Bulbs to plant in autumn for spring flowers
With more than 300 varieties in Australia, there's a geranium to suit any garden with a great range of colours, shapes and styles. Most geraniums are low spreading plants, with hairy, hand-shaped leaves. In spring, they bloom into colours ranging from red, white, pink, salmon to dark purple and even black.
Geraniums need at least six hours of sun each day, but also like being shaded from temperatures over 30 degrees. The best spot for them is in a well-drained garden bed. They also grow well in pots or in hanging baskets. Choose a potting mix, with equal amounts soil, peat moss and perlite and they will thrive.
Pruning geraniums will help to promote new growth and allow them to thicken up. Cut them back by a third in March or April for an impressive spring bloom.
It can be hard to tell if geraniums need water as their leaves won't wilt like other plants. Geraniums like moist soil but it's also important to let the soil dry out between watering.
When watering geraniums, you should avoid getting their foliage wet. This can lead to pests or diseases such as fungal spores. Consider installing a drip irrigation system or make sure that you water the plant's base. Overwatering can also lead to root rot in geraniums. The foliage will turn yellow, wilt and die. Cut away affected roots and add a soil heavy in perlite and peat moss to improve the drainage.
Healthy geraniums need regular fertilising. The best fertilisers are either a controlled-release fertiliser when planting or a water-soluble fertiliser every third time you water for a healthy plant.
Geraniums are prone to a variety of diseases and pests that can harm their growth. Rust is a fungal disease that causes yellow, raised, powdery spots on the leaves. Spray affected leaves with fungicide for a quick and easy solution.
Budworms can tunnel into unopened buds and eat them from the inside. If your flowers are riddled with small holes, remove any affected buds before the whole plant is infected.
Geraniums are easy to propagate and grow from cuttings. Make your cuttings about 12cm long and remove any of the leaves from the bottom. A good tip is to let the cutting dry out for 12–24 hours, which will help to prevent root rot. Then dip the bottom of the cutting in a rooting hormone and place it in a pot full of potting mix and give it a good water. You can also help it out by putting a plastic bag over the plant and pot, which will act like a greenhouse and keep the humidity in.
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Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
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