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Volume xviii, Issue 5 ~ February 4 - February 10, 2010

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The Bay Gardener

by Dr. Frank Gouin

A Flower for All Seasons

Get your indoor geraniums ready to bloom

How have your geraniums been doing since you brought them in to overwinter?

Better if you have them in direct sunlight — they like lots of it — cool temperatures and weekly watering.

The biggest problem most home gardeners have with geraniums is overwatering. Allow the rooting medium to become dry to the touch before you water. Then water well so that the entire root ball becomes saturated. Geraniums respond best to wet-and-dry conditions.

Flowering is directly related to the amount of direct sunlight they receive. The more sunlight, the more flowers and the larger the flower clusters.

Fertilizer also affects flowering. If you fertilize your geraniums with too much nitrogen, they will produce more vegetative growth and fewer flowers. To produce a large plant in a hurry, commercial growers frequently fertilize geraniums with a 25-10-10 fertilizer. About a month before sales time, they switch to a 10-30-20 fertilizer to stimulate flower bud production.

You can simulate these results with a lawn fertilizer such as 10-6-4 at the rate of a monthly teaspoonful per six-inch pot from now until April. Then switch to a monthly teaspoon of 5-10-5 garden fertilizer per six-inch pot. By reducing the amount of nitrogen, which is the first number, and increasing the phosphorus, which is the middle number, you will stimulate flowering.

Once the plants have started flowering, switch to a water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer or fish emulsion on a monthly basis. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as to dilution rate.

During the summer growing season, water infrequently, but water well. For the geraniums growing in my planter boxes, irrigating well once weekly is adequate. Do not allow the plants to wilt before watering or you’ll significantly reduce flowering.

Ask the Bay Gardener

Can I Grow Pomegranates In Maryland?

Q I’m considering planting a cold-hardy Russian pomegranate in Talbot County, but not if it’s a futile effort. Do you know of any pomegranates that actually fruit in Maryland?

P.S. I Took your horticultural course years ago in College Park.

–Steve Hamblin, hambone@goeaston.net

A There are ornamental pomegranates. The fruit is tasteless and pulpy, but the flower is pretty.


Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.


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