The pelargonium species are lovely plants to grow from seed, to nurture and watch them develop into maturity. Especially the scented leaf varieties which begin to form a subtle aroma on their tiny leaves.
Many species can do well when they are planted in the garden outdoors where they can spread their roots and become larger plants. But this can be a problem if they are too large to take them indoors during the winter months away from frost & snow. Wrapping them with a garden fleece can offer some protection and also from cold winds.
Smaller Pelargonium species can look attractive in rock gardens with succulents, cacti and other plants that grow in arid conditions, or under large shrubs for shade depending on the species. Slightly larger species do well as borders plants which can add colour and fragrance to your surroundings especially when grown with other aromatic herbs.
The trailing or climbing Pelargoniums are lovely when grown in hanging baskets, creating a stunning display of delicate flowers hanging up on the wall by the house or giving extra room in your greenhouse, they can also look great in window boxes, tubs and ornamental pots.
They can then be transplanted to your garden, balcony or greenhouse adding beauty, colour and fragrance to your surroundings and can be combined with other herbs, annuals and fragrant shrubs to create a scented garden, filled with an array of enticing aromas.
In cooler countries, the pelargonium species are generally grown in pots or containers inside a greenhouse or conservatory during the winter and taken outdoors in the Spring or Summer when frost or snow has passed with warmer and longer days of sunlight. Pelargoniums are best planted in a sunny area of the garden and later before the weather starts to get cooler they can be dug up and replanted back again into a pot and moved to a greenhouse. Although making cuttings or growing new plants from seed is another option.
The intensity of light in South Africa is a lot higher than it is in Europe and North America which is necessary for the health and growth of your plants, especially the Pelargonium Species which is native to this area. Most species grow in full sun or partial shade and don’t do well in low light.
Many grow in or at the edge of forests, by the side of rocks, long grass or next to larger plants for shade.
If you have a greenhouse it is recommended that the glass windows are cleaned regularly for maximum light. Alternatively, you can buy artificial lighting for dull conditions. Although during the Summer if you find that your greenhouse is too hot inside shading may be required such as blinds or netting. Plants which are grown indoors or in a conservatory can sometimes be affected by lack of light and should then be placed in the brightest location.
In the winter if the temperature is low and watering is reduced, light is less important.
P. endlicherianum & P. queretorum are the only hardy species which are native to the Middle East, even these need careful watering and well-drained soil to survive small amounts of frost. Other species also need to be treated as frost tender, even though some have small amounts of frost in their native habitats.
There are many different types of heating for greenhouses, but some produce water vapour which can increase humidity.
5 c ( 41 F ) is about the right temperature for growing Pelargoniums in the wintertime.
Good ventilation is advised to prevent mould or damping off which is required even during the winter months.
In the summer months especially in a Mediterranean climate if the temperature goes higher than 25 c (77 F ) it might be better to put them in the shade or to increase watering.
Overwatering is believed to be the most common cause for unsuccessfully growing your Pelargoniums species. Native Pelargonium species which grow in areas with only a small amount of rainfall, can adapt to their environment.
It is best to underwater your Pelargoniums than to overwater them especially in cooler climates and to lower the amount when the temperature and light intensity falls, until the following spring when growth increases.
The yellowing of the leaves can be a sign of overwatering, if this occurs dry out the soil and remove all the discoloured leaves, to encourage new growth.
Succulent pelargoniums can be difficult to care for. Especially when grown outdoors with a lot of rain or damp conditions, the soil will need to be kept very dry and looked after as you would with cacti or succulent plants.
The main points for caring for your Pelargonium Species:
-Pelargoniums as house plants should be grown in the sunniest area possible.
-Most of the Pelargonium species grow in full sun and don’t do well in low light.
-The soil needs to be kept well drained to prevent water logging. Keep the soil slightly damp but not overly watered
-If your pelargonium is planted outdoors and you are worried about them getting too cold in the winter months, you can take cuttings during the summer and place them in pots.
-Good ventilation is advised to ensure air circulation and to prevent mould and damping off.
-It is best to underwater than to overwater your Pelargoniums.
-Your Pelargoniums may need protection in the winter months when there is likely to be very cold weather conditions.
Seeds can be sown in seed compost combined with horticultural sand or girt & perlite, the compost should be kept moist.
The best temperature for sowing seeds is about 23 c ( 72 F), but any temperature around 20-25 c ( 64-74 F) should be alright for germination.
The compost should be moist but not over watered and then covered with a clear plastic bag, or cover so that it doesn’t dry out and is kept moist.
Larger seeds can be pushed into the compost, so that the awn ( long tail attached to seed head) can be seen.
Leave in a place which is frost free and water only when the soil becomes dry.
Pelargonium seeds have an inherited ability to know when it is the right time to germinate with the correct amount of water and temperature for growth.
The two thicker rounded seed leaves develop first and then its normal foliage starts to immerge.
After the first few larger leaves have opened, the seedling can now be potted into a well aerated compost.
It is best to hold the young plant carefully by the leaves, which will prevent any damage to the stem.
Seedlings should then be placed in an area without direct sunlight and to keep it well ventilated for a couple of days.
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For more information please view or download the Pelargonium species world catalogue.
Is ideal for the pelargonium species
In hot Mediterranean-type climates pelargoniums grow well outdoors, planted in the garden, as a border plant, in a pot or a rock/succulent garden. During the hot Summer months they may need to be covered with shade cloth, grown under trees or larger shrubs for shade or watered daily. In winter they may need to be covered with a fleece or taken indoors if there is any sign of snow or if they are getting too much rain.
Pelargoniums can also be grown inside the house, but need to be placed in an area that gets a lot of light, in front of a window or under artificial lighting if required. Growing them on a balcony is another alternative as long as the temperature is not too low and is frost free.
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