Growing Great Geraniums in South East Queensland
Here are some tips on how to keep your Geraniums /pelargonium plants looking fresh and in flower
Most geraniums love sunlight, read the plants label and choose a spot that will get 1/2 a day of sun, Geraniums will grow in a wide variety of garden soils, but dislike heavy soils and having wet feet. To lighten a heavy soil add some organic matter and sand, ash or coarse potting mix. To ensure your Geraniums are well drained, make good use of slopes, add sand to increase drainage of soil, or mound your garden beds. For planting in pots and hanging baskets use a quality potting mix. (with the Australian Standards logo)
Geraniums benefit from a good pruning once per year to stop them going leggy, Autumn is a good time to do this after the hottest weather has passed, cut 1/3 to 1/2 off the plant and make your cuts just above a leaf joint, shaping the plant as you go.
Rust - Rust is a fungal disease that appears as small brown spots on the underside of the leaves, it can be spread by wind and when watering plants. To control, pick infected leaves from the plant and destroy, then use a fungicide suitable for rust and spray the underside of the leaves to help stop it spreading. ( A systemic type of fungicide will give you the most results)
Black Stem Rot- is a bacterial disease which is transmitted in water and soil, it causes the base of the stem to to blacken and wither and the plant stem slowly dies, often made worse by over wet soils.
To treat, check soil moisture and water only as required and remove black stems off the affected plant, clean hand and secateurs with methalayted spirits or any another germ killing solution, before touching another geranium plant.
Budworm - Budworms are the larvae from moths. Catapillars feed on the buds and petals of geranium flowers and spoil the blooms, the cycle lasts for 2 -3 weeks before they pupate in the soil, control whilst in the caterpillar stage by picking and squashing or use insecticidal control. ( a systemic style insecticide will give the best control)
If you provide correct growing conditions your plants will reward you with good health and a showy flower display, if disease stikes follow the hygiene tips below
-Ensure you bin or burn your prunings if they have any diseases
-If your plants have rust, wash hands between touching different geranium plants
-Dip secateurs in methelayted spirits to sterilise between pruning of diseased plants
-Do not compost diseased material
Getting the most flowers
To keep your plants flowering for most of the year, fertilise with controlled release granules as directed or a complete liquid fertiliser every month, (an organic type fertiliser is better for your soil, plant and the environment.) Remove dead flower heads and ensure that you prune your plants.... pruning gives bushy plants,.....bushy plants give more flowers. If you are not getting many flowers check your plant is getting enough sun, fertiliser and doesn't have budworm , then water with some liquid potash.
Black Stem Rot
These growing notes are for SE Qld. If you live in a different climate and need some growing assistance, please email details of your miniumum and maximum temperatures and soil type and I can help you with tips for great geraniums in your garden.