Magnificent geraniums made easy Care How to keep the queen of balcony plants comfortable For years now geraniums have been at the top of the charts of the most popular bedding and balcony plants. The reason for this is clear: Balconies and terraces can be easily transformed into colourful feel-good oases with these beautiful sun worshippers. The geranium not only scores with its huge range of colours and growth patterns, abundance of blossoms and long flowering period, it is also undemanding, hardy and easy-care. This makes it an ideal companion for people who are not at home a lot or who have little time for caring for their plants. But a few simple care tips should be kept in mind to make sure geraniums look their best all summer long. A place in the sun Geraniums are sun worshippers. A true native of South Africa, it has no problems with a full-sun location and extreme heat. But the plant does well even in a half-shade location without losing much of its blooming power. After buying geraniums they should not be deprived of sunlight for any length of time, but rather moved to a suitable spot on a balcony or terrace as soon as possible. Cold is not appreciated by this warmth-loving plant. Geraniums should therefore not be set outside until after the last frost of the winter and only if the temperature is above 10° C during the day. Important: For ensuring optimum growth make sure these graceful ladies have enough space and ample soil. Choose balcony boxes or planters that are deep enough and be sure to leave at least 20 centimetres between plants. By the way: Some geraniums also cut a good figure in a flowerbed and can grow into small shrubs over time. One essential reason for the popularity of geraniums is their durability. These plants are able to store sufficient water in their stems and thick-walled leaves to survive brief dry spells, even during a heat wave. So nothing can get in the way of a spontaneous weekend trip without a plant sitter. However, to ensure better long-term growth with bountiful blooms, geraniums should be regularly and generously watered. On particularly hot days it can even make sense to water them in the morning and in the evening. But be careful to avoid waterlogging. Flowering can also be encouraged by adding fertilizer to the water once a week. If you don’t want to worry about fertilizing, try a slow-release fertilizer or use geranium soil that is pre-fertilized. This soil is precisely customized to the needs of these plants and guarantees especially good growth. To encourage the plant to create new flowers, it is advisable to deadhead spent flowers and yellowed leaves on a regular basis. There are, however, also “self-cleaning” varieties which do not require this. Overwintering geraniums Many geraniums are actually perennials. Particularly the larger varieties or rare species are worth keeping over the winter. In this case the plants must be pruned before the first night frost to a height of about 15 cm and brought inside to a bright, cool place. The crowns of shrubs and pyramids should be pruned back by one-half. Temperatures between 5 and 10°C are ideal for the rest period. During the winter months the plant needs little water. Dried shoots make the plant appear to be dead during this period. But as soon as temperatures rise in spring and the plant gets more water, it will spring back to life. Before the geranium is taken back outdoors, it should be replanted in fresh soil, if necessary in a larger pot. As long as you observe these care tips, you will be able to enjoy beautifully blooming geraniums from May to October – without a lot of time and effort and without a green thumb.