Desert Plants

Red Geraniums made # 7 in my top Ten Heat Resistant plants for southern Arizona

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.

Zonal Geranium in Arizona

planted zonal geraniums in Arizona

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.

zonal geraniums bedding

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 🙂
heat resistant geraniums

hanging basket of Red Geraniums in Arizona

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:

  1. your geranium – pelargonium is over-watered
  2. 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.
  3. another possibility is too much sun
  4. or planted too close together

Too diagnose the problem simply look at the exact conditions your plant is growing in.

Red Geranium is a zonal geranium

Pelargonium is a zonal geranium

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.

 

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11 replies »

  1. My mother plants tons of those exact flowers here with results as good as you’ve described. Almost everything that originates in So Africa does well in South Florida…many people assume these African plants native to our area….yours too, I’d imagine!

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  2. A great article again Tj! Everyone has pelargoniums in their pots and window boxes here in summer, and many take cuttings. Keeping them in centrally heated homes through winter is sometimes hard, but I have a cool light cellar! I agree that they are invaluable as summer flowers!

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    • Close to what could be a perfect flower … Thanks Cathy and cellars are wonderful! They do not make cellars in the desert 😦

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  3. I would love to visit your garden and see it all with my own eyes, It sounds like a special and wondrous place. Pity I am 7500 miles across the sea… 🙂 Keep up the great informative posts! Blessings to you!

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