My geraniums are dying


My geraniums are dying and I am not sure how to revive them. My balcony faces west and they receive afternoon sun. I water them daily but the leaves are turning red and they look scraggly.


Thank you for sending your question to Toronto Master Gardeners, and hopefully we can help revive your balcony geraniums.

A number of important considerations come in to play when advising on geranium issues: red and yellowed leaves on geraniums can result from both over-watering — and under-watering.

First, from your photos you thoughtfully provided, it appears that your balcony is high enough to be subject to winds that may not occur at ground level. And these winds can be stressful on the plants.

Second, your balcony faces west, and thus the plants are receiving sunlight from when the sun is at its zenith, to possibly sun set. Your photos don’t show any evidence of a sun screen. And so your plants could also be dealing with some degree of sun scorch.

Third, your geraniums are a variety of Pelargonium, sold individually for direct planting in the ground, or for multiple planting in large containers. In either case, the roots systems would have access to a much larger volume of soil, and the water and the nutrients within.

It is understandable that you have been inclined to water your plants daily. However, the pots are short on growing material, and the water is likely draining into, and sitting in the bottom of the bottom pots. And geranium roots are very sensitive to being to wet, let alone waterlogged. Further, whatever nutrients may have been in the soil at the time of purchase are possibly leached out by now.

You do have the option of transplanting your geraniums together into one much larger container, say 15″ dia., with a specialized geranium, soil-less mixture, one that will promote good drainage, and also place a saucer larger by 4″ in dia. under the pot. Feed with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer, well-diluted according to the instructions. Pinch back the red/yellow damaged leaves to the closest nodes, and await new growth.

Lastly, position your pot where there could be some relief from hours of long, hot afternoon sun — some balcony gardeners invest in a rolling pot stand, on casters, for ease of customizing sunlight hours on their planters.

For further reading, please see the Toronto Master Gardener Guide for:  Pelargonium Geranium