Regal Geranium – Pelargonium domesticum

Regal Geraniums have their origins in South Africa. Although the hybrids grown as house plants are far removed from the wild varieties, they also love the sun.

Regal Geraniums have a shorter flowering season than the popular Zonal or bedding varieties, but they make a spectacular show. The plants have their main flowering season in the spring, with the first buds beginning to show their colour in March. However, some plants continue to bloom as late as July.

Regal Geraniums grow quite vigorously. Normal annual growth is 30-38cm (12-15in). Plants can be grown for several years and become bigger and bigger, but in time the stems often get too woody and the size of the flowers may decrease. Three to four years is normally the maximum for optimum vigour.

Dozens of named hybrids are available. The flowers come in many shades, from very dark red (almost black) to the palest pink; some are pure white. Most have darker centres, usually streaked, and some are bicoloured.Regal Geranium - Pelargonium domesticum

The majority of Regal Geraniums have large floppy flowers, but smaller-flowering types are also available. There are a number of specialist societies devoted to growing these lovely plants.

Growing from cuttings

To make new plants, take 8-10cm (3-4in) cuttings in July or August, and root uncovered in equal parts peat and sand, either singly in small pots, or several around the edge of a 10-13cm (4-5in) pot. When new growth appears pot on in a soil-based potting mixture and place in bright sunlight. Flowers will appear in spring.

Through The Year

March—May

Pot on young plants to give them extra root space and fresh compost. When the first flowers begin to open in April water both young and old plants generously, allowing some slight drying out between applications. Start to feed older plants every two weeks.

June—September

As plants stop flowering, take off old flower-heads and stop feeding to encourage the plant to rest. In mid-August cut back stems that have flowered. Repot and gradually reduce watering. Plants growing in fresh soil-based potting mixture do not need feeding for some weeks and it is often best to wait until spring to begin feeding.

October—February

Give the best light available. Water very sparingly, giving just enough to keep the mixture barely moist. Do not feed.

Plant Problems

Yellow leaves occur when the potting mixture is too dry. This may also cause brown spots on the leaves.

Treatment: Water thoroughly and in the future make certain that the plant has enough water.

Weak growth usually indicates that the plant is not getting enough light. Prevention: Keep in a position with bright sunlight.

Dark, rotting stems are caused by a fungus that grows in damp, dark conditions.

Prevention: Keep in a bright position and do not overwater. If fungus does develop the plant must be discarded.

White insects on the leaves and stems are mealy bugs.

Treatment: Use an insecticide, following the directions on the label.

The plant has lots of leaves but not many flowers. It has been overfed. Treatment: Stop feeding for a few weeks.

PLANT CARE

These plants need care if they are to grow and flower at their best.

  • Potting: For repotting, use a soil-based potting mixture and add a quarter part coarse sand or grit to help drainage. When potting on, use the same potting mixture; in very early spring repot young plants that have overwintered.
  • Water generously in summer, allowing potting mixture to dry out a little between applications. In winter, water sparingly. When buds appear increase the amount of water gradually.
  • Feeding: Feed actively growing plants every two weeks with a tomato liquid fertilizer. Do not feed in resting periods.

GROWING CONDITIONS

  • Light: Give the plant the best possible light. It should be placed in a position where it will have full sun at all times.
  • Temperature: In summer the temperature should be 21-24°C (70-75°F). In winter maintain a minimum temperature between 10 and 15°C (50 and 60°F).

When to buy

Regal Geraniums are available from specialist suppliers and local nurseries or garden centres. Specialist suppliers usually offer hundreds of named varieties. Buy new plants in the spring, just as the flowers are beginning to open.

Choose healthy plants with lots of flower buds and good growth.

Most Regal Geraniums reach their peak after three years, although many live much longer.

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