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The geranium, which is so commonly called other than that is the Pelargonium, a genus belonging to the Geraniaceae family, the same of which the other similar genus of the Geranium is part. The name Pelargonium was given to the botanical group that it is just two centuries ago, when the plant was already known and diffused with the other more common name of geranium, name deriving from the Greek meaning "beak of crane", to designate the particular form of the fruit.
Originally from South Africa, this kind of plant was imported into Europe by Dutch merchants who traded with the East Indies and who stopped at the Cape of Good Hope to supply themselves. Its introduction in Italy is instead due to a Venetian nobleman. Due to its characteristics of resistance to drought and ease of propagation, this type of plant has attracted the attention of many botanical enthusiasts since the 18th century, who over the years have given rise to many new varieties, so that today there are thousands of them.
The genus of the Pelargoni geraniums includes a large number of perennial suffruttive plants that can be classified into four main species:
The Pelargonium zonale or common geraniums, with bushy course and with corrugated and green leaves, hairy and heart-shaped characterized by a dark ring. The zonal variety includes numerous hybrids that produce almost year-round flowers variously colored in shades that vary from white to red to pink and that sprout gathered in umbrellas on long stems;
The Pelargonium peltatum or ivy geraniums, with glossy and fleshy peltate leaves and hanging stems, whose characteristic is that of having a herbaceous stem with very long and thin internodes and a habit that reminds of ivy (hence the name). A very particular variety belonging to this species is made up of "mini ivy" geraniums, known as "Parisian geraniums", characterized by leaves with white-yellowish streaks;
the odorous Pelargonium or fragrant geraniums, with small jagged leaves that have the particularity of emanating, depending on the varieties, particular aromas of rose, apple or lemon, used for the extraction of terpenes widely used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry to make the well-known essential oils;
the Pelargonium grandiflorum or imperial geranium, with less thick and erect stems than the zonal geraniums. The leaves are lobed and incised while the flowers, colored with lilac, red, pink or white, are very characteristic, as they have patches of increasingly darker color, usually purple-red, than the general one of the flower.
Being a plant quite resistant to high temperatures, it grows in an optimal way in a sunny position and in well-ventilated environments, even if it lives quite well even in partial shade.
Despite its easy adaptability, however, it is necessary to dedicate the plant its own treatments so that it will delight us with its blooms for most of the year.
First of all, it is important to never miss regular watering, without wetting the leaves, throughout the breeding season, both in spring for three days a week depending on the local climatic conditions, and in the summer, even every day. However it is advisable not to exceed, since too much water could bring rottenness to the plant. In autumn and winter, on the other hand, it is essential to reduce watering to the minimum necessary to prevent the soil from drying completely.
Geranium pelargonium: Repotting and fertilizing
The repotting of geraniums should be done every year in spring with a compound soil consisting of peat and clayey soil, taking care not to use pots too large to prevent the plant's root system from developing too much at the expense of the aerial part and cutting the roots are longer and thicker with well cleaned and disinfected scissors. Instead, fertilization is necessary to obtain a splendid flowering, to be carried out starting from April until September every two weeks or so with liquid fertilizers administered in the irrigation water. In this period of time to favor a more luxuriant flowering it is essential that the higher doses of fertilizer are given by potassium, in association with other elements such as iron, manganese and zinc. In the remaining period of the year it is sufficient to fertilize once a month.
Finally, you must not forget to remove the flowers as they wither and the dried and discolored leaves by cutting them with scissors at about one cm from the stem so as not to leave open wounds in it and thus avoid possible parasitic attacks.