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You know it’s summer when the Pelargoniums are out! For me, they are the quintessentially British Summer bedding plant. There was a time when they fell out of fashion and were seen as dowdy or garish, but there is a such a variety that you’re sure to find a pelargonium that suits you and your garden. Sold as an annual, they are an easy way to brighten up a flower bed or pot arrangement. I’ve managed to overwinter some pelargoniums in the garden as the winters don’t get too cold in our corner of the country.
Coming in a range of colours from white through to red, oranges and purples; there will be a colour to suit all colour schemes. They are one of the easiest plants to propagate from cuttings, and this is a guaranteed method to ensure clones of the parent plant.
You can get various types of pelargonium such as Angel, Regal and Zonal; as well as trailing varieties with ivy shaped leaves. Scented leaves are a nice addition to patio pots that get brushed as you walk by, I’ve got a lovely one that’s leaves smell like cola cube sweets!
Other Names for Pelargonium
Sometimes Pelargoniums are referred to as tender geraniums. This is not to be confused with true geraniums, which are a perennial plant. The name pelargonium comes from the Greek “pelargos” meaning “stork” because the seedhead looks like a stork’s bill.
They love to be situated in a hot, sunny position. Hailing from tropical and temperate regions of the world means they can tolerate a certain level of drought and heat. However, they will perform better if they are well watered. I tend to feed mine weekly throughout summer with a tomato feed, such as Tomorite. If you deadhead, new flowers will grow quickly.
A pelargonium will not tolerate even a mild frost. I have had some plants survive overwinter in the garden, as our winters in East Kent have been very mild recently.
These require no special care, regular deadheading is about as taxing as it gets. When deadheading, take the whole spike off at the stem. When the flowers are spent, this whole section tends to snap off easily with your fingers.