Characteristics of the zonal geranium
Pelargonium is a plant of South African origin, of the botanical family of the Geraniaceae, very widespread in our country and includes about 250 species. The zonal geranium (scientific name: Pelargonium zonale) is so called because of the dark area present in the center of the petals, similar to a stain with shades. The flower can grow on windowsills and balconies, as long as the place is ventilated and sunny, in fact it is more frequent in the South. The plant has a bushy habit and can even exceed one meter in height. It begins to bloom in March-April and continues until the end of October. The leaves are opposite, velvety and lobed. The flowers have 5 petals, of which 2 are erect and 3 are curved down. The colors are variable and range from white to intermediate shades of pink, red and salmon.
Cultivation: exposure and temperature
The plant of zonal geranium it must be kept in an external, bright and not very humid place, and withdrawn indoors only in winter, in the presence of intense cold. It will be advisable to resort to shading from spring onwards, on very hot days, in order to prevent the leaves from wilting, then causing irregular growth. During the day, however, the shading will not be continuous but limited to the hottest hours because the excess delays flowering. In autumn and winter, however, there is no need for shade. The substrate should be well drained, consisting of one part of peat and two parts of earth. At the beginning, the temperature will have to be between 16 and 18 degrees. From January, to stimulate the buds, it will have to go down to 8-10 ° C for a month and then return to around 15-16 degrees.
Zonal geraniums - Red zonal geranium">Fertilization and watering of zonal geraniums
It is advisable to start with a lightly fertilized soil and then gradually increase during the growth of the plant, after about a month. Fertilization, performed every two weeks, must be stopped before flowering begins. It will be advisable to use a liquid fertilizer for better absorption, balanced between nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Care should be taken to moisten the substrate before providing fertilizer to avoid burning the roots. As for watering, carried out with slightly calcareous water, water stagnation must be avoided but always the right humidity of the soil must be maintained. The plant should preferably be bathed in the evening because the sun could quickly evaporate the water. Do not wet the flowers and leaves to avoid the attack of fungal diseases and not to burn them (if watering was done during the day).
Zonal geranium: Pruning and diseases
In order for the zonal geranium remains healthy and has adequate growth, regular cleaning and pruning must be performed. Withered flowers must be removed, as well as dried leaves and all damaged and diseased parts. To favor branching and opening of the buds, it is necessary to top off the apex of the branches. Geranium can be prone to diseases including leaf rot. In this case, these must be immediately removed and watering reduced. The underside of the leaves can be affected by rust, which manifests itself as reddish spots. In this case it is good to use a fungicide product. If the gray mold attacks the leaves of the geranium, it must be fought with specific pesticides. Another incurable disease is virosis which reveals itself as light, mosaic patches. It can only be prevented with products against parasites that can carry the virus.