Gardening Magazine

Geraniums to the Rescue

By Gardenamateur

Gardeners are not alone when it comes to carefully-thought-out plans not quite going to plan, but at least when things go wrong for we growers of plants, we can at least plant something else and things can still work out OK. That's what is starting to happen here, and it's good old geraniums to the rescue!

In our case, my brilliant plan was to see our row of four Gardenia magnifica plants rising up 1.5 to 2m (5-6 feet) tall, almost covering our boring off-white steel fence with their glossy green foliage and fragrant white flowers. Nice plan! The trouble is that they are struggling rather badly. The tallest is just 1m tall, and the others are lagging behind. Don't worry, I'm working on it...

Geraniums to the rescue

Here's the problem, and the solution
(well, the solution under way). Those
gardenias' assignment was to fill the
space that is now occupied by bare
white steel fencing. Hopefully a bit of
soil pH measuring and adjusting, then
whammo with the chicken poo and the
Seasol and water should get those gardenias
growing in autumn, but in the meantime....

... our immediate problem was that steel fence. Pammy and I discussed our options, hanging baskets were the obvious answer, and trailing, flowering plants spilling from the baskets became the dream. Well folks, our dreams are blooming!

Geraniums to the rescue

And part B of our gap-filling job happened down at ground level, with geraniums to the rescue again. Instead of looking at the scrawny gardenias, visitors say "my, your old-fashioned red geraniums are doing well!" (and of course they say nothing about our boring, scrawny gardenias). 
Geraniums to the rescue

These red geraniums are sold as 'Big Red' and they cost too much for me (almost $20 a pop) to buy the five plants I think we'll need, so I bought just two and have taken cuttings from them. Geraniums strike from cuttings so incredibly easily, and so their babies are growing along very well already, have been planted in place, and some are sending up their first baby flower spikes already. And that, folks, is a saving of 60 bucks for this penny-pinching semi-retired gardener!
Geraniums to the rescue

There's something about rich red geraniums which make them my favorite old-fashioned geranium color combo. I think it's that tone of red in combination with that tone of green. Love it!

Geraniums to the rescue

And if you're wondering about those hanging baskets (for Australian readers) they are 'Tuscan' planters by Yates, bought from (you guessed it) Bunnings. For the last two decades I have used wire-framed hanging baskets lined with coir, and while they look nice they do deteriorate fast and they do dry out fast and they are rather a lot of hard work. I'm trying plastic for the first time and I suspect they will work fine, will soon disappear from view behind a veil of green ivy geranium leaves and quietly go about their business rather well. They also have a "water well" in the base of the pots for the roots to drink from (once they grow that deep). PS: and if you want to tell me that these geraniums are actually pelargoniums, and not geraniums, go on, I know you're dying to!

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