GERANIUMS – THE FLOWERS OF GLORY
The Geraniums are a very hardy variety of plants and are considered the as one of the best flowering plants in the world. They are technically known as Pelargonium. They have their origin in
Geraniums are one of the most popular plants. They develop beautiful colours in the sunlight and grow well in all climatic zones and countries. These flowering and ornamental plants have been grown in the gardens of many great and well known people all over the world.
From about 300 known species of pelargonium thousands of cultivars have evolved. To make it easier to identify the various types’ different groupings were devised. Some of the highlights from the groups are:
THE FANCY LEAVED
These have beautiful coloured foliage which is pleasant to look at even without the blooms.
There are more than 50 fancy leaved geraniums available today. Colour of the leaves vary from Maple shaped leaves with bands of yellow, bronze and red.
The best known variety is called the “SKIES OF ITALY”. Another variety which is very popular having silvered leaves is called “WILHELM LANGUTH”.
For most gardeners the miniature and the dwarf types are most suited. Today there are several hundred named varieties with such fairy tale names viz. :RED RIDING HOOD”, “PYGMY”, “SNOW WHITE”, “HAPPY”, “SLEEPY” and “SNEEZY”.
THE RARE ONES
These are mainly the collectors’ delight. These are black flowered geraniums which bear scented, dark maroon flowers with gold edging.
These geraniums produce spectacular azalea like blooms, but they have their drawbacks and require to be kept in a green house till the buds appear.
They need more water during their budding and blooming period. They bloom for long periods and are available from most nurseries.
THE SCENTED LEAVES
These geraniums are grown primarily for their attractive fragrant foliage. Their leaves are used for flavouring cakes, tea, butter, salads and dressing. These varieties can well be defined as Herbs.
THE IVY- LEAVED
This variety has ivy like glossy leaves and is vine type and good climbers. They are best grown in hanging pots under the awnings or roof edges.
The geraniums are excellent plants for the bedding and pot culture.
The geraniums are best grown from cuttings, though new varieties are being introduced by sowing hybrid seeds. Since geraniums are hybrids of mixed parentage, vegetative propagation is the only way to reproduce a plant similar to the parents.
THE BEST TIME
The best time for propagation through cuttings is January end to mid February. The plants will be ready to bloom by end of March and these would continue to flower for the next few months.
The geraniums need good and healthy soil. They grow best in soils which are sandy loam and have good drainage. The best combination is as under:
- 10 kg soil.
- 5 kg well composted farm yard manure (FYM).
- 1 kg super phosphate
- 100 gm murate of potash
This mixture should be prepared and kept in the pots for about a week before placing the cuttings.
-A Sharp Cutting/Budding Knife.
Select a shoot which has three nodes as well as the growing tip and cut the shoot off just above the third node. This will leave the parent plant in a safe
condition. The cut below the third node will dry over quickly and prevent entry of disease.
Trim the cutting back to just below the second joint beneath the growing tip, and remove all the leaves and stipules except the immature leaves in the growing tip. This cutting is now ready for insertion.
Make a hole about 1 cm deep, insert the cutting and firm the medium round it. Cover only the bottom joint of the cutting, do not allow the compost to touch or cover the next joint.
The geraniums are displayed in all most all the flower shows and many a time comes out as the winners.
The local varieties are found in most of the home gardens of