Department of Horticulture New York State Horticulture Study Guide for Youth 4-H Logo


Flowers &
Indoor Plants

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Cornell University

Pelargonium x hortorum
(pell-ar-go-nee-um hor-tore-um)

Click on thumbnails for larger image.

What about it?

The geranium comes from southern Africa. It is a hybrid and a horticultural annual. Leaves are 3-5 inches and scalloped, covered with fine hairs, and smell somewhat fishy. The flowers come in shades of red, pink, or white, and in an umbel formation. The plant can grow up to 18 inches.

What is it used for?

Geraniums are most commonly used as bedding/border plants or in planters. They have a long blooming period and are therefore good for decorative plantings.

Where does it grow? How do we grow it?

Geraniums grow best in well-drained soil in the full sun. They will tolerate partial shade though. They should be spaced 12-18 inches apart from one another. When at the nursery, buy rooted plants, although there are types available that start from seeds. There are also dwarf varieties and plants with fragrant foliage. Remove the faded flower clusters.

What are its primary problems?

Geraniums can be a problem so you need to keep your eyes on them. They are susceptible to the following: aphids, mealybugs, white flies, black stem rot, black leg, and root rot.

How do we propagate it?

As mentioned above, cuttings are easier and faster. But if you want to try your hand at seed propagation, listen up! Sow the seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost. The sprouts will germinate unevenly over a 3-8 week period. Transfer the sprouts to 2 inch pots after the first true leaves appear and eventually to 4 inch pots.

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Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.