There are always beautiful flowers at Calle Principal de San Bartolomé 14. The flowers change with the seasons. The person who does the flowers should be given a good citizen award or the keys to the Albayzin.
Geraniums are suitable for balconies because they grow best in full sun, they can tolerate the heat and they will not die if they become totally dry even for a few days. They like being watered regularly but prefer a well drained soil. It is possible to buy specialist geranium potting soil at garden centres. They will flower continuously during summer as long as they are regularly deadheaded. If the flowers are removed once they start to deteriorate they will continue to produce additional blooms.
The propogation of Geranimum is very easy. They will root very easily if a cutting is put into damp soil or into water with root hormone solution. It is also possible to grow geraniums from seed. Most people in the Albaicin buy their geraniums at Plaza Larga in the flower market on Saturdays.
The only problem with geraniums is that they are attacked by a type of grub which eats the stems from the inside. The problem is caused by the larva of the geranium bronze butterfly (Cacyreus marshalli). The butterfly was first introduced to Europe in the late 20th century, where it has quickly spread to many southern and eastern European regions. If you read a British book or website about geraniums they do not usually mention this pest. This is because it has not arrived there yet. In order to eat the stem of these plants, the larvae drill into the stems, causing damage to the plants. The butterflies lay their eggs in the stems and then the grub lives in the stem. This is a problem with Geraniums in the Albayzin. It is necessary to treat them at least every 3 weeks or so to be sure that they are protected. If not you will notice a lack of condition with small holes appearing in the stems.
If you go to any flower shop or garden center in Spain you can get a specialized spray against "el taladro de los geraneos". In Spanish they are commonly called "the geranium drill". If you are against chemical treatments you could try neem oil.
The only other problem you can have is from over watering where you might see some grey mold.
Geraniums can put up with a slight frost and will survive down to about minus 5 C. In Granada the temperature usually gets to a couple of degrees below zero every winter but sometimes it can go lower. On one night in February 2004 the temperature got down to about minus 12 C and most of the geraniums that were outside were killed. Even olive trees had a problem on that night and the upper part of the trees were killed. Fortunately if they are cut off at the base they will rejuvenate. So if you want to make sure that your geraniums don't die in the winter they should be brought indoors. Some people take them out of the soil and over winter them in damp sand.
There is nothing better for uplifting the spirits than to walk around the Albayzin in the spring and see the balconies festooned with red geraniums.
A tip from Katrina Edbrooke is using the mothball packets from Mercadona. Just open them and spread around the pots, the butterflies hate it and leave the plants alone.
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