Can you grow geraniums indoors

Growing Geraniums Indoors

Potted geraniums (Pelargonium species) are excellent indoor plants and can be grown indoors throughout the year. They are typically available from March through June, and will flower continuously if provided with enough light in the home. Many new types are available, including vining and hanging basket cultivars. They can be purchased in various stages of growth and in many different types of containers.

Zonal geraniums or Common Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) usually have pink red, or white flowers.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Types

  • Zonal geraniums or Common Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) usually have distinct leaf markings. They include selections with tri-colored leaves, silver leaves, leaves with white markings and fancy-leafed geraniums. Flower colors are usually pink, red or white.

Ivy-leafed Geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) are trailing in habit and have leaves that resemble ivy leaves.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

  • Ivy-leafed Geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) are trailing in habit and have leaves that resemble ivy leaves. They are commonly used in hanging baskets and window boxes.

Martha Washington Geraniums (Pelargonium x domesticum ‘Regal’) are not heat tolerant and will not perform well outdoors.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

  • Martha Washington Geraniums (Pelargonium x domesticum) are available from many florists during the winter months as flowering pot plants. They are not heat-tolerant and will not perform as well outdoors as the common geranium.

Culture

Soil Mix & Container: Plant geraniums in window boxes, tubs, hanging baskets or other large pot containers. Each container must have good drainage. The potting medium should be well-drained and high in organic matter. A good mixture might contain equal parts of garden loam, peat moss and coarse sand or perlite. Professionally prepared commercial soil mixes may also be satisfactory. You may have to try several before you find one that gives good results for your particular growing conditions.

Watering: Inspect your plant each day to make sure it has enough moisture. Geraniums respond favorably to having the soil dry out somewhat between each watering. Apply enough water so that some drains from the bottom of the container each time you water. Water only as needed, checking the soil for dryness to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.

Fertilizing: Soluble or slow-release fertilizers are best for container-grown plants. Fertilize semi-monthly from March through October. If plants are being grown where light intensity is low or indoors during the winter months, reduce the amount of fertilizer accordingly. Apply fertilizer according to directions on the label, and make sure that the soil is moist before applying.

Light & Temperature: Bright light is essential to keep geraniums in flower throughout the year. South- and west-facing windowsills are the best locations for geraniums, especially during the winter months. If strong, natural light is not available in the home, artificial light is acceptable. Satisfactory results can be obtained if the plants are placed 12 inches beneath a 40-watt, daylight, cool fluorescent bulb for 16 hours each day. Temperatures during the day of 65 to 70 ºF and around 55 ºF at night are ideal. Avoid placing geraniums in cold, hot or drafty areas.

Overwintering Geraniums

Geraniums are not winter-hardy and must be brought inside before frost if you wish to keep them. Gardeners wishing to overwinter their geraniums can try several techniques. Before the first frost, dig large geraniums from the garden and plant in pots large enough to hold their root system. Discard any plants with evidence of insects or diseases. Cut back the top of the plant to 6 inches in height, and place in a sunny window. You can also take cuttings in the fall, and keep the small potted plants on a windowsill during the winter months. Transplant to the landscape or keep in pots once the danger of frost has passed.

Problems

Overwatering and high humidity may cause oedema, resulting in small, corky cell production on the leaves. Reduce watering and increase light levels to control this problem. Botrytis blossom blight can develop in cool, damp conditions. This disease causes premature fading and drying of flowers. Remove old flowers as soon as they start to fade, and provide good air circulation. Common insect pests include mealybugs, caterpillars, mites, whiteflies and aphids.

Information on how to grow geraniums outdoors is available in HGIC 1164, Geranium.

Tips for Growing Geraniums Indoors

Geraniums are often considered an outdoor plant, but they can also thrive in indoor containers. Geraniums come in many shapes, sizes, colors and even smells, so it is easy to find variety that fits your interior landscaping needs.

Scented Geraniums

Scented geraniums have leaves that mimic the smells of other botanicals. The scent is released by rubbing the leaves between your fingers. There are varieties that smell like roses, fruits, such as lemon and lime, spices, mints, and pines. Scented geraniums are not grown for their flowers, but they do produce small colorful flowers. For more information about specific varieties of scented geraniums see this thorough post from Mother Earth Living.

Ivy Geraniums

Ivy Geraniums are trailing geraniums that are well suited for hanging baskets, wall sconces and window boxes. These plants can also be trained to grow up a trellis. Most ivy geraniums have large flowers that come in white, pink, purple, orange, and red. Guide to Houseplants suggests looking for the species Pelargonium peltatum to ensure you are purchasing a trailing geranium. The article recommends the cultivar ‘Mauve Beauty’ for its beautiful double flowers.

Martha Washington Geraniums

Martha Washington geraniums are also known as lady geraniums. They are specifically an indoor plant because they have a difficult time growing in a warmer temperatures. They will only bloom once if the temperature rises above 70 degrees. In cooler, indoor conditions the plant will thrive and continue to produce blooms.

Common Geraniums

Common geraniums are the geraniums typically used as bedding plants. They will also thrive planted in indoor containers. The Clemson Cooperative Extension claims they are known for their beautiful foliage that comes in silvers, greens and green with white. The flowers are typically pink, red or white and will bloom continuously when well cared for.

Potting

Geraniums like plenty of space to grow and the plants can grow quite large, so be sure you have plenty of space for a large container. The container must encourage good drainage. The Clemson Cooperative Extension suggests using a potting mix that is equal parts garden loam, peat moss and course sand. Geraniums prefer to dry a bit between waterings. The Clemson Cooperative Extension recommends letting the potting medium dry to a depth of up to 6 inches in between waterings.

Light

Geraniums like plenty bright sunlight. Providing as much light as possible will encourage growth and flowering. Garden Guides points out that Martha Washington geraniums will fade in too much direct sunlight. A sheer curtain over the window, or simply moving the plant a few feet away from the window during full sun hours will prevent damaging these geraniums.

Fertilizer

To encourage healthy growth and continuous blooms Garden Guides suggests adding liquid fertilizer every other month during the spring and summer months. Instead of liquid fertilizer, you can use a slow release fertilizer, such as Osmocote, added directly to the potting medium.

Adding Color

Geraniums are an excellent way to add mounds of color to your indoor landscaping. With enough bright light you can include vibrant attractive flowers in you indoor arrangements throughout the year. What varieties of geraniums have you grown indoors?

Learn how to grow geranium indoors, growing geranium as a houseplant will allow you to have them year round. Check out!

Love geraniums? That’s good! Now you might be asking– Is it possible to grow geraniums indoors? Definitely yes, although growing geranium indoors is not as easy as other houseplants. There are some basic key requirements and geranium care information you need to know.

As you know geraniums (Pelargonium) are not winter hardy in cold climate, the best way to grow them year-round is to grow them indoors.

Choosing a type of geranium you want to grow

Choose healthy geranium plants from a nearby nursery. Look out for your favorite flower colors and scents. Also, remember some of the geranium cultivars never bloom and grown for their fragrant leaves only. Mother Earth Living has good information on geranium varieties you can grow indoors.

Requirements for Growing Geranium Indoors

Location

Geraniums love the sun and don’t mind drenching in sunlight for long hours. Therefore, if your room has a South or West facing window, place them there. Even when grown indoors geranium requires exposure to direct sun in order to thrive and bloom.

If you can’t keep the geranium near a sunny window use 40-watt supplemental fluorescent tube lighting fixed 12 inches over the plants for minimum 14 hours each day to help them growing.

Soil

Don’t forget, the right soil is the key! Avoid soil that blocks the drainage holes. Use soilless potting mix. Don’t use garden soil, the texture of soil should be well-drained and loamy.

Watering

Here comes the most important part, proper watering ensures whether your geranium plant will live or die. As we know geranium is a drought-tolerant plant, it doesn’t require regular watering. Water only when the soil seems dry. Avoid overwatering!

Temperature

Avoid placing your geranium plants in cold, hot or drafty spots. Geranium adjusts well to room temperature if it is warm. However, during the day the temperature around 65 to 70 F and around 55 F at night are optimum.

Indoor Geranium Plant Care

During the growing season fertilize every month using half strength all purpose liquid fertilizer for optimum growth. Instead, you can use slow release fertilizer as well.

Pinching and Pruning

To have a bushy, well-branched indoor geranium plant, remove the tips occasionally. Also, you can prune or cut the stems to get the desired shape.

Overwintering

As geraniums are not winter hardy it is important that you keep them away from drafts and too much cold. Also, watering must be reduced too!

Pests and Diseases

Overwatering can cause root rot, wetting the leaves while watering leads to fungal infection. In pests, mites, mealybugs, and aphids can be a problem.

Geranium Care: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Geranium Flowers

The geranium is an iconic, fragrant garden flower. American growers first fell in love with the geranium flower over 200 years ago, and it’s not hard to see why. Geraniums fill hanging baskets, containers and flower beds with fancy leaves that are as attractive as the clusters of dainty blooms they surround. Planting geraniums can be extremely easy and rewarding. All you need are a few simple geranium flower care tips.

  • What are Geraniums?
  • Popular Types of Geraniums
  • Tips for Planting, Growing & Caring for Geraniums
  • Geranium FAQs

What Are Geraniums?

This popular garden plant is hiding a secret – it isn’t a true geranium. Garden geraniums, also known as annual geraniums, are actually from the genus Pelargonium. Originating in South Africa, the garden geranium made its way to North America from France in 1786. Thomas Jefferson’s first geranium cuttings soon multiplied to generations of gardeners as they were passed to friends and family.

Most areas of the United States can grow geraniums as an annual. They can even be grown as perennials in extremely warm areas, such as the southern coastal areas of California. Many dedicated gardeners over-winter their geranium plants indoors for replanting in the spring. Some even grow geraniums indoors as houseplants all year long. The geranium is a truly versatile plant.

Popular Types of Geraniums

Few plants offer as many options as geraniums. With over 300 species, they’re available in a wide range of bloom color and types, foliage and even scent. They range in size from a compact 6 inches to several feet of blooms. The four most popular varieties of geraniums are:

  • Zonal geraniums – the classic geraniums you recognize. With single or double blooms in white, pink, red, burgundy, yellow, orange and purple, Zonal geraniums are easy growers, heat tolerant and drought resistant. The Classic, Tango and Rocky Mountain cultivars all come in a wide variety of colors.
  • Regal geraniums – also known as Marsha Washington geraniums. They feature large multicolored blooms and are considered a delicate variety, yet they thrive with the proper care. They perform best in cooler areas and will not flower in hot summer temperatures. Unique cultivars include Ace High, Brown’s Butterfly, Blue Orchid and Coral Sea.
  • Ivy geraniums – create abundant mounds of cascading flowers. The leaves are shiny and resemble ivy. The single, semi-double and double flowers bloom from early spring to the first frost of fall. Try Summer Showers, Contessa and White Mesh cultivars for abundant blooms.
  • Scented geraniums – have scented leaves with a velvety texture. While they don’t bloom as profusely as other varieties, they are a favorite of many gardeners. Although there are endless variations, popular scents include roses, apricots, apple and mint. The cultivar name often hints to the geranium’s scent, such as Chocolate Mint, Ginger, Lemon Balm and Lime.

If you’re looking to plant an authentic hardy geranium from the Geraniaceae family, you have plenty of options. Most are perennials in Zones 3 to 8, and the majority feature strong rhizomes that spread easily. Some of the more popular hardy geraniums make excellent ground cover. Consider planting cultivars from the genus Geranium macrorrhizum or the hybrids Geranium cantabrigiense and Geranium oxonianum. Between these three hybrids, hundreds of cultivars are available.

Tips for Planting, Growing & Caring for Geraniums

You don’t need to be a master gardener to know how to grow geraniums. Geraniums care little for fancy fertilizers or specialized soils, and they require just a bit of basic care to thrive.

  • Soil for Geraniums
    The perfect soil for geraniums is a loose soil with plenty of organic matter. If your soil is on the heavy side, incorporate peat, compost or perlite. Manure and vermiculite are not recommended.
  • Where to Plant Geraniums
    You can plant geraniums in almost all gardening zones. Despite knowing this, you may still be asking do geraniums need full sun? Geraniums require plenty of sunlight to flower, but in areas with hot summers, a bit of shade is recommended. When it comes to how much sunlight do geraniums need, the answer depends on the specific geranium and your garden zone. The ideal location has morning sun, afternoon shade and well-draining soil. Choose a properly-sized area for your geranium flower beds. Appropriate spacing in between plants will reduce the risk of disease.
  • When to Plant Geraniums
    Don’t rush the planting season – geraniums are not cold hardy. But if you wait too long, you risk missing the cool night temperatures that encourage budding. Knowing how to grow geraniums outdoors begins with planting at the proper time. Wait until the danger of the last frost has passed and your soil reaches 60 degrees F.
  • Fertilizer for Geraniums
    Geraniums require light fertilization. If you feed them too much, the foliage will flourish at the expense of the blooms. Although you may see it in your garden center, you don’t need to purchase a specialty geranium fertilizer. For a gentle fertilization, mix 2 tablespoons of a water soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer into 1 gallon of water. Apply this solution every three weeks throughout the growing season.
  • Growing Geraniums in Pots
    Wondering how to plant geraniums in pots? It’s actually as easy as planting them in the ground. You need loose, well-draining soil, consistent watering and low levels of fertilization.Geraniums grow well in containers of all shapes and sizes, as long as they have drainage holes. The key to successfully growing geraniums in pots is to place them in sunny locations and out of damaging winds.

    The added benefit of growing geraniums in pots is that you can simply move pots inside during the winter. When placed in a sunny window, geraniums will thrive as a houseplant even in the coldest months. In spring, gradually move them back outdoors after the last frost.

  • Watering Geraniums
    Because you need to water geraniums thoroughly and deeply, take the time to leave an irrigation furrow around each plant to serve as a watering reservoir. This allows the water to pool and then gently filter down through the soil. To avoid root rot, allow soil to become dry between watering. Watering at ground level with a soaker hose keeps water off the foliage and protects against disease.Soil in pots tends to get warm, so growing geraniums in containers requires regular watering. The drainage holes help prevent root rot, so you don’t have to wait for the soil to dry out in between waterings.

    How much water do geraniums need? It’s going to require simply watching your plants. For proper geranium plant care, avoid letting your geraniums to wilt. Cycles of wilting and revival will result in poor flower production and the dropping of leaves.

  • Pruning Geraniums
    Annual geraniums that are planted outdoors don’t require pruning, but regular deadheading can help prevent disease and increase production. Simply pinch off the entire flower stalk after the flowers fade and remove dry leaves from the plants.The geranium houseplant tends to become long legged and thin. Regularly prune by pinching the growing points to encourage branching.
  • Common Pests and Diseases for Geraniums
    The majority of insects and other pests avoid geraniums. However, botrytis and other fungus attacks can occur during cooler, wet weather. Commercial fungicides provide some protection. Overwatering can cause problems such as oedema and root rot.

Geranium FAQs

Are geraniums annuals or perennials?

Garden geraniums are considered annuals throughout all but the warmest areas of North America. That said, you can force them to be perennials by providing the plants with shelter for the winter. Known as “over-wintering,” this process involves digging up garden perennials and moving them into a cool, yet sheltered environment for the winter. Potted geraniums can simply be moved indoors during the winter. The key to proper blooming in the spring involves exposing the plants to cool temperatures of around 55 degrees F while protecting them from cold nights and frosts.

Can you grow geraniums from seed?

While it is possible to grow some types of geraniums from seed, for hundreds of years, stem cuttings have been the popular way to propagate geraniums. Most geraniums grow easily from stem cuttings in vermiculite or sterile soil. New seed-grown cultivars allow for the starting of new plants indoors. Multibloom, Cameo and Maverick all perform well from seed. Growing geraniums from seed requires a head start. Sow geranium seeds indoors in mid-January in a warm, sunny spot.

Growing geraniums indoors vs outdoors

Geranium care outdoors and geranium care indoors are very similar. Both require plenty of sunlight, careful watering and light levels of fertilization. Growing geraniums outdoors requires a bit more attention to soil drainage and moisture levels. The drainage holes in indoor containers helps to keep moisture regulated.

You can easily grow geraniums in pots and move them between the inside and outside of your home, particularly useful if you live in an area with harsh winters. As fall fades into winter and temperatures begin to drop, simply bring your pots inside to protect your pretty plants.

As mentioned, geraniums thrive indoors, and can actually grow all year round as beautiful houseplants. Geranium care in pots is very similar to that of garden care. However, they do require cool temperatures in the spring to begin setting buds. Moving your plants to a cool space within the house should help with blooming.

What plants grow well with geraniums?

Geraniums are beneficial companion plants. Because they repel many insects and pests, they’re a traditional companion for roses. You can also plant them with other plants that often become pest targets, such as corn, grapes and cabbage.

Are geraniums good for hanging baskets?

With full mounds of colorful flowers, geranium hanging baskets are an excellent choice. Hang baskets where they’re sheltered from the wind and receive plenty of sunlight. If you are hanging geraniums indoors, a southern facing window is ideal.

How do you put geraniums away for winter?

Geraniums are not fickle at all – with a few simple steps, you can help them survive the winter so you can enjoy them year-round. If your plants are already in pots, just bring them indoors.
If you’ve planted them in your garden or beds, be sure to bring them in before the first frost. Gently dig them up and pot them in 8 inch pots using a lightweight potting soil. You can take this time to propagate your plants by cutting them in half. Plant the new roots to double the enjoyment. Bring them inside and place near a sunny window.

With the rainbow of flower and leaf colors, it is hard to watch beautiful and costly geraniums die from a hard frost. There are several ways to keep those geraniums through the winter for a head start on blooms next spring and a savings to your garden budget.

Keep them growing in containers

Geraniums grow easily indoors in containers with proper care and environmental conditions. Before the first frost, cut back plants to half of their original size and inspect them for signs of insects or disease. Then, dig up healthy plants and transplant into containers. Use a potting mix made for containerized plants instead of garden soil. Garden soil is often heavy, compacted, and drains poorly in containers. Place containerized plants in a cool location with plenty of bright, direct sunlight. Water plants well after potting and as needed when the soil begins to dry. Shoot tips may need pinching once or twice during the winter to promote branching and prevent weak growth. Before planting outside in May, fertilize lightly. Plants kept in containers over the winter are typically larger than most geraniums sold in the spring. This allows you to have a head start on growth and blooms for next year’s garden.

Taking cuttings from outdoor plants

Geraniums root readily from cuttings. This is also a great way to multiply the number of plants for next year’s garden. To take a cutting, remove a 3- to 4-inch section of the plant’s stem tip with a sharp knife. Pinch off the leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip the cut end into a rooting hormone. Rooting hormones are sold in powder or liquid form at your local garden center or discount store. Stick the cuttings in a moist, porous, well-drained rooting media such as coarse sand, perlite, or vermiculite. Cuttings can be rooted in individual pots or several cuttings can be placed per container. Make sure the container has holes for drainage. Ideally, cuttings root best in a moist, humid environment. This is easy to achieve by securing a clear plastic bag over the cuttings and container. This “mini-greenhouse” should be placed in bright, but indirect light. Check the media occasionally to insure it remains evenly moist. Rooting normally occurs in 6 to 8 weeks. After roots are approximately 1-inch long, transplant cuttings into a 3- to 4-inch container with a standard well-drained potting soil. Place in a sunny window and water as needed. Pinch shoot tips back to force branching and prevent spindly growth. New plants produced from cuttings should be vigorous and about the same size as most geraniums sold in spring.

Dormant Storage

Geraniums are unusual and unlike many annual flowers, they have the ability to survive for most of the winter without soil. If properly stored, they can resist extended dry periods due to their thick, succulent-like stems. To overwinter geraniums in dormant storage, dig up the entire plant before frost and gently shake the soil from the roots. Place the plants inside open paper bags or hang them upside-down from the rafters in a cool, dark location for the winter. Ideally the temperature should be between 45-50 F. Two or three times during the winter, take the plants out the bags or down from the rafters and soak the roots in water for 1 or 2 hours. At this time, inspect the stems. While many of the leaves will die and fall off, the stems should remain firm and solid. Discard any geraniums with shriveled stems, since those plants will most likely die. Pot up healthy dormant geraniums in containers in late March or early April. Water plants thoroughly and cut back the dead stem tips. Place potted plants in a sunny window to initiate new growth. It often takes several weeks for plants to initiate growth after dormant storage.

No matter how geraniums have been overwintered, they should be healthy, free-flowering plants for spring. After being indoors all winter, your geraniums may be as anxious as you are for spring planting. Plant them after the danger of frost has passed and enjoy their colorful blooms all summer. You can invest your savings in new geranium varieties to overwinter next year.

This article originally appeared in the 9/17/2004 issue.

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