How do I care for garden geraniums?

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How do I care for garden geraniums?

Answer: 

Garden geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) are attractive flowering plants for beds, borders, containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes.  Geraniums are easy to grow and provide color in the garden from May to frost.  Flowers are available in red, pink, salmon, orange, white, lavender, and bi-colors.  Several fancy-leaf geraniums possess silver, white, gold, red, or purple markings on their leaves. 

Geraniums should be planted outdoors when the danger of frost is past.  Generally, mid-May is a safe planting time for geraniums in central Iowa.  Geraniums perform best in fertile, well-drained soils in full sun.  Plants will grow in partial shade, but will not bloom well.  For optimum flowering, geraniums should receive at least 6 hours of direct sun.  Geraniums also respond well to applications of fertilizer.  Prior to planting, apply and incorporate 1 to 2 pounds of an all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, per 100 square feet of garden area.  Geraniums growing in containers should be fertilized approximately every 2 weeks with a dilute fertilizer solution.  During dry periods, a deep soaking once a week is sufficient for plants in beds and borders.  Plants in containers will require more frequent watering.  Water geraniums in containers when the soil surface becomes dry to the touch.  If possible, avoid overhead watering as wet foliage encourages disease development.  To keep plants blooming through the growing season, remove spent flowers on a regular basis.  Deadheading prevents seed development and encourages plants to produce additional blooms.  It also improves plant appearance. 

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