Geranium Cascade ‘Mini Lila’

Cascade LilaOut of the Cascade line, ‘Lila’ is considered one of the top performers among European-style trailing geraniums, which feature a single floret instead of a double floret but masses and masses of color. It used to be that both Americans and Europeans bought the same type of hanging geranium, and we are trying to re-introduce this basket style into the market. The Ivy Geranium got its start this way, and it is still the quintessential style of basket geranium in Europe today.

American breeding over the past few decades has led to changes in the ivy geranium. One problem with the old genetics was bloom shatter; when rain or breezes came along, the petals would shatter and fall off easily. Americans began to breed their ivy geraniums to hold the petals tighter to the blossom. As an offshoot of that breeding, ivy geraniums began to develop double florets but they would not produce as many of them. Over the years, this style of basket geranium became the norm for Americans to purchase.

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As trends come full circle, there has been a resurgence of interest in that older geranium style but without the shatter and drop. Gardeners here missed the full coverage that the older geraniums offered and the Europeans still kept as their standard. Breeders have gone in and recaptured that look, but with much better weather durability for the flowers.

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To re-introduce that cottage basket style of geranium, we have selected the very best performer to place into production for 2013. This one, the ‘Mini Lila’, is interesting because its foliage is two-toned with dark green edges. ‘Lila’ pretty much stays in bloom because the flower production is so prolific; it doesn’t cycle as much between low and high color.

‘Lila’ is a vigorous plant with good trailing habit, so it’s great for window boxes and planters. Since it requires the same cultural care as ivy geraniums, you should be able to swap it into any basket you use for the American-style ivies.

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One little detail we’ve noticed as we’ve grown out this geranium: it doesn’t seem to suffer as much from edema, which appears as small brown lesions on the leaves. It is not a disease, because it comes from big swings in watering cycles. If a geranium goes really dry and then gets watered vigorously, some of the cell walls in the leaves will literally explode from the rapid uptake of water. It won’t harm the plant, but it does look unsightly. Our ‘Lila’ seems to resist this problem, so we think it is more tolerant of the irregular care that owners might provide.