By: Liz Baessler
Geraniums are beautiful and extremely popular flowering plants that grow well both in the garden and in containers. They’re popular for their bright and sometimes fragrant flowers, but they bring with them the extra bonus of being especially good companion plants. Keep reading to learn more about companion planting with geraniums and what to plant with geranium flowers.
Plants that Grow Next to Geraniums
Companion planting with geraniums is so beneficial because they deter some very common and destructive pests. Geraniums are known to repel earworms, cabbageworms, and Japanese beetles. Because of this, the best companion plants for geraniums are those that are prone to suffering from them, like corn, roses, grapes, and cabbage.
Scented geraniums are also believed to deter spider mites, leafhoppers and cotton aphids, meaning good scented geranium plant companions are almost any vegetable in your garden. Spider mites, in particular, can devastate most vegetable crops in the heat of summer, so most plants will benefit from having geraniums blooming nearby.
Using Geranium Plant Companions
For effective pest control, plant a border of geraniums around your vegetable garden or simply plant them interspersed among the vegetables, especially near plants that have suffered from pests in the past.
Plant them near rose bushes to keep the bugs at bay and to create an attractive floral accent. Even if you’re not looking for pest control, geraniums are stunning in their own right and can be paired effectively with complimentary colors.
Geraniums come in a wide range of colors, and it’s up to you how you’d like to complement them. Chrysanthemums, for example, are a great choice for geranium plant companions if you want a show-stopping bed of big blossoms in lots of hues. Most any annual or perennial sharing similar growing conditions will make an exceptional neighbor to geraniums.
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Read more about Geraniums
Plant Geraniums in Containers
Geraniums do great in containers. Keep the blooms coming with these tips.
Few flowers look as good in a pot as these do. They blend handsome foliage with large clusters of showstopping blossoms in colors of red, pink, rose, salmon, orange, lavender, violet, or white. Although many people use geraniums as bedding plants, we think they perform even better in containers.
Two Main Plants
If you search enough garden centers, you can probably find four or five different types of geraniums. Two, however, account for almost all of the sales. The first and most popular is the common geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum). It's also sometimes called a zonal geranium, because its rounded, velvety, green leaves often contain a burgundy ring.
Most gardeners treat common geraniums as annuals, but in the Coastal and Tropical South where it doesn't freeze, they're perennials. Succulent stems become woody with age, and plants grow into picturesque shrubs. Outside these areas, you must store the plants indoors near a window during winter if you wish to grow them this way.
The second most popular type is the ivy geranium (P. peltatum), named for its glossy green, ivy-shaped leaves. Rather than growing upright like common geraniums, this one cascades. Use it to plunge from hanging baskets, window boxes, or the edge of a big planter.
How To Grow
Geraniums like fertile, well-drained soil that contains plenty of organic matter. Let the soil go slightly dry between waterings. Don't overfertilize: Feed them with slow-release, granular fertilizer once in spring or with a liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer three times during the growing season. Remove faded flowers regularly to keep the plants blooming. The best exposure is full sun in the morning with light afternoon shade.
Good To Know
High summer heat can take its toll on these plants. Many common geraniums stop blooming in sizzling weather, a condition known as "heat check." (They'll resume blooming when cooler weather arrives.) To avoid this, grow heat-tolerant types, such as the Americana, Eclipse, Fidelity, Maverick, and Orbit Series. Ivy geraniums like high heat even less they do better in the Upper and Middle South. However, the heat-tolerant Blizzard, Cascade, and Summer Showers Series perform well in much of the Lower South. So does ‘Sofie Cascade.' In the Coastal and Tropical South, use ivy geraniums as winter annuals.
What they like:
Morning sun, afternoon shade fertile, well-drained soil
"Plant Some Geraniums" is from Southern Living's Container Gardening.
Examples of organic companion planting
When you plant onions around your kitchen garden, it will keep out the rabbits. I guess they don’t like onions, just like Hannie. A friend of ours uses human hair in an old sock to keep out the jabalí (wild boars).
There are many other examples of the way in which plants help each other in organic companion planting. Here are just a few.
Basil and rosemary
Basil and rosemary are fine examples we use in our kitchen garden. It repels aphids, which are a common plague throughout most kitchen gardens. We also have a lot of rosemary in the garden. Rosemary repels carrot flies.
Marigolds are widely known to have a very strong fragrance. Many people consider it unpleasant despite the gorgeous flowers. However, many insects also find marigolds quite distasteful including nematodes (roundworms), whiteflies, beetles, and aphids.
To use marigolds as a companion plant, plant them at the perimeter of your garden. If your garden is large you may want to plant them throughout. Take care to not plant them too close to your vegetables because they do attract spider mites and slugs.
Alfalfa actually helps the soil to absorb nitrogen, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium which makes the soil ideal for growing vegetables. Because alfalfa has very long and sturdy roots, it breaks up hard clay soil. It’s a great plant to help keep your soil rich in nutrients.
Geranium, another flower with a strong aroma, repels cabbage worms and Japanese beetles, and leafhoppers. Gardening experts recommend planting them around grapes, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage.
When you grow 2 rows of leek and onion next to each other, or 2 rows of leek and celery, the leek is protected from leek flies. Of course, you can combine leek, onions, and celery altogether. Leek also combines well with beans, salad, beetroot, tomatoes, and carrots. But not with radish or green peas.