Even the star of the balcony plants only wants to reproduce = flowering, if everything else is right – we will show you how to get your geraniums in the best flowering mood.
Table of Contents
Possible causes of refusal to flower
Plants bloom in order to reproduce, and reproduction is an act of strength, even for plants, which can only be undertaken by young, vigorous individuals. If a geranium does not feel like reproducing, it is missing something – and all you have to do is find out what is wrong with it or what is bothering it. Whereby “just” is meant slightly ironic – the geranium comes from South Africa and is used to warm and friendly weather with lots of sun all year round, the day and night average temperatures during the flowering period are around 23 ° C.
With us, it has to withstand other conditions: Our average summer temperatures are a pitiful 16 ° C, and it doesn’t help the geraniums much if these summer temperatures tend towards 17 ° C in the course of global warming. Our sun and, above all, the intensity of its radiation cannot be compared with what the Cape flora receives – South Africa is significantly closer to the equator than Germany. Although they grow in desert areas in Southeast Africa, geraniums never suffer from a lack of moisture in their homeland, because the Cape flora is spoiled by copious winter rain during its heyday. On the German balcony, especially in the most beautiful geranium locations, the geraniums quickly suffer from drought in the heat and often from too much moisture in damp weather.
Viewed all round, the flowers, which normally bloom hard, live under rather precarious circumstances here. Especially in combination, even minor care mistakes can mean that the plant “first has to take care of itself” and not about flower production:
- The geranium freezes, which it already does when the temperatures are well below 23 ° C for a longer period of time
- Or if you have cold wind blowing around the shoot at night in a warm location
- The geranium gets too little sun or light
- The geranium is in too moist soil because it is constantly being watered
- Or the drain hole in the balcony box is (partially) blocked
- The geraniums get soaking wet with every rain
- And then at some point attacked by fungi
- The rather hungry plant suffers from a lack of nutrients
- Or cannot absorb nutrients well because it was bought with root damage
- Geraniums were planted in poor (peat) substrate that compacts in no time and allows water to flow through
- The weakened plant was attacked by pests such as aphids, bladder feet, white flies
- Geraniums, which have been overwintered several times, at some point fade away from simple old age in the joy of flowering
If all these deficiencies are remedied as well as possible, the bloom will certainly also have something to do with it:
Care tips for a magnificent geranium bloom
Geraniums are actually called pelargoniums and, like the native cranesbills, belong to the cranesbill family, but it is not without reason that they are grouped together as their own genus Pelargonium. Our “secret balcony stars” are by no means as easy to care for and robust as the native cranesbills, but have some very decided requirements that are not easy to meet with us.
Since the pelargonium-geraniums react with colds if their requirements are not met, you can only count on a magnificent geranium blossom if you give the foreign guest in this country the best possible care. Which looks something like this:
- Repot freshly bought geraniums, cut away any damage to the roots, and place in a good substrate
- In the warmest location the balcony has to offer
- Full sun, protected against cold wind and rain, cozy microclimate
- Sufficient water, but no permanently moist soil; working drainage holes in the balcony box
- Do not plant too closely because air is the best prevention against fungal growth
- Water enough per watering so that the fleshy leaves and stems can soak up
- Then do not water again until the soil has dried well
- Water in the morning or in the evening if the temperature is high
- If in doubt, it is better to water too little than too much
- The heavy consumers need more nutrients than other balcony plants
- So substrate pre-fertilized with long-term fertilizer or liquid complete fertilizer 1 – 2 x per week
- Be careful with purely mineral fertilizers, which require precise dosing
- Organic fertilizer is processed more slowly and can hardly be overfertilized
- Purely organic fertilization on the balcony is difficult because there is no soil life
- Organic-mineral fertilizer can, however, somewhat buffer incorrect dosages
- The willingness to flower is particularly supported by fertilizers with a high phosphorus content
- Pest infestation must be fought, as harmlessly / biologically as possible
- Incorrect overwintering can spoil the pelargonium’s desire for flowering
- If geraniums that have been overwintered several times no longer want to bloom, it is often simply a matter of old age
- Since rejuvenation is also difficult with pelargonium, only propagation from a cuttings helps here
If the flower does not bloom because of general care mistakes, the whole plant usually looks a bit worn out; poor growth, limp, not exactly lush green leaves, etc. If a strong, lush green geranium refuses to flower without any signs of deficiency, it is mostly uncontrolled pampering with nitrogen fertilizers to blame. In plants this leads to a similar overproduction of cells as uncontrolled pampering with sugar leads to the overproduction of fat cells in humans, only that “fat plants” become fat and round differently: They produce lots of green leaves and stop reproduction.
Geraniums bloom too short
If your geraniums are in bloom, but not as long as intended, the care should also be checked and optimized first. But there can be other reasons behind it:
- Geranium blooms as planned, but the trade has promised more
- There is not much to be done here, early clipping of dead flowers could clear the way for some new flowers
- In the case of geraniums that bloom permanently, the first obligation is to regularly clean out dead flowers before the seeds ripen
- The strength should better go into the post-bloom, for the development of which the plant is bred
- Little branched geraniums cannot grow masses of flowers
- The shoot tips should be cut off as soon as the plants have grown well
- As a result, they branch more abundantly and can also develop more flowers
Sensitive geranium variety, unmistakable diversity
Because around 250 species of the genus Pelargonium were not enough or because all natural species in our climate keep “poking around”, the European flower growers have taken great care of the imported beauties. They started around the middle of the 17th century when the first pelargoniums were captured during the colonization of South Africa and brought to Europe.
Today, six different groups of pelargoniums are of great importance in the flower trade:
- The 2 best-known groups arose in patient selection breeding, which was careful to get used to our climate over many generations of plants:
- In the middle of the 19th century, the crossing of the zonal pelargonium Pelargonium zonale with the scarlet pelargonium Pelargonium inquinans produced the Pelargonium x hortorum
- These zonal hybrids are known as bright red or bright white, upright balcony pelargoniums
- Another typical balcony pelargonium emerged from the ivy pelargonium Pelargonium peltatum by crossing various wild species
- We know these Peltatum hybrids as hanging geraniums z. B. of pictures of cozy inns with balconies overflowing with flowers
- Noble pelargoniums (English geraniums, shelf pelargoniums) are mainly grown from P. cucullatum and Pelargonium grandiflorum hybrids
- In 1930 the fragrant pelargonium P. crispum was crossed into these noble pelargoniums, from which the group of small filigree angel pelargoniums with a citrus scent emerged
- Scented pelargoniums come from P. odoratissimum, their hybrids or cultivated wild species with scent such as P. graveolens
- Unique pelargoniums are a large-flowered subgroup of scented pelargoniums whose origins go back to the 19th century
All of these pelargoniums (hybrids), usually grouped into 6 main groups, were created through intensive breeding across many species. This makes it difficult to understand which species a certain pelargonium consists of and it is difficult to determine whether a breeder has only used pelargonium parents who have proven themselves with us for a long time.
If you come across sellers who primarily want to sell, they may be recommended to you for balconies with noble pelargoniums (which house plants are only suitable if the balcony is built in almost like a room and then only in the warmest summer); or you acquire a completely new variety from the group of Zonale and Peltatum hybrids, but unfortunately (e.g. for a new shade of the flowers) a very sensitive and still very original South African wild species has been crossed. With questions like this you can only get ahead to a limited extent with such sellers, because they often neither know nor distinguish between the many hundreds of varieties.
Given this unbelievable breadth of variation, the best way to secure and long-lasting geranium bloom is to buy from specialist dealers who are passionate about the beautiful flowering plant and who can give precise care tips for every species, variety and hybrid. Such traders also grow their plants outdoors for as long as possible so that you have resistant plants on the balcony later.
Good care helps the geranium on the go or when the flowers spring up; buying the right type of pelargonium from an expert dealer will probably help a little better. If the search for the nursery costs a little time (because more is invested in plants than in advertising), you usually save this time several times over with ongoing plant care. But you can also take your time – such nurseries avoid letting go of the splendid specimens driven forward by the first ray of spring sun on enthusiastic customers (only briefly), but sell plants that have ripened in spring.