Geraniums Rising from the Dead


“I HAVE GROWN GERANIUMS FROM SEED THAT HAVE STARTED GROWING NEW GROWTH AT THE BASE OF THE OLD, NOW DEAD BLOOM BASE, THIS DEFIES ALL RULES OF MOTHER NATURE AND I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT BEFORE. I AM WONDERING IF THIS IS SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE SEEN. THE NEW GROWTH SEEMS TO BE VERY HEALTHY THUS FAR. I THINK THE GERANIUM ARE THE PINK ORBIT . I WOULD SEND A PHOTO IF I HAD A BETTER EMAIL ADDRESS. I APPRECIATE ANY INFO YOU MAY HAVE.

-J”

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Hi J.,

Thank you for your question on your regrowing geraniums (Pelargonium sp.).

While it does seem to defy logic, this is a common trait of geraniums.  Geraniums are what are considered ‘half-hardy’ or ‘tender’ perennials.  This means that in warmer climates, they can grow as a perennial.  For those in the northern states, they grow as annuals.

Geraniums like moister conditions while growing.  When they dry out too much, they will have their foliage die back.  At first you will have leaves that will start to yellow and that will break off easily at the base of the petiole (the stem-like structure that connects the leaf to the stem).  Sometimes you will even have it where you have a stem that will begin to die an inch or two above the surface of the soil.  The shoot above this point may eventually abscises (foliar detachment) at the first node (area where a bud or leaf comes off the stem) and dies.

However, the roots are still alive below this.  As with any perennial, the root is fleshier and has stored sugars that will proved the initiation of new shoots at the base of the plant.  In addition to this, the stem is also succulent-like.  These two factors combine to allow for regeneration after environmentally- or human-induced dormancy.

On a related note, this is also why you can overwinter your geraniums.

From my experiences with geraniums, I have found that the ‘normal’ geraniums do seem to come back a bit better. They seem to be a bit weaker looking than if you had a geranium seedling, but this can be overcome by using a light water soluble fertilizer.

It also seems to work with other types of geranium too.  I had two ivy leafed geraniums do the same in the past and pampered them back to health.  I’ve never had any luck with bringing back the Martha Washington types, but I think that the two I lost were because of a viral or fungal pathogen that was affecting the conductive tissues and not a dieback that could be overcome.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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