Pelargonium (forms of garden origin)
Popularly but erroneously known as Geranium,
the Zonal Pelargoniums of gardens are hybrids
of the two South African species Pelargonium zonale and
These plants are of succulent growth and attain
heights of two feet or more.
The leaves are round, three to five inches across,
scalloped and toothed, with a dark zone at the
centre, and aromatic when crushed; the flowers
are mostly single, and inch or more across and
are borne in many-flowered umbels, the colours
varying from orange-scarlet, pink and salmon to
There are some with variegated foliage known as
The best plants are obtained from cuttings rooted
in the autumn for planting out in the following
spring when all risk of frost has passed.
The site chosen must be sunny and the soil humus-rich.
Seedlings raised from seed sown as soon as it
is ripe, in August, will bloom in ten months if
grown on under heat in a greenhouse.
Propagation is from cuttings or seed.
The flowering season is in summer.
Half Hardy Perennial.
One to three feet.
Flowers white, and shades of pink and scarlet,
July to November.
The familiar summer bedding plants known to generations
as “Geraniums” have of late years
changed their names to “Pelargoniums”.
The title which used to belong to that class of
pot plants beloved of the green-fly, with dark-blotched
crimson and white flowers, now spreads over the
whole race; the shaded and blotched blooms now
became “Regal”, the old “Geraniums”
“Zonal” and the pink-flowered climber
It is more systematic, but a little confusing
to old-fashioned people.
As they concern the out-door gardener, Pelargoniums
are summer bedding-plants.
They are at present suffering from the reaction
after the long vulgarisation of an unintelligent
vogue, but there is still a place for their useful
spots of bright colour, which continue up to the
very verge of winter.
The Zonals (the old “Geraniums”) are
the best known and most easily grown variety if
the gardener does not possess any plants from
which to obtain stock, he should buy rooted cuttings
in small pots about the end of May.
Single flowers are more effective than double
for outdoor display.
The Pelargonium will grow in very ordinary garden
soil, but this does not mean that it should be
thrust into any odd corner which has received
no preparation whatever.
When once put out, the plants should take care
of themselves throughout the summer.
They will stand a good deal of drought, but a
dripping season destroys their effectiveness;
in rainy times they run to leaf and sometimes
almost cease to flower.
Cuttings should be taken from the plants in August
– well-ripened tops of the shoots, three
or four inches long.
They may be dibbled into the open ground, in a
place where they are shaded from the noonday sun.
A few waterings may be necessary, in dry weather,
but with ordinary fortune every cutting ought
to strike without attention.
Roots should be formed in a month, and the cuttings
must be taken up before there is a risk of more
than a couple of degrees of frost, and be planted
in pots or boxes, so that they can be stored under
cover during the winter.
All that is necessary is that the temperature
should not go below 30°; with this provision,
the cooler the atmosphere the better for the plants.
A paraffin lamp will keep a small greenhouse safe,
and at a pinch the boxes of cuttings may be stored
in attics or on window-sills.
There are many named kinds of “Geraniums”;
but for outdoor growing good specimens of simple
white, pink and scarlet are the best.
An excellent way of growing the plants is in large
pots or wooden tubs.
If good rich soil be supplied, and watering be
judicious, they will flower most satisfactorily
The tubs and pots may, of course, stand on gravel
walks, steps or paved yards, and provide bloom
where it could not be grown in ordinary beds.
Paraffin casks, sawn in two, charred inside and
painted out, make excellent receptacles; after
the summer display is over, they may be filled
with wallflowers or forget-me-nots for the following
The tubs should have a dozen holes bored in the
bottom, and should have a two-inch layer of stones,
broken brick and potsherd to afford drainage.
The “Regal” or “Show”
Pelargoniums are more fitted for greenhouse culture;
they may be used for pots and window boxes.
The “Ivy-leaved” tribe is a climber,
which in southern latitudes, such as Devon or
Cornwall, will clothe a house wall, and survive
an ordinary winter.
In less kindly climes it may be allowed to ramble
as far up a wall as it can in one season, or it
may be planted in the open and made to climb a
framework of sticks.
It is propagated by cuttings made in the same
way as those of the Zonal kinds.
The variegated-leaf Pelargoniums, with bands of
chocolate, yellow and white on the green leaves,
are grown for their foliage as well as their flowers.
It is easy, though seldom done, to raise Pelargoniums
from seed. Sow in boxes of sandy soil in a moderate
hot-bed in March, and treat as half-hardy annuals.
The results will probably be somewhat mixed, but
some fine flowers may be obtained amongst the