Geraniums are a garden staple, and Martha Washington geraniums are a bold variety loved by many florists. These attractive, trailing plants stand out with their foliage, consisting of bright green, ruffled leaves.
Their most alluring feature is perhaps their unique, velvety, (often) bicolored, and serrated flowers that come in a range of colors, including red, burgundy, pink, lavender, and purple, with white appearing in the mix.
For gardeners considering growing Martha Washington geraniums, it is extremely important to note that these flowers tend to be very finicky, especially when it comes to blooming.
Considering that they require a little more care to flourish and bloom, gardeners planning to plant them may want to know whether they are perennials or annuals so they can plan accordingly.
Well, while most gardeners usually throw out their Martha Washington geraniums when blooming stops, these beautiful plants may live for several years in the right conditions. This post will cover more about Martha Washington geraniums.
About Martha Washington geraniums
Martha Washington geraniums (pelargonium x domesticum) are glamorous flowering plants that cope fairly well under crisp cold conditions and bloom into richly colored flowers.
They are also known as Regal Geraniums or Pansy Geraniums. Although they belong to the Geranium genus, it may be worth noting that they are not “true” geraniums; instead, they are pelargoniums.
Importantly, while regal geraniums are named after the wife of George Washington, the first president of the USA, they are native to North Africa, with a few hybrids hailing from Europe.
Talking about their lifespan, while Martha Washington geraniums are technically annuals, they naturally grow as perennials in the USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 10.
Under the right condition, they can re-bloom and last for around three years. All in all, many gardeners and homeowners grow them as annuals, with many throwing them out immediately after blooming.
Growing Martha Washington geraniums
First and foremost, while you can grow regal geraniums outdoors, they do well indoors. When grown outdoors, they typically flower once and produce fewer flowers.
Whether you are planting your Martha Washington geraniums indoors or outdoors, it is imperative to always remember that they are finicky despite being considered hardy.
Martha Washington geraniums prefer fertile, well-dining soils. If you are planting in containers, it is a good idea to use commercial rich, all-purpose potting soils optimized for use in planters as they provide ideal drainage for plants in containers.
Further, the containers need to have drainage holes to keep the soil from retaining a lot of moisture. For outdoor planting, amend the soil with a generous amount of organic matter before planting.
Precisely, regal geraniums are highly susceptible to root rot, meaning they won’t survive in soggy soil.
Unlike other geranium varieties, regal varieties aren’t fans of extremely hot weather but require bright light to bloom. They are not as drought-tolerant, so they need to be watered to keep the soil moderately moist, not wet.
Throughout the growing season, you will need to feed your regal geranium plants with a liquid fertilizer, preferably bi-weekly. For Martha Washington geraniums, a fertilizer rich in phosphorus is best.
Avoid fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content as it will promote growth rather than blooming.
Martha Washington geraniums grow best in daytime temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and about 10 degrees cooler at night. The general rule of the thumb is to ensure that your regal geraniums get at least six hours of sunlight (not direct sun) a day. Without enough light, the foliage will likely droop and wilt.
In ideal conditions, regal geraniums will grow roughly 12-18 inches tall and 12-24 inches wide. They set their flower buds when the nighttime temperatures are within the 45 to 60 range.
Importantly, regal geraniums are notoriously fussy, typically blooming for only a few weeks under normal home temperatures. They will likely stop flowering when summer rolls out, but a little more care can keep them blooming throughout summer.
Encouraging regal geranium to rebloom
While Martha Washington geraniums are technically annuals, they can ornament your spaces for some years with a little care. That said, you can get the plant to rebloom by providing it with a resting period under low nighttime temperatures.
When your regal geraniums stop flowering, cut them down to about 4 inches and report them into clean containers filled with well-draining potting soil.
Next, move the plant to any spot, say the garage, where night temperatures are consistently between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit and protected from direct sun. Allow the trees to rest for about 2 months as you water them to prevent wilting.
After the resting period, move your plants to a spot that meets ideal growing requirements and start feeding them, hoping they will bloom again in spring.
Are Martha Washington Geraniums Perennials? Conclusion
Martha Washington geraniums are technically annuals. They can thrive in the right climate without much care.
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