Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Lovely Martha Washington Geranium

Hello again,

(this article is a reprint from February 2009 but applies very well to today!)
Yet another fantastic sign of Spring is the arrival of the Martha Washington geranium from our greenhouses in Falmouth. We grow this plant right here in Maine (ALERT, ALERT! Maine grown product, Maine grown product, Support Your Local Economy!!!!!) This striking plant is a bright companion for many weeks ahead as our days evolve from winter to Spring. If you want to try something bright, fun and cheery for these late winter days then this will fill the bill!

Put your plant in a sunny window for best flowering. Fertilize monthly when plant is flowering but cut back to every two months in the fall and winter. Your geranium will do best if the day time temps are around 65 degrees with night temps around 55. To best maintain these cool temperatures try keeping that plant right in a sunny window this late winter and early Spring.

How do you “winter over” the Martha Washington geranium? This can be a challenge because the plant needs a good long cool spell in the fall to “set up” buds for the next season. It also needs a great deal of light during the winter; at precisely the time we have short winter days. If you can get the Martha Washington to flower again you will have great appreciation for just how talented our crackerjack greenhouse staff really is!

But, if you are up for a fun horticultural challenge here are a few tips to bring your Martha Washington back to flower. If any of you have indeed done this and have a few tips to share of your own, please email us your comments at and we will post them under an accompanying article at the Skillin’s Garden Log (found right at or feel free to leave your comment there!

After the plant is done flowering, I would keep the plant in bright light but eventually cut the plant back, first the dead and dying flowers and then as summer progresses cut the plant back sharply. If this produces some good strong growth around the base of the plant by late summer that is great! Cut the old growth away and let this new growth take over as the new plant for next year.

I almost forgot! Once the weather warms up, put your plant outdoors (pot and all) in only filtered light. Keep the plant outdoors for as long as you dare in the fall. Remember it wants to feel many weeks of COOL temperatures. A fall cold frame is ideal, but also out during the day and in on only cold nights might work well. Obviously by the time frost is a serious danger the plant should be back inside but then in a very sunny spot. This might also be a good time to repot the plant although most plants flower best when they are “tight” in the pot so unless your plant is overly top heavy OR unusually thirsty then maybe, just maybe you should skip a year before repotting.

Once winter hits the plant will need long days of light. So a very sunny window is necessary and probably some grow lights EARLY in the morning to give the plant a good long sunny day in winter.

Is your head spinning? Then relax and plan on buying another Martha Washington in February 2011. After all these plants are a bargain! Just $14.99 will buy you weeks and weeks of color!
(above photo taken by Hamilton Farms. That picture is great; our Skillin grown plants are brighter and "showier" still!!)

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses


Plant Care & Gardening Tips said...

Great Info. Very Lovely Martha Washington Geranium, this is one of my favorite.

Anonymous said...

Good information on how to care for my plant. However, this is my second year with this plant and I just brought it in for the cold weather. Today I noticed it was 'weeping' A clear fluid looks like water, not sticky. I have never seen this on the other Martha Washingtons I have had over the years. Can you explain?