Geranium and hanging basket lovers have something to celebrate: the ivy geranium gives gardeners the perfect pelargonium specimen to create lush containers, in or out of bloom. Like other plants in the Pelargonium genus, the ivy geranium is free flowering and low maintenance. Plants grow rapidly during the warm spring months, which allows you to fill up large containers or baskets with smaller, less expensive plants that mature fast.
|Botanical Name||Pelargonium peltatum|
|Common Name||Ivy geranium, trailing geranium, ivy-leafed geranium|
|Mature Size||12 to 30 inches|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Moist, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline; 6.5 to 7.5|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer, fall|
|Flower Color||Pink, red, salmon, white|
|Hardiness Zones||USDA zones 9-10|
|Native Area||South Africa|
How to Grow Ivy Geranium
When the greenhouse-grown ivy geranium hanging baskets hit the garden centers in the spring, they can be hard to resist. The cool temperatures and bright sunshine of spring trigger a heavy flush of blooms borne in loose clusters all over the plants. While temperatures stay below 80 degrees F, the plants will continue to experience regular blooming. However, in areas with hot summers, gardeners should seek out one of the newer, heat-resistant varieties of ivy geraniums.
Full sun is necessary for good leaf color and flower production. Partial sun can help plants cope with high summer temperatures, but four to six hours is best for ample blooming.
A loam or sandy loam provides the drainage and root aeration that ivy geraniums need. Having a rich soil is not as important as a loose, draining soil.
Ivy geraniums like regular watering, but not soggy conditions. Allow the surface of the soil to dry out between waterings.
Temperature and Humidity
As a South African native, ivy geranium plants like moderate temperatures in the summer. A heat wave will not kill the plants, but flowering will slow or stop during the dog days of summer. You will know if the temperatures are unhealthily hot for ivy geraniums, as the new leaves may look pale or even white in response to the heat. Average to low humidity is best for thriving ivy geraniums. High humidity can set the stage for fungal diseases.
Ivy geraniums are not heavy feeders, but a light, continuous feeding will increase the bloom count of the plants. A convenient way to provide these nutrients is by planting ivy geraniums in potting soil that is pre-enriched with fertilizer. These potting mixes will feed plants with a slow-release fertilizer for one full growing season.
Potting and Repotting
When handling ivy geranium plants during the potting process, try to hold the plants by the root ball. Although succulent and thick, the brittle stems will snap off easily if you grasp the plant by the stem base, and you could end up losing several stems from breakage.
Propagating Ivy Geranium
It's easy to propagate ivy geranium plants by cuttings, and this will yield plants that are identical to the parents. Take a two to three-inch cutting with scissors you have dipped in alcohol to sterilize. Dip the cutting in a rooting hormone, and place in moist, milled sphagnum moss, which will prevent damping-off disease. Pot up your cutting when new growth appears after about four to six weeks.
Varieties of Ivy Geranium
'Crocodile' ivy geranium plants have unique foliage with white veins. 'Royal Amethyst' has early lilac flowers on heat-resistant plants. 'Temprano Butterfly' is bright pink with a high petal count. 'Mahogany' produces bicolor red and white flowers.
Toxicity of Ivy Geranium
Keep the swaying stems of ivy geranium away from nibbling pets. Ingestion of the plant can cause vomiting. Plant juices may also cause a rash.
When your ivy geranium starts to look leggy, prune it back by about half. This will create a more dense, bushy plant, and will also spur a new flush of blooms. Old plants in frost-free areas can get woody, and may need to be cut back severely in the spring to rejuvenate plants.
Being Grown in Containers
Ivy geraniums look stunning spilling from window boxes or urn planters. The stems have a tendency to break off easily, so site your containers away from high traffic areas where they won't get knocked or brushed by people or animals.
Growing From Seeds
You can grow ivy geraniums from seed, but hybrid plants will not come true from seed. The 'Tornado' series and the 'Summer Showers' series are two cultivars that are offered as seed. For species plants you can collect the fuzzy seeds after the blooms fade. Sow them indoors in January in sterile seed starting mix, and press lightly into the soil. Seeds germinate in about a week at 70 degrees, and will reach flowering size in about three months.
Common Pests and Diseases
Ivy Geranium vs Zonal Geranium
Zonal geraniums have larger, round leaves and an upright habit compared to ivy geraniums. Some zonal geraniums have a dark band on the foliage, which adds to their ornamental quality when not in bloom. Zonal geraniums are sterile, which makes them prolific bloomers, but also means they must be vegetatively propagated, as there are no seeds.