The Garden Guy: Calliope Large Orange Splash electrifying in color

Norman Winter
Tribune News Service
Calliope Large Orange Splash geranium will reach 18-inches tall and 24-inches wide. (Norman Winter/TNS)

Calliope Large Orange Splash geranium is new this year and has been causing an assortment of ‘oohs and ahhs’ at this year at trial gardens. It was particularly so at the Young’s Plant Farm Trials at Auburn, Ala., First off, Calliope has really become the go-to geranium in the south for season-long performance.

Syngenta Flowers has packaged the Calliope geraniums in Medium, Large, Landscape and Cascade, so you should find the perfect habit for your situation. Believe it or not, this represents around 38 colors or selections from which to choose.

In Greek mythology, Calliope was a goddess know for inspiring eloquence and poetry and similarly will inspire you in the color garden. The Large Orange Splash is electrifying in color and at the Young’s Plant Farm Trials their combination encouraged people to bring out cameras like models strolling down the runway. It was partnered with Archangel Dark Purple angelonia and Aquilera ageratum for a dazzling complementary scheme.

Calliope Large Orange Splash will reach around 16 inches tall with a whopping 24 inches in width. This gives it great options in the landscape and containers. With Calliope, I am no longer jealous of the West Coast as I have geraniums that I can plant in April that will look great until freezing weather arrives.

Since they are easy to grow, you are practically guaranteed your green thumb award. The Dallas Arboretum has some of the most well-known trials in the country. They really put them through the rigors. Calliope was outstanding and bloomed until September.

They are such standout performers you can forget the thriller spiller filler recipes and let them perform ‘Mono Magic.’ Of course, they will work as component plants, too, which is what I have done in the past; combining with coleus and petunias and lemon ball sedum.

While much of the country can plant in the full sun in the Deep South the ideal location would be full sun until just past noon then a little protection in afternoon shade. They prefer fertile organic-rich soil with good drainage.

To prepare your soil, loosen it 8- to- 12-inches deep, and add 3- to- 4-inches of organic matter, like compost or humus. Most garden centers have good choices in soil conditioners. As you are preparing your soil, take the opportunity to incorporate about one pound of 12-6-6-fertilizer or something that is slow-released and balanced per 100-square-feet and rake the soil smooth.

Geraniums are heavy feeders and many gardeners do not apply enough fertilizer to meet the plants’ nutrient needs. We can feed every two weeks with a dilute, water-soluble fertilizer like a 20-20-20, or apply a granular, control-released fertilizer every four to six weeks per formula recommendation. When it is time to deadhead old flowers, pinch or break off the flower stalk at the base. This really increases your flower production.

Even though July is almost here if you find yourself woefully lacking in garden color, take the opportunities you still have and plant Calliope geraniums. Large Orange Splash is the newest and most riveting color in the series.

Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.