Newspaper Columns

Keith Hansen, Smith County Extension Agent, writes a column each week which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Keith HansenKeith Hansen’s blog

 The link above is to Keith’s blog which includes his column and other gardening news and tips.

Dee Bishop, Smith County Master Gardener, writes a weekly column which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph each week.

April 16th column

Geraniums to most gardeners here in the South are the succulent, large-leaved,IMG_0012 copy huge blooming plants that grow and bloom  beautifully until the summer heat gets too strong.  They are usually red, pink, or white or shades thereof.  The truth of the matter is they are not geraniums at all but Pelargoniums.  True Geraniums have  much smaller single to two or three in a cluster  flowers on plants much more hardy and long-lived.  “Tiny Monsters” is a true geranium and the only one we have successfully grown in our IDEA Garden.  We have tried others but with little success.  Most true geraniums like cooler summers than we have and even colder winters.  Some are hardy way up North.

The first time I ever saw a true native geranium was in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.  I later saw them in Alabama.  I fell in love because of the pretty foliage and the little pink flowers.  I still have some of the ones I brought from Alabama and they do well here too.  These natives are called Geranium maculatum.  Tiny Monsters is a blend of several that take heat making it a perfect plant for us.  Just now beginning to bloom, Tiny Monsters will bloom all summer, unless we have severe and prolonged heat.  The pretty foliage will be hidden by myriads of little hot pink blooms, just beautiful.  Why did they name it “Tiny Monsters”?  It likes to grow, in fact it loves to grow—all over the place.  We have to watch and keep it clipped off other plants which it tends to over-power.  It doesn’t seed out, nor does it spread by underground rhizomes; so all it needs is a good clipping back occasionally.  If you want to fill in a large, three by four foot area, plant Tiny Monsters and he will do you proud.  He grows to about eighteen inches high and three by four feet wide or more and provides lovely evergreen foliage.

Geraniums need moist well-drained but moist soil.  They prefer afternoon shade, but ours gets nearly all day sun and is beautiful.  Sometimes, if the summer is super hot, they will stop blooming until cooler weather arrives.  Many people call geraniums  ‘crane bills’ because the little seed pods look like a crane’s head with a long bill but Tiny Monsters doesn’t make seeds; so you won’t see that.


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