Six on Saturday | Pelargoniums (1)

The species Pelargonium is a half hardy shrub first collected in South Africa and brought to Britain in the mid seventeenth century by sailing ships from the Dutch East Indies Company. NOT a Geranium as it is still often mislabelled in nurseries around the country. The name Geranium rightfully belongs to a group of hardy herbaceous plants native to Great Britain, Northern Europe and North America.

There are over a dozen varieties including Regal, Zonal and Scented-leaved which I tend to favour, though the new Stellar Pelargoniums which were bred as recently as the 1970’s in Australia, are quite exotic looking. You can use these flowers in the borders, in tubs or containers or in hanging-baskets or in a glasshouse. They are cheerful, colourful (from white to dark purple and almost black) and fairly resistant to pests and diseases. Even the S&S leave them alone which is one good reason for me to grow them. In winter I bring them indoors and now that I have a cold conservatory they do very well, continuing to flower most of the year.

  1. Regal Pelargoniums have some of the most colourful flowers in this genus of plants, truly everything from black to white. This is Aztec. Large white blooms with red & velvety reddish-brown markings on each petal.
  2. Another Regal is Dark Secret. It’s flowers are mahogany red with a deep burgundy blaze on each petal.
  3. Next is a Double Zonal Pelargonium, name unknown, though it could be ‘Bold Minstrel‘.  It has deep magenta, double flowers with a white centre. The Zonal type are the most popular ones grown and often seen as bedding plants in public gardens and parks.
  4. Another Double Zonal Pelargonium, again name unknown.  This has a clear mauve pink colour, with distinctive reddish-mauve blaze in the centre of each petal.
  5. Now  for a couple of  lovely Single Zonal Pelargoniums, again nameless. I have had some of these plants for years though most of what I have now are from cuttings of the original ones.   Flowers are rose pink with a white eye and the second one has deep magenta veins.
    The single ones look particularly beautiful after the rain as the drops seem to hang from every petal. All Single Zonal Pelargoniums have five petals in a floret, these are arranged in a cluster to form a flowering head.
  6. Finally, the Scented-Leaved type. These have the most attractive and fragrant leaves from peppermint and apple to rose. The flowers are often small and inconsequential, though I actually like the daintiness of this pelargonium. Leaves can be used in baking.

Prince of Orange (left) is a naturally bushy plant with small round leaves and a lovely orange scent with pale mauve, almost white, flowers.

Pink Capricorn (centre) is often incorrectly labelled Pink Capitatum.  With soft green ruffled foliage, scented lemon rose, this pelargonium has a generous habit that gently trails and is covered with mauve pink flowers that have purple feathering on the upper petals. The only thing you need to do is dead head for continuous flowering.

Attar of Roses (right) has soft, fresh green leaves of a lovely strong rose scent and small soft pink flowers. It can be used in bouquets and in enhancing the flavour of the most delicious jams.

 I keep my collection in terracotta pots on the patio. This summer I have moved them into a slightly shadier position as the sun has been so hot that they dry out very quickly.  All Pelargoniums  respond very well to regular feeds of high potash during the growing season, something which I always forget about!

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Six on Saturday


  1. They always look so pretty in big clusters. I read your comment to Jane about them not liking wet and frost. That means they’ll be perfect in my garden. We hardly ever get frost and it is definitely not wet at the moment. My rose garden is a dust bowl. Usually when we go away the weeds take over but, this time after five weeks, there is not a weed to be seen. It’s even too dry for them.

    1. Heyjude says:

      That doesn’t sound good. Are you in the drought area then?

      1. The whole east coast is in drought. It’s so bad here and there is no decent rain forecast until February 2019.

        1. Heyjude says:

          Hope this doesn’t mean the dreaded bush fires.

        2. Unfortunately there have already been a few. It’s an early start to the season.

  2. I’m really enjoying your Six on Saturday series. 🙂 The pelargoniums are lovely – I usually try to have some every summer because, not only are they tolerant of dry conditions (so not a problem if I forget to water them!) but the slugs and snails don’t like them. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Exactly! No food fodder for the molluscs! I suppose they are a touch of nostalgia for me as we used to grow the regal kind in SA and in fact collected the ‘Slams’ so we were always excited to find a new one. Now I am wondering if you can still buy that variety.

      1. There’s a little project for you… 🙂

  3. mrsdaffodil says:

    I knew they are called pelargoniums, not geraniums, but I had no idea there are so many varieties. A very interesting post!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you. I like to mix my SOS up a bit as I have a very small garden so not a lot changes from one week to the next.

  4. fredgardener says:

    Pelargoniums have such beautiful flowers, especially when you have different ones like you. I only have double-zonal with 3 different colors (pink, red and white) A special mention for the second picture of # 5, super photo!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Aw, thank you Fred. I have ordered a few different ones as I have had this lot for years, anything that isn’t much trouble and resists the S&S are good for me!

  5. pommepal says:

    I’m still not sure I can tell the difference. I think all mine are pelargoniums. No problem with frosts here. I love number 5 looks so fresh covered in rain drops

    1. Heyjude says:

      Not sure you get the hardy geraniums there Pauline.

      1. pommepal says:

        I don’t think I have seen geraniums in the nurseries around here

  6. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I came late to liking them, but they evoke Mediterranean sunshine and blue sky!

  7. Tina Schell says:

    New to me Jude-you are quite the plant whisperer 😊. Beautiful! We’re these ALL from your pots?

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes Tina, they are all mine. Looking a bit weather beaten at the moment as we had rain all day yesterday and they really don’t like getting their flowers wet, go a bit soggy 😦

  8. susurrus says:

    The picture of the single with the raindrops is a classic. I don’t think a kitchen should be without a pelargonium. I have a pure white regal that is doing very well but as it isn’t listening, I could whisper that Aztec looks prettier. If one dries out completely, it’s possible to overwinter it hanging the plant upside down in a frost free place without the soil, to my surprise. You just trim them, pot them back up and resuscitate them the next year. It’s almost as easy to start again from cuttings though, as you suggest.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Very true – on the windowsill. Unfortunately my house doesn’t have a kitchen window. And I really want a pure white one now. I have heard that about hanging them upside down, but not having had a garage or place to do this I have always had to stick them in a cold bedroom or take cuttings.

  9. Oh, I love the raindrops on the leaves. Much prefer the white flowers. Easy flowers to care for and especially to propagate. Talking of pelargoniums, there are a few that need watering in the sunroom here. Have a good afternoon 🙂

  10. Lora Hughes says:

    What a great overview. Enjoy meeting your collection! Some real beautiful ones there.

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