Treating the geraniums

Treating the geraniums

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It doesn't stealby Filippo Figuera (Vivaio Malvarosa)

It doesn't steal. Be clear, don't steal! Enough of the bad habit of taking over things that do not belong to us. Shame! With the Pelargoniums it is always like this: "Look how nice ... pull over a moment that I take off a stick ...". But does it seem right? Everyone knows that the Pelargoniums "take" easily and then ... the step is easy and it takes little. A quick gesture and away, holding a small piece of branch, a green fragment that must be placed to root as soon as possible, before it loses its turgor, its vitality.
Of course, we need to make the right distinctions! It takes sensitivity to understand when the time comes to break certain rules that must be respected in their general lines, but without unnecessary formalism or fundamentalism! For example, the commandment to "not steal" sometimes clashes with the urgency to save from extinction or from existence in the shadow of the plants, of the amazingly interesting varieties that have fallen like in the wrong hands.

The exceptions

Days ago a top of a Pelargonium stellar accidentally detached from the plant just at the moment when my hand passed those parts. The plant belonged to a gentleman who had not (and would never have noticed) the existence of an interesting mutation. Perhaps the plant will suffer drastic pruning or will be killed by neglect, but that taleuzza is safe. A branch that had taken on forms never seen before will perhaps be the forefather of a new variety. Let's say that the unpleasant incident of the detached peak will help to recover something that would have been lost, will serve to enrich the whole humanity (and therefore also the owner of the mother plant!) Of a new cultivar. How many times these things happen! How many times we are forced to "steal" for a good purpose. Every gardener, every nurseryman would have stories and stories to tell. But better let it go. Better to tell us about purchases or exchanges of plants, seeds or cuttings.


It's April. The time of purchases, of fairs, of picnics. We nurserymen get into fibrillation, we dive into the period of more intense activity. Deliveries, contacts, phone calls, trips. Always running until late in the evening. Green fairs start where you can meet collectors nurserymen. This is a strange category of people who have traits in common with all the other nurserymen, but which almost seem to keep us looking different. Some of them are in fact loaned to the nursery by other trades: teachers, professionals, perhaps retired or who wanted to change their lives. They have taken on different connotations, they have taken off "civilian" clothes to wear peasant clothes. In spring they come out of their greenhouses and go around Italy with pickup trucks, vans, campers, cars with trailers. I also used to bring my plants with the camper the first few times. 500 Pelargonium and three passengers crammed to capacity. Then the fair: an umbrella, two chairs in a corner of a square or a park and for two or three days that is our home. Thus the Italy of the medieval walls, of the historic houses, of the ancient palaces in spring comes alive, is colored with flowers. I advise readers to look at the dates of spring appointments on gardening sites and magazines. These are intense and exciting days for us exhibitors. We jump up and down among the plants, we talk to more customers at the same time, and then ... tips, jokes, exchange of addresses. And while there is good weather, well. Sometimes it rains. At other times it is windy. In these green fairs you can find oddities and rarities, usually presented with competence and passion by their producers. Even for us nurserymen the occasion is greedy. Each has its own collections, but don't mind letting go of "incursions" in different areas. Or we trade plants of the same kind. I find almost always new Pelargonium. Or among the succulent plants or among the odorous ones or among those for dry gardens. When I meet another Pelargonium collector I could spend days talking and exchanging plants.


On the stalls of the Pelargonium collectors there is always a book that has become a primary reference point for all the fans: "Gerani", by Adriana Vitali, Edagricole, series The Green Gems. It has recently been reprinted. One should be proud that a text so complete, clear, well done is published in Italy. Anyone who wants to get to know Pelargonium can only go through the reading of the book by Vitali, exciting not only for experienced gardeners but also for novice garden readers. The author enriches the text with descriptions and explanations that originate from her concrete experience, referring to episodes and facts of her daily life. Sometimes revealing their tricks and useful tricks to have Pelargonium always beautiful and healthy. Moreover, all of us have found, over time, personal solutions to the small problems of our plants. Why not put them in common?

Treating the geraniums: THE APICAL FOAMS

In this season we often find ourselves with geranium plants that in the winter months have taken on an imperfect or even unpleasant shape. How to cure geraniums? The long branches of the geraniums that still in autumn were fleshy, turgid and covered with leaves have gradually been stripped and today they appear woody and withered. The knots, where the leaves were attached a few months before, seem to have been reduced to simple branch swellings. If it weren't for the presence of a few leaves on the top, we would say that the branch is dead. It is important to know how to cure geraniums in order to grow them at their best.
Meanwhile, spring is there. The days are always longer and hot but nothing happens. Indeed it seems that over time the long woody branches become longer and longer, woody and bare. What to do to cure geraniums?
We often do not feel like taking risks with a strong and risky pruning for geraniums.
Some time ago I came across a zonal Pelargonium of the Mr Wren variety, with a red and white flower. The map was now made up of a single long branch and the choice to prune it was out of the question. The dominance of the apex must be contrasted with the elimination of the apex itself. So I pulled the apex off. Looking at the plant it seemed that nothing had changed. But a few millimeters of matter had disappeared up to the top. Soon the transformation began, thanks also to appropriate fertilizations. Within a few weeks small green dots have appeared all along the branch. The absence of the apex and the hormonal substances produced by it has allowed many small gems to emerge ... almost from nothing.
Mr Wren is a zonal Pelargonium. The Pelargoniums zonali are a vast, vast universe, often it is difficult to distinguish the single varieties. Of course when you are in front of a zonal it is always clear: the soft, hairy leaf, often with a marked zoning, the erect habit ... but the variety is not easy to recognize. In some cases they help the flowers: double, semi-double or simple, and above all their color. Mr Wren is a Pelargonium apparently similar to all others, common in foliage and size, but is unique to the flower. When I found it in a nursery, among plants of various kinds, I immediately noticed it, recognized it and ... bought it.
Even that nurseryman before I bought it, precisely because he had been struck by the flower: it looks like that of a white Pelargonium, with a large red brushstroke in the center of each petal which leaves a slightly streaked white border.