Miniature Geraniums – Pelargonium species

Many full-sized Geranium plants (Pelargonium species) quickly occupy too much space in the home, but the Miniature and Dwarf forms can be grown for years as they occupy little space. They are very easy plants to care for and flower almost continuously.

A Miniature Geranium is one that is very unlikely to exceed 13cm (5in) in height, and a Dwarf Geranium is one that may grow up to 20cm (8in) tall. Their leaves may be small or even tiny, but their flowers can be quite large and striking.

All of these small Geraniums need to be grown on a sunny windowsill to promote abundant flowering. They are also ideally suited to a small outside window-box for the summer and autumn months, but they will need rehousing before frost sets in.

VarietiesMiniature Geraniums - Pelargonium species

Miniature plants include: ‘Red Black Vesuvius’ with almost black leaves and bright red single flowers; ‘Gay Baby’ is an ivy-leaved type with bright green leaves and pale mauve flowers, ‘Granny Hewitt’ has double red flowers, and ‘Goblin’ has deep red, double flowers.

Dwarf plants include ‘Friesdorf’, single blooms in deep rose pink with very narrow petals; ‘Snowflake’, dark leaves with single white flowers; and ‘Bird Dancer’ has attractively marked leaves and the palest pink flowers with narrow petals.

Scented leaved varieties include P. crispum variegatum, lemon-scented, with cream and white crinkled leaves; P. fragrans variegata, pine-scented with sage-green and yellow leaves, and ‘Little Gem’ with a lemon scent and dull green leaves.

Display ideas

Because of their small scale, Miniature Geraniums are best viewed in close-up. Use single pots, or group three or four together on a narrow but sunny windowsill, where they can easily be viewed.

Varieties such as ‘Red Black Vesuvius’ make excellent plants for a small window-box with a sunny aspect.

Take plants out of their pots and plant in shallow window-boxes filled with soil-based potting compost, or bury the pots in peat within the window-box. Large terracotta pans about 8cm (3in) deep will take a small collection of miniatures. They can be set out at eye-level on patio walls, but will need to overwinter indoors. Half-pots or shallow pans filled with the low-growing,

Plant Problems

Blackleg, also known as ‘black stem rot’, strikes all Pelargonium species at the point where the stem enters the potting mixture. The section of stem turns black and the plant collapses, the rot spreading upwards and downwards. Attacks occur when the potting mixture is too wet for too long. Young stem cuttings are scented-leaved Geraniums are delightful for use in a sunny kitchen window. Plant several together in a 15cm (6in) half-pot and stand in full sun. The plants’ leaves will give off their perfume even without being touched. A light brush will scent the air considerably.

Use small wicker baskets to set off a group of three or four small plants still in their pots. First line the basket with heavy duty polythene or strong kitchen foil, scatter a 25mm (1 in) layer of pebbles or chunky clay granules on the bottom and partly fill with moist peat, set the pots in the peat and fill in with more peat. Remember with all plantings to allow the compost to dry out a little between watering.

Particularly vulnerable to attack during the rooting process.

Treatment: There is no cure for the disease but unaffected sections can be cut from the plant and rooted. Dust cut ends with a fungicide powder. Be very sparing when watering the cuttings, and use a particularly open (well-drained) rooting compost.

GENERAL CARE

These plants are very easy to care for, as long as they are given all the sun available and are allowed to dry out between waterings.

Potting: Use a soil-based potting mixture and repot each spring. Young plants do well in 8cm

(3in) pots. Older ones need pots no bigger than 10cm (4in). See that miniature gardens and window-boxes are well drained.

WATERING

Water thoroughly but always allow some

drying out of the potting mixture between applications during the active growing period. Water sparingly during winter.

Feeding: Feed well-established plants every two weeks during the growing period. Do not feed in winter.

CONDITIONS

Light: These plants must have a position in full sun to flower satisfactorily.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures suit these plants but a cooler winter rest period is advised. Provide a winter minimum of 10°C (50°F). At these low temperatures water just enough to barely moisten the potting compost.

When to buy

The best time to buy is in the spring as a new flush of flowering starts. Available from many outlets or by mail order, but specialist Geranium growers carry a very wide selection.

What to look for

Choose well-shaped, low-growing plants with short gaps between the leaves.

Lifespan

Geraniums will live for many years if given sensible watering and plenty of sunshine.

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