Even though we’ve just gotten used to welcoming spring, a savvy gardener is already thinking ahead. It’s important that you begin planning your summer garden now, because if you plant without planning, there are so many things that can go wrong. Of course, we know garden planning can seem intimidating to a new gardener, so we’re here to help you get some summer flowers started. Luckily for you, geraniums are some of the simplest summer flowers to grow, so they are perfect for beginners!
Before we get started, let’s go over a few of the different types of geraniums you can choose from. The geranium family consists of many easy-to-grow types—all they need is full sun (partial shade in afternoon in warmer zones) and fast-draining soil. Below are some of our favourites for summer gardens!
- Garden Geraniums
- Hardy Geranium Rozanne
- Ivy Geraniums
- Scented Leaf Geraniums
- Martha Washington Geraniums
Though these different geranium types look unique from one another, they all pretty much require the same, low-maintenance care.
When to Plant Geraniums
If you’re ready to get started with your summer garden and want to begin planting, the first step is to figure out when the best time is to plant in your region. Planting timelines depend on how warm or cold your climate is seasonally.
Know your garden zone
Garden zone maps exist to help eager gardeners plant the right types of foliage and flora best-suited for their area. For example, you will have a lot less luck planting a tropical plant in Canada because of the vast disparity in the hot, tropical environment the plant is used to and the cold chill of the north. To ensure you plant a garden with the best odds of thriving, find out your garden zone.
Click here for the USDA Plant Hardiness map if you live in the United States. If you live in Europe, this map breaks down the regions according to plant hardiness for your area. Once you figure out what garden zone you are in (it is a number, such as 7), then you can look more closely at the preferred garden zones for certain plants.
Because Geranium Rozanne is quite hardy, this means she has a little more flexibility when it comes to frost. Other plants, such as the tropical Bougainvillea, are much more tender to frost. Geranium Rozanne thrives in garden zones 5-8, but she will also do well in zones 4 and 9 with just a little extra care (learn more about that here).
Since you’re planning your summer garden, you can use your common sense to figure out that a summer flower probably doesn’t like the cold. So, once the chance for frost has passed, you have the green light to begin planting your geraniums. Just remember that geraniums like lots of sun, so keep that in mind when choosing where to plant them.
When to Prune Established Geraniums
As long as you keep your geraniums hydrated (but not drenched) during the hot summer months, you should see lots of lovely blooms and growth. Pruning is simply a process of cutting back the plants to help them grow even more. It also helps clean up unsightly or overzealous plants that get out of control.
The time to prune your geraniums depends on the type of climate you live in. If you live somewhere that geraniums die over winter (called overwintering) and go into dormancy, you don’t have to get out the shears until spring. Then, you can cut any dead leaves and woody, leggy stems to promote new growth.
If your plants stay green in the ground or in containers during winter, then you should prune them in fall, which could be anywhere between August and November, depending on your climate. Basically, just prune them before winter, and cut the plant back by about ⅓ or ½.
You can also choose to pinch your geraniums for more compact, bushy growth. Literally using your fingers to pinch, you just pinch off ¼ to ½ of an inch of a long stem. Doing so will encourage that stem to offshoot two more stems, which, as you can imagine, will result in lots of multiplication the more you do it!
Pruning is just a nice way to keep your geraniums looking their best. Are you ready to plant your geraniums? Consider trying one of these garden planning apps if you’re new to garden planning. Then, be sure to join Rozanne’s Inner Circle for more gardening tips like these!