Red, white, and bloom – create a 4th of July planter

I want to create an impromptu planter for the Fourth of July. Oh, I know, I should have done this weeks ago, but I didn’t. So, it’s red geraniums to the rescue.

Most everyone knows I love geraniums, and I plant them every year, but recently I have been on a pink kick, so I will start from scratch for this planter.

The geraniums found in garden centers are not really geraniums. In the 1700s, a traveler brought a plant from South Africa to Sweden. Because it resembled a plant already growing in Europe, it was grouped with the Geranium family. Its actual identity is Pelargonium, but it is commonly known as geraniums: the mix-up was later corrected but the name stuck.

Geranium blooms are red, orange, pink, or white. They can also be found in salmon, lilac, or bi-color petals. They are single and double-bloom flowers. This indicated rows of petals found on a flower. The leaves are scalloped and have bronze or purple veining.

When shopping for plants, Zonal and Ivy geraniums are quite common. Zonals are what I use. They can stand alone in a container or play nice and share space with other plants in a shared space. Ivy geraniums will trail and can be lovely in a hanging basket.

There is a hardy geranium, sometimes called Cranesbill. It is a perennial, just like the Roxanne geranium. Both varieties are beautiful, but don’t really resemble the common geraniums used in planter boxes.

Geraniums need full sun to bloom. As the flower begins to fade deadheading the plant will give it energy to keep blooming until the first frost.

If you planted geraniums in the soil as bedding plants, mulching the beds will help keep the roots cool. If planted in a container, let the soil dry before the next watering. These plants don’t like wet feet.

Monthly fertilizing is a good idea because these plants produce blooms from summer until frost. This will give the plant extra nutrients and energy to keep the continuous blooming schedule.

I treat geraniums as annuals. I do not bring them inside during the winter months; others do. If you are up for the challenge, place the container in a sunny window and limit the watering. Find a balance between enough water to keep them alive and not soaking the soil. The plant may go dormant and not produce blooms during the winter but will perk up when moved outside after the last spring frost.

Want to try to propagate our geranium? Make a stem cut above a node, then on the new cutting stem, make a new cut below a node. Recap, cut above the node when removing the stem from the main plant and cut below the node on the new cutting stem. Then place it in a container of loose potting soil and water. It should root in a few weeks.

Back to my holiday design. I have a new blue and white pot, and I plan to add red geraniums, creating the traditional Fourth of July color combo. This could also be done with white geraniums and red and bluish petunias. Be creative and open-minded when you visit the plant nursery. You may find blue salvia and red roses.

Remember to keep in mind that all plants will need the same growing environment – sunny and dryish soil.

Consider the size of your container and let your imagination go wild. After all, this is a holiday celebrating independence. Show yours by creating your own container design that adds a “bang” to summer landscapes.