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May's plant of the month is the pelargonium

29 April 2014
May's plant of the month is the pelargonium

May's plant of the month is the pelargonium, the nation's favourite bedding plant. These sturdy, brilliantly-coloured stalwarts of hanging baskets everywhere soldier on right through summer: they're very drought tolerant and need only dead-heading regularly to keep the display coming till the first frosts.

You'll find all the ingredients for a really striking display at your local garden centre. Richly-coloured burgundy geraniums like 'Lord Bute' or 'Aristo Black Beauty', for example, go beautifully with glowing red arctotis or gazanias: underplant with trailing purple verbena or lobelia for the perfect finishing touch.

Pelargoniums need a sunny spot to perform at their best, plus regular watering (though not too much: the compost should be damp but never wet). A capful of liquid tomato feed added to the watering can weekly encourages the flowers to keep coming.

If you have a frost-free greenhouse or spare room, keep your favourite pelargoniums year after year by repotting them into a container just slightly bigger than the rootball and cutting them right back by about two-thirds. Water very sparingly, only when the compost is almost completely dry, and remove dead leaves and stems regularly. Once spring comes, start watering normally to bring them back into growth, and they'll be flowering again by summer.