety was Stained Glassworks Copper. The Stained Glassworks series has offered us some outstanding coleus over the years and the copper does not disappoint.
The deep copper color was a great partner with the salmon. But it was the addition of the blue Outback Fan scaevola that provided the finishing touch as a most wonderful complement in the container.
With Memorial Day just around the corner, we also have the opportunity to kick off the summer with red, white and blue, using geraniums. Try a mixed planting of red geraniums, like Patriot Deep Red and Techno White lobelia, add blue petunias and you can have a container that will be patriotic from Memorial Day through the Fourth of July.
Part of the appeal of these mixed containers is that they allow those of us with cement-like soil or beach sand, to grow beautiful geraniums with ease. There are hardly any rules to container gardening, but good drainage is of paramount importance. The container must drain freely. This means you may have to drill a hole in the bottom of the pot especially if you buy one of the Old World-like pots that look like they weigh 75 pounds instead of the few ounces they really are.
The next critical element of a successful container is the potting mix. Look at the premium brands sold by the cubic foot or yard. Even though they are larger, they are lighter and airy, and most have controlled-release fertilizer helping to get the plants off to a good start.
Geraniums are heavy feeders, and many gardeners do not apply enough fertilizer to meet the plant’s nutrient needs. Feed them with a diluted, water-soluble fertilizer like a 20-20-20 every two weeks or with a granular, controlled-released fertilizer every four to six weeks. When it is time to deadhead old flowers, don’t just clip the cluster. Pinch or break off the flower stalk at the base.
Geranium season is here and I hope you will create some dazzling containers.
Norman Winter is director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him at: @CGBGgardenguru.