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House Plant Index

Pelargonium species

Flowers All winter as house plant
Potting or re-potting time May
Position in garden during summer Sun
Potting Mixture 3

The genus Geranium contains several species of interest in the garden; but the various plants, collectively called geranium, which are grown as decorative pot plants all belong in the genus Pelargonium.

These plants, colorful both in leaf and flower, vie with the begonias in popularity. Their use as window plants dates to 1700. Modern hybrids of the various types of Pelargonium have been brought to a high standard of perfection. Leaf-color, scent, longevity of bloom, ease of culture and propagation-there is little to be desired to earn a perfect mark in the window garden.

Horticultural varieties of Pelargonium hortorum are commonly called zonal geraniums on account of the colored zone, which appears on the upper leaf surface. Flower umbels are pink, red, or white. Several named varieties of this plant listed below will give you an idea of the color combinations to be found in zonal geranium leaves. Varieties given are but few in a great army.

Golden Bronze leaves, golden-yellow with brown zone.Flowers, scarlet.
Happy Thought leaves, green with yellow-white zone. Flowers, scarlet.
MmeSalleroi leaves, green with white edge. Flowers, pink and white.
Mrs. Pollock leaves, red-bronze with crimson and yel low edge. Flowers, orange-red.
Win. Languth leaves, green with white margin. Flowers, double and scarlet.

Greatly in favor at present is the Lady Washington geranium (Pelargonium domesficum). The species and its numerous varieties have the largest flowers found among house geraniums. Individual flowers are pansy-like in shape, variant in color, and the two upper petals are usually blotched in a darker shade. Bloom is prolific. Among named varieties are included:

Easter Greetings flowers, brilliant red.
Gardener's Joy flowers, pink.
Mme. Layle flowers, a startling combination ofblack, pink, purple, and white.
Schwaben Maid flowers, carmine with black blotches.

The rose geranium (P. graveolens) is a woody species growing to over 3 feet in height. The leaves are toothed and very sweet scented. Flowers in umbels, rose pink.

Another fragrant-leaved species is P. odoratissimum, the nutmeg geranium. Its scalloped leaves are covered with soft hairs, which lend a gray sheen to the foliage. Flowers are white with upper petals pencilled in pink.

There is trailing geranium which is suitable for elevated pots or hanging baskets; it is called the ivy geranium. The leaves of A peltatum are 5-pointed, ivy-shaped, and the procumbent stems 3 to 4 feet long. Flowers, white to rose.

Geraniums require a sunny window. Top growth should be sprayed daily, but the soil in the pot should be kept barely moist. Too much water causes leaves to brown and buds to blast and fall off. Cut plants back in May, both branches and main stem. Re-pot if necessary, but if the plant looks healthy just renew the top inch of potting mixture and plunge plant in the garden. You will have to decide whether the geraniums are to blossom during the summer or the winter. They will do either, but not both. For winter flowers, the buds appearing from late May through the summer must be ruthlessly pinched out as fast as they appear.

Be very sparing in the use of manure or other fertilizers, as the plant will produce a mass of stems and foliage at the expense of flowers. Geraniums have the habit of growing tall and lanky; long shoots should be constantly pruned to keep plants shapely and compact.

Propagating is by stem cuttings, which root in about 5 weeks. They will need several increasingly larger pots during the first summer in the garden.

For summer flowers on geraniums, a different schedule is used. Lift the plants from the garden in October and pot them. Cut them back, place in a cool room, and water only once a week. From November until the following May the plants should be rested in a dark cellar with just enough watering to prevent complete drying off. In May they are removed from the pot and planted in the garden bed where they begin to flower in several weeks.