Geraniums have changed in 70 years; celebrate with someone who knows

David Mischler at Mischler's Florist and Greenhouses in Williamsville
David Mischler, 80, has been working with Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses since he was 12. The family business will celebrate its 75th anniversary on Saturday. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Geranium plants are better than they were decades ago, said David Mischler, 80. He should know.

“I’ve been working with geraniums since I was about 12,” he said.

Now the office manager at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, he shares a quick history of geraniums as well as a tip about making geraniums look good for your next party.

He will also be giving tours as Mischler’s holds its 75th anniversary celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 13 at Mischler’s, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville. See details of the celebration below.

Geraniums now grow, bloom quickly

geranium past its prime
The open florets on this geranium are past their prime and don’t look good, but there are florets hanging down ready to take their place. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

When Mischler started working at the family business, it took a long time for a geranium to grow and bloom.

“Varieties grow so much faster and bloom so much more freely now,” he said. “The growth time is half of what it used to be.”

The key was research done at Penn State University in the 1960s, he said.

Researchers found that a virus in the geranium stock made the plants grow slowly and bloom slowly, Mischler said.

In some varieties of geraniums, researchers were able to isolate cells that didn’t contain the virus. From that, they established a line without the virus.

“You used to wait to have a big plant before it bloomed, but now it blooms when it’s itsy bitsy,” Mischler said.

Because the plants grow much faster, the staff at Mischler’s don’t have to start as early as they used to.

“Now we’re growing poinsettias where there used to be geraniums,” he said.

Make your geranium flowers look fresh

deadheading geranium
About a week before you hold a party, remove just the fading florets. The florets that are hanging down will open and you’ll have a fresh flower to dazzle your guests. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

The flower on a geranium can last for a month, Mischler said.

If you’re looking at the plant from the street, it will be fine. But if you look at it close up, you may notice that the florets on top are fading and past their prime.

When you have people over, you want these annuals to look their best. A week before your party, remove all the dead florets on top. Plucking off the spent blooms one by one would be tedious and take too long. Mischler demonstrated cutting them off with a pocketknife, but you could use garden shears.

Make sure you cut only the spent blooms on top. There are still florets hanging down that are ready to bloom. In a week, those other florets will have opened and filled in and the geraniums will look fresh.

In addition to its fast-growing and long-lasting blooms, geraniums have other traits that gardeners like. Geraniums don’t need a lot of water, so they’re easy to care for. There are taller varieties and compact varieties. And right now they are on sale: You can buy one, get one geranium free now at Mischler’s.

Mischler’s 75th anniversary celebration

Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses will hold its 75th anniversary celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 13 at Mischler’s, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville.

The celebration will include:

  • Music – Relax and enjoy the sounds of indie alternative singer/songwriter and musician, Sara Elizabeth, a local musician.
  • Plein Air – Watch artists as they create works of art using Mischler’s gardens and table displays of floral products as subject matter.
  • Book Signing – Purchase your personal copy of Buffalo- Style Gardens and have it signed by author Sally Cunningham from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Tours – Enjoy a brief, behind-the-scenes tour of their greenhouses and floral shop operations.
  • Door Prizes – A number of attendees will be the lucky recipients of hourly door prizes from Mischler’s.
  • Picture This! – Take a selfie next to their new sign, post it to Facebook, and tag them @MischlersFlorist to be eligible to win a $75 gift certificate from Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses.

3 Comments on “Geraniums have changed in 70 years; celebrate with someone who knows

  1. Gloria, contact the extension service in your area. They will be able to give you great advice. I hope that helps!

  2. Why are my Martha Washington geraniums have buds,but do not open?
    They’re in a pot on my balcony railing.

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