Before I begin on Pelargoniums this week I will just try and clarify the difference between pelargoniums and geraniums, as I know there can be some confusion here. Regal and zonal pelargoniums are used for indoor display or in outdoor summer bedding schemes. Zonal pelargoniums are however commonly referred to as geraniums and that is where the confusion comes about because the genus Geranium (Cranes Bill) actually consists of several hundred species of hardy herbaceous perennials.
Zonal pelargoniums have the longest flowering period of the two types, blooming from spring well into autumn and over winter too if you can provide a bright frost-free spot for them. The range of flower colours is vast so there should be something to suit all tastes and there are some very attractive leaf shapes and colours too. Regals may flower over a shorter period but they put on a splendid show.
Both types require the growing tips to be pinched out whilst the plants are in early growth. This will encourage bushy growth, which in turn will lead to more flowers. If you have over-wintered zonal pelargoniums prune them back in spring and re-pot. Regals can be trimmed back in the autumn when they have finished flowering.
Trailing varieties make ideal subjects for hanging baskets and have ivy-shaped leaves.
After watering the pot well, ensure that the compost is moderately dry before you water again.
Pelargoniums are ideal for south-facing windowsills and conservatories, as they require direct sunlight to perform well.
Several scented-leaf varieties of pelargonium are also available including lemon scented and peppermint scented. Although the flowers tend to be quite small on most of these varieties, they are certainly worth growing for their scent alone.
Now is a good time to consider adding pelargoniums to your list of plants to grow on for the summer garden.