The Q&A Archives: Geranium leaves turn brown and die

Question: The leaves on my potted Martha Washington geraniums turn brown and then die. I've tried fungicides but they haven't helped. What should I do? Adrian Moser Waynesville, NC


More water is probably the cure. Even though geraniums like dry soil, they also use a lot of water. If they're too dry, the lower leaves turn brown, says Chuck Heidgen, owner of Shady Hills Garden, geranium growers in Batavia, Illinois. Martha Washington (Also called Regal) geraniums are especially finicky about their growing requirements.  They need more water than other geraniums and should be fed every four or five waterings with a liquid fertilizer, such as Miracle Gro, at half strength, Says Heidgen.    Plants in pots can be hard to water properly. Soilless mixed commonly used in pots contain a high amount of peat moss. If the mix gets too dry, it becomes impervious to water and the peat shrinks, causing a space between the pot and soil. Water runs off the dry surface, down into the space and out of the bottom of the pot.  It looks as though the pot is filled with water because it's running out the bottom, but the water isn't actually soaking the roots,  says Heidgen. If you push your finger to the depth of one knuckle into the mix and it's still dry, it's time to water, says Heigden. Water your pots slowly two or three times, with a half hour between waterings, to saturate the peat mix.

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