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Garden Guide: This is why you should grow Geraniums this summer

Geraniums are a common summer flower, but did you know some have a scent that can keep the bugs away?

Alex Calamia

May 22, 2024, 8:52 AM

Updated 32 days ago

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Geraniums are a classic summer annual in our area, but come in all shapes and sizes. Actually, the summer annuals we call geraniums are known as pelargonium. Hardy, perennial geraniums are native flowers that come back every year, prefer shade, and typically bloom in spring.
Pelargoniums are the plants everyone call geraniums but are summer annuals in our area. These plants are native to frost-free parts of South Africa. Their history dates back to the 17th century in England, and today there are more than 17,000 varieties.
For the purpose of this article, going forward "Geranium" refers to the freeze sensitive Pelargoniums that we grow as summer annuals.

Types of Geraniums:

Zonal Geraniums

These are your classic geraniums! There are many different varieties, most come in shades of pink, red, and white. Although sold as annuals, they are very easy to overwinter as houseplants or in a garage that remains above freezing. These plants can survive long freezes and actually bloom more frequently when temperatures are under 85F. Prune off spent flowers to improve the overall look of your plant.

Regal geraniums

These plants are often seen for sale earlier in the growing season. They are absolute eye candy, but unfortunately don’t perform well during the summertime. They bloom best when temperatures are in the 60s and fade in the warmer weather. These plants do great inside the house on a sunny windowsill.

Ivy Geraniums

These trailing geraniums can’t handle as much heat as the zonal geraniums, but new varieties generally do very well in our summertime weather. The flower heads are smaller than the classic zonal geraniums but are more numerous. These plants look spectacular in hanging baskets or window boxes.
Scented Geraniums
Although geraniums are known for their flowers, some are grown for their fragrance! Scented geraniums give off an incredibly strong aroma when touched. Some varieties smell like apple, others have a citrus, mint, or even chocolate! Citronella is a type of geranium often sold as a "Mosquito plant". Mosquitoes tend to stay away from strong fragrances and citronella oil has been known to reduce the number of mosquitoes in an area.
My word of caution: Citronella plants won’t reduce mosquitoes on their own. The fragrance only works to reduce mosquitoes when crushed or infused into oils for candles, diffusers, and bug sprays.


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