Scented Leaf Pelargoniums for indoors, do NOT like cold, dark, damp conditions....

(October 14, 2011)
Scenteds do make excellent house plants all year around and many will flower continously.  However, where they are given a home is important and they do require light and a pleasant atmospheric temperature, although this doesn't need to be hot it should never be very cold or damp.  Fly pests may also be a problem indoors and there's a few tips given below:

Here’s a checklist which might help:
  • Compost mix should be quite gritty and free draining.  General multi-purpose compost on its own isn’t good enough as the grains stick together and excessive water will not drain from the pots. A fine grit or perlite should be incorporated into good quality m/p compost with added John Innes.
  • Non-draining compost – the wet and sticky compost will basically suffocate the roots and no air will be taken in.  Plants become sickly and weakening, yellowing leaves dropping off, stem rotting, attacked by pests are all ways that the plant is asking for your help!!  Intervention by humans is needed or the plant will die.  If you gently tip a plant out of its pot observe the roots? 
  • Watering – better little and often, even less often at this time of the year (winter months).  A good way of telling if watering is required is by lifting the plant and pot and if it feels very light that is the time to water.  With a little practice this will become second nature and the weight is one of the best guides for all plants in pots, indoors or outdoors.  After watering lift the pot and feel the weight – after a few days lift again and notice the difference.  Scenteds will do very well even when they are quite dry but as you may experience if left to dry out too much the pests will materialise and have a good feed and this will weaken the plant.
  • Watering from below – this is the best method as the plant will take up as much as it needs.  Fill the sink with about 2 inches of tepid water.  Stand the pots in for approx. 5 to 10 minutes – depending on the size.  Lift and put on the draining board for about 20 minutes to let the excess run away.  Alternatively, stand the pots in plant pot saucers but under no circumstances be tempted to overfill with water.  Little and often or occasional!!
  • Pests, i.e. greenfly and whitefly – there isn’t a gardener alive that would be able to tell you where these appear from!!  I can only say that it is part of Nature’s cycle and they are a fact that has to be not only dealt with but lived with.  They are particularly fond of some Scenteds and you do have to monitor the plants closely and deal with them as soon as possible.  If caught early enough you can usually pick them off and squash them.  Greenfly is the easiest to be rid of as you can spot the adults and the eggs underneath the leaves very easy and destroy.  Whitefly is a little trickier as just one hiding in a curled leaf will set the cycle off again.  Correct watering, in my experience, is definitely fundamental to keeping these pests at bay.  There are other things that you can do, such as using insecticides, but I really don’t think these are very effective and they do not offer a definite cure to the problem.
  • Feeding – again very important, how much and at what time of the year?  Inside if the plants are continuing to put new growth on over the winter months I would continue to feed at half strength, perhaps every 2 weeks.  Increase from about February/March onwards.  It does also depend on the size of the plants, i.e. the bigger they are, larger pot, they need more feed.  It’s about observation and getting to know your plants requirements.
  • Pot Size?  Over the past few years I have noticed that one of the biggest problems people have is that they do not move their plants on into a larger sized pot as they gros. This often results in a very constrained and compacted root system which cannot take in the nutriments or water it needs to survive and stay healthy.  The compost turns to a dust like structure and there’s just nothing there for the plant at all.  The pesky flies love these conditions and will soon become readily at home.  I’m repeating what I have already explained above but as soon as a plant begins to feel unhappy the pests have their radar on red alert and they move in before you can say ‘Happy Christmas’!!
  • Taking cuttings – cutting material should only ever be taken from a healthy plant.  They will not take or survive from one that is distressed in any way.

    As like all plants, Scented Geraniums do require looking after although once you get the hang of their requirements they are an easy group. 

Hopefully the tips above will help.

Annie & Guy


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