How and When to Plant Geraniums

Learn how to grow and care for these flowering beauties in your own container garden or backyard.

Gardening tools

Gardening tools

Pot of geraniums flowers with gardening tools

Photo by: Elena Elisseeva

Elena Elisseeva

Geraniums are one of the most classic and easily recognizable flowering plants in American gardens. But, how difficult are they to grow and maintain? It actually may not be as hard as you imagined. Geraniums are a fairly simple to start plant and require little maintenance, which could be part of the reason they are so popular. Follow along as we take a look at the basics of starting and maintaining a lush, flowering garden of geraniums. 

Ideal Growing Conditions

An extremely versatile flowering plant, geraniums can be grown as annuals, perennials or indoor plants. They are, perhaps, most frequently grown outdoors in planters. You’ll often see them lining the steps to a front entry or in groupings on a light-filled stoop. 

While conditions vary slightly from one variety to another, geraniums tend to be sun-loving plants, so whether you pot them in containers or plant them in the ground they need to be placed in an area where they will get plenty of sun — ideally six to seven hours per day. However, geraniums don’t have to be in a full-sun environment; they can also grow well in partial sun or shade, adding to their versatility. Whatever area you choose, make certain it has fertile, well-drained soil. 

When and How to Plant

Spring is the ideal planting time for geraniums. You’ll want to wait until after your area’s last hard frost. If planting in the ground, space them 6–24 inches apart. If potting in a container, don’t overcrowd the space. With attentive care and favorable conditions, you can expect to see blooms through early fall. What’s more, if you plant in containers you can bring them indoors to overwinter them, and you’ll be able to enjoy them outdoors during the next spring and summer. 

Care and Maintenance

Routinely water your geraniums to keep them at their peak. You will want to allow the soil to dry out between waterings to help avoid root rot; however, do not allow the leaves on your plant to wilt. When the plant begins to wilt, you may try to revive it by overcompensating with extra water. This can lead to leaf drop, which doesn’t make for an attractive display of geraniums. Remember, for the best results, be consistent.

Throughout the growing season, be sure deadhead the flowers, removing dead blooms and dried leaves. Also, note that over-fertilizing will result in poor blooms. If you are using a water-mixed fertilizer, once per month should be plenty to properly feed your plants without overwhelming them. Remember, geraniums are relatively low maintenance, so there’s no need to be overprotective of the beauties.

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