Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gorgeous Geraniums

When we moved into our new home, it was a little late in the gardening season, so I knew it would be difficult to find plants for outdoors. Most of them would be sold, and most of what was left wouldn’t be worth purchasing. But I was okay with that – in the beginning - since all the planting areas around the home had been neglected for years, and every single one was in desperate need of major overhaul before any plants could be accommodated.

In addition, there would be a lot of things to be done because of the move, like opening boxes, settling furniture, organizing closets, and so on. Well, things moved faster than I expected and when there were no boxes to open or furniture to settle or closets to organize, I began feeling a little restless - a need-to-so-some-gardening type of restless. So off to the garden centers I went.

I wasn’t wrong about there being a shortage of plants to choose from, but I was wrong about there being nothing worth purchasing. Because I discovered that there were a lot of beautiful flowering plants in containers like this one:


Geraniums are one of the most popular plants, perfect for any spot in your garden that calls for a splash of vibrant colour. They can be grown in containers, hanging baskets, window boxes and in beds. They are perennials, but because they can’t grow outside year round in regions with severe winter weather (like where I am), people treat them as annuals and discard them when the gardening season comes to an end. This is not necessary, as some of you may already know, because geraniums can be brought indoors for the winter.

There are several ways to do this, but I will recommend only one, which I find the easiest. When the temperature dictates that it’s almost time for your plants to be moved inside, prune them back to ½ or 1/3 their height. If they are planted in the ground, dig them up and pot them up in containers. Do not move them immediately indoors; you must acclimatize them first. The process of moving them indoors should be done slowly so the plants can adapt to your home’s environment. If you rush to bring them inside, without allowing for acclimatization, they will react negatively, dropping flower buds and losing more foliage than you’d like. To start, you should place them indoors at night and take them back outdoors during the day. Gradually begin bringing them indoors during the day, a few hours at a time, extending that period until they spend entire days and nights inside your house. This process usually takes about two weeks.

Once they are inside for good, make sure that you place your geraniums in a spot where they will receive as much light as possible; direct sun is essential. Artificial lighting may be necessary if your home does not have a sunny location available. Water thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry considerably before watering again. In the winter, reduce watering. Average household temperatures are fine during the day, but cool nights are preferred.

If you have the ideal spot in your home to over-winter your geraniums, consider moving them indoors when the temperature takes a dive. You’ll be able to enjoy these beautiful plants – straight from your garden - during the gloomiest months of the year. That’s cool.

2 comments:

  1. Hmmmm I've never heard of this reverse hardening-off. (No surprise there). So would you have to harden them off again in the spring?

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  2. Yup, you sure would. At least for placing in direct sun. The difference between indoor and outdoor lighting levels is drastic, and if the plant is tossed into the outdoor sun without hardening-off, it could get sizzled.

    The reverse is important because indoor levels of lighting and humidity are so low compared to the outdoors that the plant will shed flowers, leaves and whatever else it can to show you how miserable it is.

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