In this article, we will discuss how to grow and get the best from your indoor pelargoniums to bring colour or scent into your home. Pelargoniums are well known as outdoor species where they bring joy and much welcome colour, but can the same genus be grown indoors?
Well in this article, you will find out along with the best care and best varieties to grow. We will also discuss the potential pitfalls to avoid whilst caring for these plants.
WHAT ARE PELARGONIUMS?
Pelargonium is a genus of 280 species of perennials, succulents and shrubs. What is confusing for most gardeners is that the genus is divided into two different and distinct groups- the geraniums and pelargoniums.
What we call geraniums are actually Pelargoniums, whilst true outdoor geraniums are true perennials and not treated as annuals. The confusion exists because originally they were all one genus of Geranium before they were later separated into the two Genera we are now familiar with. Both genera belong to the family Geraniaceae, the Pelargonium family.
THERE ARE MANY TYPES OF INDOOR PELARGONIUM
They are many varieties of indoor Pelargoniums and more will be discussed later but they can be divided into Zonal, Regal, Angel, Ivy-leaf and Scented-leaved Geraniums.
Pelargoniums are easy to grow and make extremely good indoor plants. There is such a huge variation in colour in terms of the bloom they can produce and the leaves that are formed. If you get the growing conditions right they can be encouraged to flower all year round.
The classical zonal pelargoniums are the ones grown outdoor as bedding plants but they make ideal indoor plants.
Angel and regal Pelargoniums have a bushy shape and have large showy, colourful flowers. The solid, waxy leaves of the ivy-leaved pelargoniums have a trailing habit, making then an excellent specimen for hanging baskets.
The scented leaved geraniums have been bred to encourage the development of scented leaves at the expense of flowers. They actually do flower but they are small and insignificant.
The leaves are the talking point because they are brightly coloured and blousy shaped. Plants tend to grow up to 40cm but taller varieties do exist.
HOW TO BEST CARE FOR PELARGONIUMS
In order to produce sturdy plants that are flowering, it is important to place your plants in the brightest light possible, ideally in some direct sum. A sunny windowsill is ideal and in winter you need to place the plant in the lightest place possible. If you cannot do this, you may need to provide some artificial light to keep the plant in good condition.
Pelargoniums prefer average temperatures between 18 and 25 degree Celsius during the day and around 13 degree Celsius during the night. In summer, the plant will benefit if it is well-ventilated. It is advised that most pelargoniums will benefit from a short spell outdoors, especially during warm weather. To do so, choose a sheltered shaded spot and make sure to bring them indoors when the weather turns cold.
It is best to keep the plants on the dry side rather than keeping the soil overly wet, as this will lead to fungal diseases and potential root rot. Water well in summer but allow the compost to dry out 25% from the surface of the compost before watering again.
In autumn as temperatures fall production will decrease and the plant can be allowed to dry out and almost kept dry for winter. To help in this regard you can cut the plant back by a least a half to encourage fresh growth in spring. As said earlier in a warm environment in bright light and with enough eater the plant can be encouraged to flower throughout winter.
This is one plant that does not like misting as it can tolerate low humidity. Any water on the leaves can lead to moulds, fungal diseases and rot occurring.
For good growth and flower production, you will need to feed your indoor plants regularly during the growing season. You need to feed the plants with high potash, liquid houseplant fertilizer once a month.
It is a good idea to keep the plant pot bound as this will encourage better flower production. Do not forget to prune as mentioned previously.
These plants can suffer from insect infestations that can be severe. They are attacked by aphids, spider mites, scales, and mealybugs. So watch out for these and treat swiftly with a suitable systemic insecticide. They can also suffer from various fungal infections, especially if you overwater such as grey moulds, brown spot and root rot.
VARIETIES TO GROW
PELARGONIUM ANGEL(Derived from Pelargonium crispum)
This is a cross between scented and regal pelargonium and they have a bushy shape, small rounded leaves and masses of small flowers in clusters. The flowers are either white, pink, purple or red or a mix of these colours. The flowers can be described as resembling a pansy, which appears in a large number between spring and early summer. It makes such an ideal houseplant.
PELARGONIUM X DOMESTICUM (Regal Geranium)
This is a neat, bushy plant that has many clusters of large–petalled flowers that come in many colours. Many cultivars exist, although the flowers are not as prolific as zonal or ivy-leaved Pelargoniums, as they can be spasmodic. The plant can grow large, so a large container may be required, especially in the second year of grown from a root cutting.
PELARGONIUM x HORTORUM (Zonal Geranium)
This is well-known for its long-lasting flowers and their decorative variegated leaves. This is one of the tallest pelargonium and one plant that need to be cut back dramatically at the end of the year to encourage new shoots to form and prevent the plant from growing lanky, tall and untidy. Zonal Geranium is one plant that does not like high temperatures, where it must be overwintered in a frost-free location with good ventilation and dry air.
PELARGONIUM PELTATUM (Ivy-leaved Geraniums)
This is a 90cm tall plant that has ivy-shaped leaves and a typical geranium style, single or double blooms in shades of pink, red, purple and white appears on longish stalks. Looks great in a hanging basket. At the end of the year, the plant needs to be cut back and store them in a frost-free location to burst into life next spring.
This is a 90cm tall, bushy, shrubby plant that has strongly scented leaves, more so when they are crushed. They are such a large group whose names descriptive of the scents they produce. Names such as rose, nutmeg, lemon, orange, eucalyptus, apple, pimento and much more that have spices in their names. The plants can become very scraggily and woody as the plant ages and may need drastic cutting back unless you want a large specimen.
In this article, we have discussed the best way to grow your indoor pelargoniums. If you want a houseplant that is not only colourful to look at in the leaves that they produce but also one that produces numerous flowers that cover many pastel colours, then this is a plant for you. The leaves can be scented as well, so you have plenty of choices.
They tend to be easy to look after, provided you do nay overwater and prune them to manage them and to stop them from becoming untidy and leggy. A plant that will look great in any home.
If you have any question or comments that you wish to make on this houseplant, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy pelargonium growing.