PELARGONIUM

Of this group of plants, those most familiar to gardeners are the evergreen, tender, flowering plants grown as bedding in the summer and in pots. Some also have decorative or scented leaves.

Suitable site and soil. Most soils will do although they prefer a neutral to well-drained, slightly alkaline soil in a sunny position. Alternatively, plant in pots of about 13cm – 5in in John Innes potting compost No. 2 or No. 3.

Cultivation and care. Plant out from early summer and dead-head to prolong flowering. In pots, water freely in the growing period and sparingly in winter.

Propagation. Increase by softwood cuttings in spring and autumn or grow from seed.

Recommended varieties. There are four main groups of pelargonium: zonal, regal, ivy-leaved and scented-leaved plants. Zonal plants are grown as summer bedding and in pots while regal are almost all grown indoors or in greenhouses. Just one of the immense range of zonal hybrids is P. ‘Orange Ricard’, with bright orange blooms. The typical zonal plant grows about 38cm – 15in. The regal range has large flowers; one example is P. ‘Lavender Grand Slam’, growing to 45cm – 18in. P. tomentosum (peppermint geranium) is an evergreen bushy species growing to about 45cm – l’ – 2ft, with leaves smelling of peppermint.

Pests and diseases.

Infections.

Prone to a number of fungal and viral

BASKET CASE

Ivy-leaved pelargoniums give shape and colour to hanging baskets. Trailing

P. ‘La France’ has stems up to 90cm – 3ft long and attractive, semi-double mauve flowers from early summer to late autumn.

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