HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR OUR PLANTS
If the roses are thequeens of flowers geraniums definitely are the ladies of the balconies that we do not know how, we do not know why but with a few drops of water and a few centimeters of earth they transmit such a great manifestation of life that it leaves no words.
The geranium commonly known belongs to family of Geraniaceae, and includes about 11 genera with over 400 species. We recall the three most cultivated genera:
the genre Geranium, typical of wet and cold areas with leaves that turn red in autumn (remember the Geranium robertianum) and has a regular shaped flower with 10 stamens;
the genre Erodium with the fruit that resembles the beak of a heron;
the genre Pelargonium erroneously known by the name of geranium (and commonly called so) it derives from geranos which means "crane" referring to the shape of the fruit that resembles a crane, native to the desert areas of South Africa with the particularity of having the flower with septestami and zygomorphic type, that is to say with an irregularly shaped corolla because the posterior sepal develops to form a long spur welded to the flower peduncle.
In this article we will refer to the genre Pelargoniumwhich is what we find in our homes.
Among the numerous existing species, we mention those that are most interesting as an ornamental species.
There are numerous species ofPelargonium among which we remember
ZONAL PELARGONIUM (PELARGONIUM X HORTORUM)
The Zonal pelargonium it includes numerous hybrids that produce flowers almost all year round. They are bushy plants with a semi-woody stem in the basal part. The leaves are rounded, wrinkled and green and have a sort of horseshoe or heart shaped area in the central part, in contrasting color with the rest of the leaves. The flowers can be variously colored with shades ranging from white to red, with all shades of pink and are carried on top of long stems and gathered in an umbrella.
GROUP OF ODOROUS GERANIUMS
The odorous geraniums are different species ofelargonium that have the characteristic of having leaves that emit particular scents used for the extraction of terpenes widely used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. They are plants suitable for mild climates and have no particular cultural needs.
Among them we mention:
PELARGONIUM GRAVEOLENS,gives off a characteristic rose scent;
PELARGONIUM RADULA, (PINK GERANIUM)from which hollyhock essential oil is obtained which is used to sophisticate the essences of roses
PELARGONIUM ODORATISSIMUM, also called "Mallow of Egypt" which gives off a characteristic apple scent;
PELARGONIUM RADENSgives off a characteristic lemon odor.
PELARGONIUM GRANDIFLORUM (PELARGONIUM IMPERIALE OR PELARGONIUM MACRANTHUM)
These geraniums have had a very troubled life as they were once in great demand on the market, then abandoned. Today they are again in great demand on the market for their characteristic of vegetating well at low temperatures.
They are not re-flowering plants and have flowers that reach 5 cm in diameter with leathery and fringed leaves.
PELARGONIUM PELTATUM or PELARGONIUM LATERIPEScommonly known as GERANIUM IVY
The Pelargonium peltatum has the characteristic is to have a herbaceous stem with very long and thin internodes and a posture reminiscent of ivy (hence the name) .There are varieties of ivy geranium with leaves with numerous white-yellowish streaks and this group is part the "ivy mini" such as the "Ville de Paris" also known as Parisian geraniums.
Pelargonium peltatum Ville de Paris
The Pelargonium rivulare is another splendid geranium with alternate leaves, palmate with 5-7 lobes and sessile caulinary ones.
The inflorescences are carried by flower stems that extend beyond the leaves. It is also called "Bohemian geranium".
Geraniums grow well in ambient temperatures up to 25 ° C. They grow very well in full sun and require well-ventilated environments but do not like drafts. Conversely, too low temperatures, below 15 ° C are not welcome.
It is good practice to hoe the earth that our geraniums host periodically in order to break the crust that forms on the surface that prevents both the absorption of water and the breathing of the underlying soil.
It is also important to remove dry or discolored leaves by cutting them with a scissor about 1 cm from the attachment to the stem, this to avoid leaving open wounds in the stem which could be a privileged path for parasitic attacks.
Watering of geraniums must be done often. During spring and summer, water to completely moisten the soil and allow the surface to dry before carrying out the next irrigation.
During the autumn and winter periods, it is watered from time to time, just to prevent the soil from drying out completely.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
The geranium is repotted every year in spring with a soil consisting of peat and clayey earth. It is also important to correct everything with a little calcium carbonate to raise the pH of the soil.
It is important not to use too large pots, as the root system of the geranium would develop too much at the expense of the aerial part.
When repotting it is good to shake the roots a little to remove the old soil and cut the roots that are too long and thick with clean and disinfected scissors.
Geranium, being a very active plant, needs to be fertilized often.
From April to September it is fertilized every two weeks with liquid fertilizers that are administered with irrigation water. During this period it is good to give the plant a fertilizer that has a higher potassium title to favor flowering. Therefore, make sure that in addition to having the so-called macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and between these potassium is in greater quantity that it also has microelements, that is to say those compounds that the plant needs in minimal quantity (but still needs it) such as magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo) , all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.
During the other periods of the year it is sufficient once a month, by administering a fertilizer with a formula 1: 1: 1, that is to say equal quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as of course microelements.
A piece of advice: slightly reduce the doses compared to those reported in the package; if you put in a good soil and repot every year, you will give your plant a good basic supply of nutrients.
Since the geranium is a species that blooms practically all year round, it is good, as the flowers wither, to cut it to the height of the first pair of leaves, so that the plant does not waste precious energy for the formation of seeds.
During the formation of the flower buds it is useful not to keep the plant in full sun because in this way the flowers are colored better.
Geranium is usually not pruned. The leaves that gradually dry up must simply be eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.
In young geranium plants, however, it is good to trim the vegetative apexes of the plant in order to stimulate the branching and development of the lateral branches.
Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.
Geranium multiplies by cuttings.
MULTIPLICATION FOR TALEA
At the end of the summer, geranium cuttings are taken from the stoutest shoots about 10 cm long, cutting them immediately under the knot with a sharp knife to avoid fraying of the fabrics, cleaned and disinfected if possible with the flame.
The flowers, buds and lower leaves are removed from the cuttings and the base of the cutting is treated with hormones that promote rooting and a broad spectrum fungicide powder (found at a good nurseryman).
The cutting is buried in a compost formed by a part of peat and a part of fine sand up to the height of the first leaves and the pot is placed in semi-darkness and where it is possible to have a constant temperature of about 16-18 ° C.
The jar is closed either with a glass bell or with transparent plastic to ensure heat and humidity. Use sticks that you will place in the soil to keep the plastic away from the cutting. Every day open the casing and check the degree of humidity of the soil and make it always humid and eliminate any condensation that has thickened in the plastic or glass.
When the new roots begin to appear at that point (after about 30-45 days), transplant it into compost as indicated for adult plants and treat it as such.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
Pelargoniums are plants that often suffer from pest attacks. In particular:
Faded leaves and yellowed stems
This symptom almost always depends on poor lighting.
Remedies: move the plant to a brighter place.
Barrel turning black
This symptom is often accompanied by root rot. This is due to excessive watering combined with too low temperatures.
Remedies: it is very difficult to be able to recover the plant when it reaches this stage.
Brown spots on the underside of the leaves
Brown spots on the underside of the leaves could mean that you are in the presence of cochineal: brown cochineal and mealy (cottony) cochineal. To be sure, it is recommended to use a magnifying glass and observe them. Compare them with the photo shown: they are characteristics, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.
Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large and potted, you can wash it with water and neutral soap rubbing very gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant must be rinsed very well to eliminate all soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, you can use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.
Leaves that begin to turn yellow, appear mottled with yellow and brown
If the leaves begin to turn yellow and after these manifestations crumple, they take on an almost powdery appearance and fall off. Observing carefully you can also notice some thin cobwebs especially on the underside of the leaves. With this symptomatology we are very likely in the presence of an attack of red spider, a very annoying and harmful mite.
Remedies: increase the frequency of nebulizations to the foliage (the lack of humidity favors their proliferation) and possibly, only in the case of particularly serious infestations, use a specific insecticide. If the plant is not particularly large, you can also try cleaning the leaves to mechanically eliminate the parasite using a wet and soapy cotton ball. After that the plant must be rinsed very well to remove all the soap.
Presence of small whitish animals on the plant
If you notice small white-yellowish-greenish mobile insects you are almost certainly in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice.Observe them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photo on the side, they are unmistakable, you can't go wrong.
Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman.
The geranium was introduced in Italy by a Venetian nobleman who, having seen it, was fascinated by its colors by importing the species Sad pelargonium which has the particularity of scenting only at night.
Other species such as the Zonal pelargonium, the Pelargonium peltatum, thePelargonium pollinas, were introduced by the Dutch who, on their return from the Indies, stopped with their ships at the Cape of Good Hope to get supplies.
LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS AND PLANTS
See "Geranium - The language of flowers and plants"