April 16, 2013
One of the showiest groups of plants we can grow in our gardens are zonal geraniums. The brilliant colored flowers of these plants are sure to impress. Red zonal geraniums are a classic garden plant that does not go out of style. The flowers are clusters of tightly grouped buds. The buds don't open all at once. The top buds open first, followed by those underneath. Here you can see the color starting to show. While there are other colors available besides red, the other colors I really like are pink or salmon. Zonal geraniums get their name from the coloration of the foliage. The bright green leaves are roundish, and have a dark band that circles the center of the leaf. The leaf color provides a fantastic background to contrast with the flowers. The leaf edges are wavy and have a soft texture and release a spicy fragrance when touched. Zonal geraniums are known botanically as Pelergonium x hortorum and are native to South Africa. In Mississippi the best flowering and growth would be in morning sun, with a little protection in the afternoon. When the flowers are finished they need to be removed. Don't just clip the flower head. Go ahead and pinch or prune the flower stalk at the base. Geraniums are heavy feeders and need consistent fertilization. Apply controlled release fertilizer monthly to keep the plant flowering. Visit your local garden center this spring for the best selection of zonal geraniums. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.