A New Passion – Species Pelargoniums

Pelargonium australe
Pelargonium australe

I have a new passion – Species Pelargoniums.  I started to notice them last year, I think initially in the large greenhouse at Wisley but then they seemed to be appearing more and more in various greenhouses I noticed.

I have grown pelargoniums for years, propagated them from cuttings and even grown them from seed.  However, I find my tastes have changed over the years and I am moving away from the big and blowsey more towards the delicate.  I had mentioned this on twitter and on my blog and the lovely Pellynut who is a pelargonium addict offered me three small species pelargonium plants that she had going spare.  Well it was rude to say no.  A small parcel arrived with three small plants all carefully wrapped.

Pelargonium sidoides
Pelargonium sidoides

The plants were in dinky pots so I potted them up into 3″ terracotta pots and put them in the greenhouse.  Over the summer they have bulked up nicely and are now all flowering.  I have been waiting for all three to flower so I could do this post but I hadn’t anticipated how hard it was going to be to photograph the tiny delicate flowers – so apologies for the quality.

Not only are the flowers incredibly delicate and pretty but so is the foliage.  The leaves on average are not that dissimilar in size to a 10p coin and are generally evergreen.  As a bonus pelargonium dicondreafolium has gorgeous scented leaves, a sort of spearmint scent.

Pelargonium dicondreafolium
Pelargonium dicondreafolium

A bit of research via the links on Pellynut’s website shows that species pelargonium originate in South Africa and come from a range of habitats ranging from the coast to high in the mountains.  They are tender plants often not surviving much below 2C degrees.  The trouble is that looking at the various nurseries that stock these little beauties my wish list keeps growing.  Should I go for the pelargonium gibbosum with its pretty yellow-green flowers or for something more brash such as pelargonium fulgidum which has bright red flowers.  Then of course there are quite a few to choose from in between.  Luckily they are quite small plants so despite having a small greenhouse I still have space for quite a few of these beauties.


17 Comments Add yours

  1. Christina says:

    Don’t apologise for the images, they’re beautiful. I could become passionate too; thanks for sharing these lovely flowers. Christina

    1. patientgardener says:

      Thanks Christina – you have no idea how many pics I took to get those three!!!

  2. Gwen says:

    Helen – they are all highly addictive. Also not all are small, even the ones you have will grow larger in larger pots. P. sidoides is also scented – if you bring the plant indoors when it is in flower, the scent will quickly fill a room at night. But they are all beautiful! Good pictures, and thanks for the mentions. Gwen

  3. I have a small collection of these but don’t know the name of any of them I use them as houseplants as they are hard to kill off. When they get a bit leggy I give them a good chop and plant up the cuttings.

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Elaine
      Hadn’t thought of using them as houseplants but as Pelly says that some are night scented might well do that

  4. easygardener says:

    I like the species ones too. Some of the flower colours are quite surprising – especially the darker reds and the greeny yellows. The fragrance of some of them is a bonus!

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Easygardener – yes I feel there is a whole world of them to explore and the differences are more obvious than in aeoniums and echiveras which I had sort of been collecting

  5. Janet says:

    I first came across these species pelargoniums a few years back in a Gardens Illustrated article. I bought a few with the idea of propagating from them but lost them in a damp greenhouse over winter. You’re tempting me all over again, Helen.

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Janet – a few people have said they are difficult to keep so I shall see how I get on

  6. fulgidum!
    not in my garden but growing wild.

    Tomorrow going to try and photograph my nutmeg pelargonium, tiny white flowers.

    1. patientgardener says:

      Looking forward to seeing your nutmeg pelargonium

  7. Victoria says:

    I haven’t had much luck with these, but I do think they’re lovely. They look like something out of a botanical painting – which is appropriate! You’re so good at nurturing things, I think they’ll do really well with you. Now I know what to bring you next time I come to Malvern.

    1. patientgardener says:

      I suppose I could have a go at painting them but the flowers are tiny and delicate, not my strong point!!

  8. They are good images of the flowers. I can bet they would be hard to photograph too. I never though of them having the species varieties. Good to know.

  9. Oh dear, I am glad we will be moving soon so that I can’t afford to get hooked. I can see it being a permanent condition, they are beautiful Helen. Enjoy your new addiction!

  10. VP says:

    Derry Watkins introduced P sidoides to this country, so you’re in very good company 🙂

  11. Jenny Woods says:

    If you ever get the opportunity to visit, they have a lovely collection of species Pelargoniums at Stourhead. My favourite job when volunteering there was to be allowed to tend, tidy, pick over and sparingly water them. Hands smelt great after – if a bit sticky!

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