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Martha Washington geraniums, rich, beautiful and easy to grow

This Martha Washington geranium has a pico tee edge, meaning the blossoms are rimmed in white.
This Martha Washington geranium has a pico tee edge, meaning the blossoms are rimmed in white.
Connie Glasheen

Martha Washington geraniums, also known as Regal geraniums, are some of the showiest geraniums around. The foliage is bright green with a light citrus scent, and the blossoms look like rich velvet. The colors are deep purple, deep burgundy, pale pink, pink and white, and garnet. They bloom in cooler temperatures, so are especially gorgeous in spring and autumn when temperatures are in the 60s.

This fancy Martha Washington geranium is easy to grow
Connie Glasheen

Martha Washington geraniums like a bright light. Since they are tropical, they would need to be brought in before frost, as that would kill the plant. Victorian gardeners built collections of Regal geraniums, filling their greenhouses, window sills and conservatories with choice specimens. Overwinter the Regals in a sunny window, and in early spring take cuttings to establish more plants.

Martha Washington geraniums can be propagated in two different ways. Take a cutting from the plant that is 4 to 6 inches long. Cut the stem slightly under a leaf node, remove all lower leaves. Put the cutting in coarse sand, deep enough to keep it upright. Keep the cutting moist but not soggy wet. The pot can be covered with plastic wrap or a clear plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect and help to keep the soil moist.

Dividing a plant is another option. Loosen the soil around the roots of the plant enough that you can reach the roots without removing the plant from the pot. Using a sharp knife, separate a small section of the roots from the rest of the plant. Do not pull or rip at the roots, try to be gentle. Recover the original plant's roots and pot the new section of plant in another similar sized pot. Keep the soil damp. The new plant may wilt a little at first but will soon perk up. Once you see new leaves forming, you know it has rooted.

While supplies last, you can find gorgeous Martha Washington geraniums for sale at Growing Gifts gift shop, at Olbrich Botanical Gardens here in Madison. Each plant is full of blossoms and buds and cost $8.00 each, which is a great bargain. They have been growing in the greenhouses at Olbrich, and proceeds benefit the free public gardens. Don’t forget, if you are an Olbrich member, you will receive 10 % off your purchase of Martha Washington geraniums, making this an even sweeter deal.