Ivy Geranium is botanically known as the Pelargonium peltatum. It also goes by a few other names including trailing geranium and ivy-leafed geranium.
This perennials is member of the Geraniaceae family.
Before I go any further, I’d like to clarify the difference between Pelargonium and Geranium. This is a question that has come up a few times as it’s easy to confuse Pelargonium species for Geraniums, since both carry the same common names.
However, the two are completely different genera, albeit falling under the same family Geraniaceae.
- Geraniums is a genus that has 422 different plants consisting of annuals, biennials and perennials. These are also often referred to as cranesbills,
- Pelargonium is another separate genus. This time with 228 different species including shrubs, perennials and succulents. They’re often called storksbills, pelargoniums or geraniums.
More importantly, you can distinguish them by looking at their flowers. Both contain 5 petals each, but:
- Pelargonium have 2 upper petals that look alike. But, they’re different from the 3 lower petals. Also, Pelargonium are not winter hardy. Instead, they prefer warmer conditions similar to other tropical plants.
- Geraniums have 5 petals that all look similar. This makes their flowers look more uniform (symmetric). Also, Geraniums are winter hardy, as such the term “hardy geraniums” is often used to describe them.
That said, the Ivy Geranium belongs to the Pelargonium genus. So, it prefers living in USDA Hardiness zones 9 to 11 where the weather is warm and humid.
The plant itself is fast growing and produces long lasting (May to October) blooms with bright colors. This makes it perfect for hanging baskets and containers.
You can choose from a number of varieties which carry different hues including red, salmon, pink and white just to name a few.
However, it is worth noting that they are not of often seen as zonal geraniums which are the very popular here in the U.S.
Ivy Geranium Plant Care
Ivy Geranium Light Requirements
Ivy Geranium love plenty of natural light. To get the most out of their blooms, you want to keep them under full sun. This will allow them to produce their best colors and flowering.
But, you also want to be wary about too much bright light or overly intense sun like during the peak of summer and afternoons.
During these periods, your Ivy Geranium will prefer partial sun, some shade or filtered light depending on whether it is indoors or outside. The important thing it to protect it from too much sun.
That said, you want to maintain some balance.
That’s because lack of bright light in shaded areas will limit its blooming potential. So, you want to give it at least 6 hours of light in these situations.
With your Ivy Geranium, temperature is very closely related to light. That’s because the plant prefers moderate rather than overly warm conditions.
This means that when the temperature is under 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it will be happiest with full sun. But, in hotter conditions, it is better off with some kind of protection or shade.
This is crucial since too much light, be it brightness, heat or intensity, will result in smaller leaves and flowers. That’s not something you want when you have blooms as lovely as these.
The plant is hardy to USDA zones 9 and 10. As such, if you live in these areas, you can grow it outside as the temperature is cool enough to allow it to bloom heavily.
To maintain regular blooming, you want to keep climate below 80 degrees. If you live in an area where it can get hotter in the summertime, I highly suggest opting for some of the more heat-resistant Ivy Geranium varieties.
This will allow them to do well even when the weather gets hot.
Otherwise, while most Ivy Geranium can survive heat waves, their flowering will slow or stop when things get hot.
A good way to tell is to check its leaves, they will become pale or turn whitish if the heat becomes too much for them.
Indoors, an eastern exposure is ideal. This gives it a lot of light in the morning that’s gentle enough not to negatively affect its growth.
The same is true for humidity. Unlike many houseplants, your Ivy Geranium prefers low to average humidity. This will allow it to grow.
In contrast, high humidity will increase the risk of fungal problems due the added moisture.
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How Often to Water Ivy Geranium
Ivy Geranium thrive with regular watering. as such, they prefer soil to be moist. Although, be careful not to overdo it. Soggy or wet soil is not good for most plants.
And, the same is true for your ivy geranium.
Overwatering can lead to root rot. You’ll also see its leaves turn yellow.
Additionally, too much water also causes edema (or bloating). This can lead to its plant’s cells getting ruptured.
When this happens, you’ll see blemishes on the underside of the leaves. Just as importantly, this weakens the plant making it vulnerable to pests and diseases.
As such, watering is one of the most important aspects to consider when caring for your Ivy Geranium.
It is essential that you water regularly to keep soil moist. But, avoid too much or too little water. Both of which are not good for the plant.
To do this wait until the topsoil is dry before watering.
Soil for Ivy Geranium
Ivy Geranium can be grown indoors, in containers or outside in the ground. As such, the soil you’ll use will likely different.
However, the most important thing to consider is that it should be moist and well-draining. The plant also prefers soil pH to be between 6.5 and 7.5 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline).
Similarly, fertile, well-aerated and loose soil help a lot a well.
But, all these are secondary to well-draining soil. That’s the most important thing to have when growing Ivy Geraniums.
As such, loamy or slightly sandy soil work best in the garden.
In containers, hanging pots or indoors, you’ll want to use potting mix. Here, you’ll also want to be more aware of the watering situation because over or underwatering can quickly affect its health.
- Too much water has nowhere to go. If the soil is water-retentive, your plant’s roots are stuck sitting in water.
- Too little water means the roots have nowhere else to search for water. Unlike in the garden, it can rely on rain or water from the rest of the soil.
When it comes to rich soil, you can rely on fertilizer. But, I prefer using compost, worm castings or bone meal, all of which increase organic matter.
Finally, be aware of where you put the containers as well. The plant’s stems can easily break. So, avoid heavy foot traffic areas in the garden and keep them away from paths where people can brush against them when walking by.
Your Ivy Geranium will benefit from fertilizer. But, do be careful not to overdo it because they are light feeders. As such too much fertilizer will do more harm than good.
To increase flowering, apply a balanced (10-10-10) all-purpose fertilizer during its growing season. You can likewise use slow release fertilizer which will let you feed them less frequently.
Speaking of which, when picking up a plant from the nursery, always make sure to check if has been pre-enriched with fertilizer. Most garden centers will add it. You also want to know what kind and for how long the fertilizer will last.
That way, when the initially mix is done, you’ll know when to supplement it.
Ivy Geranium are fast growing plants. As such, they’re a great way to add a density to a blank area in your garden. Similarly, they’ll fill out a container or hanging basket quite quickly.
Most of their growth will happen in the spring. This in in part because of the cooler weather. Thus, you want to make sure that you’re feeding it and keeping the soil moist at this time to provide ample sustenance.
When it comes to pruning, you’ll likely need to do some work. But, do note that some varieties are self-cleaning.
Self-cleaning simply means that they’re able to “clean after themselves”. This makes them low maintenance since it cuts down the work on your part.
For the most part, this involves the wind or other things blowing off the flowers from the plant. At times, the older flowers will just go away.
So, you don’t have to remove them.
That said, many varieties will need deadheading. Trimming back faded flowers actually helps promote new flower bud growth.
Additionally, also prune leggy stems to about halfway. This will allow for new growth that will help the plant look fuller and denser.
In areas where there it no frost, some varieties will likewise need pruning as their stems can get woody if you don’t trim them back.
Ivy Geranium Propagation
Ivy Geranium are easy to propagate. This actually holds true for other pelargoniums as well. That said, you can also propagate from seed. But it does take significantly longer to do so.
- Here’s how to propagate Ivy Geranium from stem cuttings.
- Pick healthy stem that has at least 2 or 3 leaves. Ideally, you want a non-flowering stem.
- Cut off a 4 to 6 inch long stem using a sterile pair of scissors or pruning shears.
- Remove all the leaves and buds except for 2 or 3 that are higher up. You don’t want to leave any leaves that will go into the group.
- Fill a small pot with slightly moist soil.
- Place the cutting into the soil. Keep depth at around 1 to 3 inches into the soil.
- Leave the container in a bright areas with no direct sunlight.
- After about 3 to 4 weeks, roots should develop. You can lightly tug the plant to see if it resists. If it does, it is a sign that roots have grown.
- Allow a few more weeks to pass to allow the plant to grow a bit more Once you get past 6 weeks or so, you can decide when you want to move it to a larger container.
Overwintering Ivy Geranium
If you live in USDA Hardiness zones 9 and 10, you can keep the plant outdoors all year round. For other parts of the country, it is a good idea to keep them in containers.
This way, it is easy to move them once the cold weather comes around.
Here you have a couple of options.
The more common one is to take the plant indoors and keep it as a houseplant. Then, take it back out into the sun when spring arrives.
If you do this, make sure to debug your plants before brining them indoors.
Another option, which I prefer doing is to keep them in a cool dark place. While you won’t be able to have them in your home, this method allows them to come back with a vengeance in spring. That is, they’ll produce more blooms next season.
Here’s how to do it.
- Trim the plants about a third of the way.
- Place them somewhere that is dark and cool. You can use your basement, garage or shed.
- Cut back on watering. But, don’t allow them to completely dry out. This comes out to about once a month.
- In the midst of winter, trim off another third of the plant.
- Move them to a brighter location. But, make sure they stay cool but protected from frost.
- Start to increase watering until you get to about once a month. Then add balanced (10-10-10) slow-release fertilizer.
- Once spring comes around, you can take them back outside.
Ivy Geranium are toxic to pets. So, keep them away from dogs and cats who may want to chew on the leaves or flowers. ingestion will likely lead to vomiting or some kind of gastrointestinal distress.
The milky sap can also cause skin irritation.
Pests and Diseases
Ivy Geranium can fall victim to spider mites, fungus gnats and thrips. Occasionally, you may also see whiteflies and aphids. The good news is ivy geraniums are not overly prone to them.
On the other hand, overwatering can cause a lot of different problems. This is likely something you want to be careful of.
Some negative effects from too much water include edema, root rot and leaf spot.
The latter happens when the leaves get wet and there isn’t a lot of air circulation to help them dry. So, avoid wetting the leaves and providing ample airflow is key.
With root rot and edema, it is all about too much water or watering the soil too frequently. Again, both are preventable.