When to water 

Advice by Jim Zemcik


Trying to be a good citizen and cutting back on your water usage, you notice that your geraniums in the

ground are dropping leaves and getting very leggy. All plants have a wilt point and will show you they need

water. Unfortunately, when geraniums reach their wilt point they drop their leaves. They recover with watering

but the recovery time is very long and they may require pruning to achieve fullness.

How do you save water and have full plants?

One of the things we do in landscaping is plant impatiens among, or near, the geraniums. When the impatiens

reach their wilt point they actually start to droop. When watered they spring back to life without delay. We have

found that they are a great indicator plant for geraniums. When the impatiens start to wilt water them and the

geraniums. The impatiens will spring back and the geraniums will get the right amount of water to keep them lovely.

You won’t overwater the geraniums and you will save water as well.


Note from Northern Santa Barbara County.  Some dedicated gardeners here would love to follow this advice, but (rare and in isolated

microclimates) freezing temperatures kill impatiens. 


Martha Washington (Regal) Geraniums 

An article on Regals by Jim Zemcik


Rust? Fungus?

Advice by Jim Zemcik

Over the years I have recommended the use of Immunox for the elimination and prevention of geranium rust. A better alternative has always been a systemic fungicide but not all fungicides will work on geranium rust. In addition systemics have been available mainly to commercial growers, tend to be very expensive and, for the home gardener, difficult to use. Recently I came across a readily available product that not only works very well for rust but its systemic attribute will clear up root funguses as well. Many plants suffer in extremely wet conditions due to things like pythium that kills the fine root hairs and often results in plant death.  Pythium is the largest killer of house plants. When you see references to “damping off” they are referring to pythium.

The folks at Bayer have a product named “Disease Control for Roses, Flowers & Shrubs”.  I mixed the product according to directions and sprayed two applications 14 days apart. Then our wet weather hit. By this time I would normally have expected big problems due to rust and botrytis. Nothing. In fact, my plants never looked better. The stuff outside fared better than the plants in the greenhouse. It is said God looks after the stupid and He certainly must have been prodding me so I would spray just before the rain hit.

This is a product worth trying. Bought mine at Lowe’s. Do Not buy the granular Bayer product. This is a liquid concentrate that is applied at the rate of 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon per gallon of water. You will be surprised at the results. Cost?  About $16 for a bottle that makes 42 gallons of spray. Should last the average person several years.

Cold Weather Advice

from Jim Zemcik

Given the colder weather I found this product (FreezePruf) to protect
against frost.....sounds interesting....know it is being used up north
with success......bought some to see how it works....might work for
some in colder climates



Advice from J. Zemcik.

I have had several e-mails recently regarding mealy bug (white cottony masses on the stems and leaves). They seem to be epidemic this

year. Mealy bugs are a particular problem with ivy geraniums. If you notice mealy bugs on the stems and leaves of your plants you can be

sure you also have root mealy bugs. Interestingly enough, some of the angels get root mealy bugs but not foliar mealy bugs. Sudden dieoff

of sections of foliage is an indication of the root mealy bug problem in angels. None of the topical treatments or biologicals will be of

much help in fighting mealy bugs on the root system. You will need an insecticide such as Orthene or Orthenex to clear up this problem.

You might try watering it in at one-half of the recommended strength. One application should be sufficient.



By Jim Zemcik

As if aphids, whitefly and budworm aren't enough, there are unusual reports from several So Cal areas about scale on all types of geraniums

but particularly on ivies and regals. Scale appears on the main stems of the plants and may not be visible without lifting the leaves out of the

way. This is one of those things best handled by a systemic insecticide but can be controlled with a multi-use product like Immunox. BT is not

effective against this pest. In our area scale is usually found first on citrus. Treat any citrus trees in your yard then take a good look at other

plants and shrubs in your yard and treat to clear it up. Scale insects are moved around by ants, so be sure to keep them under

control too.

© 2012, Central Coast Geranium Society (CCGS )