container gardens
Geraniums Galore

easily like a snap bean. Woody growth is hard to root and succulent tips tend to rot. Before planting, spread out cuttings in a shady place for several hours so leaves will lose excess moisture.

Rooting Cuttings

   When ready to plant, cut off the lower leaves, allowing but two or three to each cutting. Also pull off the little wings on the stem, since they are inclined to rot. Dip stem ends in hydrated lime to prevent decay and then insert, about halfway, in a flat or large pot of pure sand or a mixture of sand and peatmoss. With geraniums, rooting powders are hardly necessary. When cuttings develop inch-long roots, they are ready for spacing out in another flat or for separate planting in 21/2-inch pots. Fill with a mixture of three parts sandy loam and one part peatmoss or leafmold. After planting, keep in the shade for the first few days, and bring indoors before cold weather.

   When the separated cuttings have developed strong root systems, shift to 31/2- or 4-inch pots. Use the same potting mixture as before, with bonemeal added. Later, as established plants begin to grow, feed periodically with a high phosphorous fertilizer, as 5-10-5 or 4-12-8.

   To keep plants bushy and to encourage branching, pinch while small, starting when they are three to four inches high. Provide sunny windows, and keep turning pots to prevent lopsided growth. Water regularly, but allow soil to dry out just a little between applications. Above all, do not permit pots to stand in water, but set them on pebbles spread out in the saucers. Best growing temperatures are 60 to 70 degrees F. by day, no higher, with a ten degree drop at night, though this is not always possible in the average home.

   If you wish, you can hold onto your original plants and winter them indoors. Cut back tops to 6 or 8 inches, and if containers are not too enormous, place them in a sunny house or a well-lighted cellar window. The important thing in winter is to grow old plants cool, at about 50 degrees F., and to water sparingly to encourage rest.

   Plants may also be wintered in cool cellars with little light. Remember only that the less light, the cooler the temperatures should be. This is because too much warmth and insufficient light cause lanky growth that undermines vigor.

   In late winter or early spring, if old plants are growing in strong light, take cuttings for young plants to use outdoors, rooting by the method described. Or if you prefer, when weather permits, cut back your old plants, repot them in fresh soil and set outdoors.