Geranium or Pelargonium
About 280 species and thousands of named varieties. Used as container plant, in a garden bed or rockery. Grown mainly for colourful flowers. These are ideal plants for a paved courtyard area in climates as varied as Hobart, Perth or Sydney. They do well in Toowoomba, but are more difficult in the humidity of Brisbane.
Herbaceous flowering shrubs; soft foliage and stems often aromatic when crushed, can flower all year in the right situation. Flower colours are varied but mainly warm colours (red, purple, yellow, orange etc) and white or cream. Usually several colours in the one flower.
A Mediterranean climate is ideal, light shade is ideal, generally hardy and easy to grow, they will survive in most soils, but for best results they like a well drained moist and fertile soil.
When flowering, plants are best protected from getting water or direct sunlight on the tender blooms (if possible) Feed in spring and follow up with routine feeding throughout the growing season. (Do not feed or water over winter, unless in a particularly warm or dry situation).
Greater ventilation is required in warmer or more humid climates.
Species are rarely grown. Most pelargoniums are classified as one of the following types, and you should select your plants according to these general groupings.
These are the most commonly grown group. Leaves are generally lobed and crinkled, with a serrated edge. There are thousands of cultivars, flowers look vaguely like azalea flowers, occuring in cluster of 3 to 10. Colours available are variable and most flowers are multicoloured. Leaves are normally green, and very rarely variegated. Most regals grow into small bushes from 30 to 60cm tall (height varies according to variety). Example: ‘Bright Marquita’.
The leaves of these have a darker patch in their centre, creating an attractive foliage effect when the plant is not in flower. This marking can fade in cold weather. Leaves have smooth (not crinkled) edges. They can flower at any time of the year in mild temperate climates. Flowers are smaller than zonals, but there are many more in a flower head (up to 100). Zonals are generally small bushes between 30 and 40cm tall.
Ivy Leaved Pelargoniums have a trailing habit. They do not form bushes unless trained to do so.
Scented Leaved Pelargoniums are varieties that have been selected or bred for their scented foliage. They are mainly bushes, but can vary in foliage texture and colour as well as scent and overall size of the plant. Most have relatively insignificant flowers.
Learn More about Plants through an ACS Plant Variety course.
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