On Gardening

On Gardening: A hot new geranium for you

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceMarch 15, 2013 

LIFE HOME-ONGARDENING MCT

Caliente Hot Rose geranium is new for 2013 offering color that is almost iridescent.

HANDOOUT — MCT

If you have longed for geraniums that will give you a summer-long dazzling performance, you must give the Caliente and Calliope series a try. You may be surprised that I am touting geraniums that are ivy zonal hybrids, but you will not be disappointed.

Gardeners on the West Coast love their geraniums and they grow like weeds there, while the rest of us wait for spring and early summer. Now with Caliente and Calliope, the rest of the country can go toe-to-toe with our Pacific friends.

During trials I participated in, these clobbered the competition. Not only did they do better than other geraniums, they also beat out several other hot summer bloomers. It wasn’t just our trials, but others as well.

Each series has several colors, one of which is sure to fit your palette, but keep your eyes open for the new 2013 selections, which are Caliente Hot Rose and Calliope Rose Splash.

While these geraniums won their recognition grounded in the landscape, they are exquisite in containers where their true habit can really be shown. Remember they have an ivy geranium habit that is somewhat spreading, so in a window box or in a basket they would be simply unbeatable.

But they do excel in the landscape too. Ideal conditions would be full sun followed by a little shade protection during afternoon’s intense heat. They will perform best when planted in raised beds with fertile organic rich soil. To prepare your soil, loosen it 8 to 12 inches deep, add 2 to 3 inches of organic matter incorporating one pound of 12-6-6 fertilizer per 100 square feet, and then rake the soil smooth.

Geraniums are one of the few flowers we grow that are considered heavy feeders. Unfortunately, many gardeners do not apply enough fertilizer to meet their nutrient requirements. Feed them with a dilute, water-soluble fertilizer like a 20-20-20 every two weeks or with a granular, controlled-released fertilizer per formula recommendations. When it is time to deadhead old flowers, don’t just clip the cluster; pinch or break off the flower stalk at the base.

When you shop for plants this year, look for those geraniums that have a little of that ivy habit, and see if they might be Caliente or Calliope. If so, know that you are getting some of the best new flowers in the market.

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