"Welcome to my greenhouse, the place where C.Atherley started out. You can follow my monthly diary here as I share any tips and tales as the seasons unfold. Advice always welcome!" - Cath


A Little Guide to Growing and Caring for Your Plants.

When To Buy & Cultivate

Order plug plants from specialist nurseries over the winter and they will be delivered around Easter time. It’s worth ordering them early as favourite varieties tend to run out. As soon as you receive your plants remove all packaging apart from the biodegradable pot.

Use a pot with good drainage that is approx 12cm diameter to begin with. Plant them up in multi-purpose compost with good drainage and water well.

Start them in a protected shady site while they recover from their journey. Once they have settled in, move them to a sunny frost-free place. Once your plant is established it can be re-potted to a larger sized pot, but not too big as they like their roots contained.

Once the frosts are over, they like being outside in a sunny place, away from very hot sunlight in midsummer. They also grow well in outdoor containers but need to be dug up or protected from frost in winter.

Tips on Soil Mix
Geraniums need good drainage and it’s worth adding a mix of coconut coir or perlite to potting compost. Make sure pots have holes in the base and you can add small stones or broken pieces of pot at the bottom to encourage drainage.
Pinching Out
When your plants have put out new growth, pinching out is a way of stopping them from getting straggly and encouraging the plant to fill out. Cut just above a leaf joint to remove the top shoots. The plant will then put out new shoots from the point where you have cut.
Water them with a good soak only when they have nearly dried out, probably about once a week but more often in the summer. Try to water directly onto the soil and not onto the leaves which can cause disease.
Be careful not to over water. They don’t like wet feet and a warning sign is the leaves will turn yellow. If they are over watered the roots also tend to rot.
About once a month give them a good dose of seaweed or high potash tomato feed. This can be more frequent in high summer.
Remove any discoloured leaves and deadhead your plants regularly. Each variety of pelargoniums have different growing habits. If they form tall shoots prune them to encourage the plants to bush out.
Pest Control
Keep your plants well ventilated to protect them from disease. If they do become prone to white fly rinse them with a light dose of soapy water. Spider mite can be a problem which you can deal with by purchasing spider mite bags to hang on your plant, which are natural and eco-friendly.
Taking Cuttings
It’s easy to take cuttings from these plants and a great way to grow a collection. Use sharp secateurs to nip a sprig just above a leaf joint. The cutting should be about 3-4 inches long and shouldn’t have any flowers. Then trim the base of the sprig’s stem to just below a leaf joint.
Take off any leaves towards the base of stem so that only a few leaves remain at the top of the cutting. Make sure your cutting doesn’t dry out by placing it in water. Then dip the base of the stem in rooting powder before planting in compost. Plant the bottom half of the stem into compost, press down lightly and water thoroughly.
Make sure to use a pot which isn’t too big as geraniums don’t like to be over potted. Propagate on a warm, light window sill and protect from strong sunlight. Once your cutting has put out new growth, pinch out the top shoots to encourage the plant to fill out.
Wintering Your Plants
Plants will survive in winter on a window sill or in a warm greenhouse. They will need as much light and sunshine as possible. Cut them back by half at this time of year and remove any old foliage or damaged stems.
As they are tender and don’t like frost, they are at risk left outdoors. If you don’t have space to bring your plants in, take cuttings from them in the autumn which take up little space and will be ready for the next year.

Make sure you keep your plants quite dry in winter as the wet can rot the roots. Some people dig up their plants and store them bare rooted like dahlias, hanging in a dark room. They can be replanted in the spring, some but not all will survive.

Once the last frost is over move your plants outside. Prune any dead branches and cut them back into tight shapes for the growing season ahead. Repot where they are root bound and give them a good feed and water.

Scented leaf geraniums are a group of the species known as pelargoniums. They are celebrated for the beautiful scent their leaves release when they are touched.