Zonal geraniums can last for years with the right growing conditions. The red geraniums pictured in this article are the first plant my husband and I acquired when we were married. They are very unique and add a velvety, radiant color to our desert garden even with the record-breaking 2012 temperatures.
This red flower is called a zonal geranium. What is a zonal geranium? Zonal geraniums are the genus Pelargoniums, and are NOT true geraniums. This species of flowering plants work well in Arizona and Texas because they are drought resistant, perennial and heat tolerant. Zonal geraniums originated from South Africa and have become very popular as bedding and container plants.
Important fact: Geraniums, Pelargoniums, are poisonous to dogs and cats. If your pet eats a geranium contact your local veterinarian right away.
I’m always on the lookout for a plant that adds a softness to a thorny, spiky desert garden. Amazingly, a red geranium can thrive almost as well as a cactus. We have several throughout our Arizona yard that are either in full sun or sparse shade. All of our zonal geraniums are doing well; but, the ones with semi shade have larger leaves and more flowers.
Caring for geraniums is easy:
- They love the sun but do well in sparse shade especially with high temperatures
- Plant Pelargoniums when there is no danger of frost, they do not like the cold
- In the fall plants may be dug up and brought indoors by a sunny window away from your dogs and cats
- Water geraniums when the top 2 inches of the soil feels dry
- Zonal geraniums are critter proof and virtually insect free
Pelargoniums are low-maintenance and a great choice for xeriscape yards. Grow your geraniums from seed or plant cuttings.
If your geranium has yellow or red leaves it is experiencing stress in some way. The most common causes of red or yellow leaves are:
- your geranium – pelargonium is over-watered
- phosphorus deficiencies, are you fertilizing? If it has gotten cooler at night and the temperature drops below 55 your geranium will not be able to absorb trace minerals.
- another possibility is too much sun
- or planted too close together
Too diagnose the problem simply look at the exact conditions your plant is growing in.
Even with the best of care a few leaves will inevitably turn yellow; simply remove them along with spent flowers.
In the fall temperatures drop and red leaves on pelargoniums are a sign that it is time to move indoors or to take cuttings from annual cultivars.
October is barely here and I’m already daydreaming about plans for a colorful, lush spring heat-resistant garden.