Pelargonium is a genus of flowering plants native to southern Africa and Australia. It includes about 200 species, commonly known as Geraniums. They are also known as Storksbills in the United States. Confusingly, Geranium is the botanical name, and also a common name of a separate genus of related plants often called Cranesbills. Both genera belong to the family Geraniaceae. Linnaeus originally included all the species in one genus, Geranium, and they were later separated into two genera by Charles L'Héritier in 1789.
Pelargoniums occur in many growth forms, including herbaceous annuals, shrubs, subshrubs, stem succulents, and geophytes. The erect stems bear five-petaled flowers in umbel-like, occasionally branched clusters. Leaves are usually alternate and palmately lobed or pinnate, often on long stalks, sometimes with light or dark patterns.
Some species are true succulents with water-storage tissues in the stems, a few species even appear to have succulent leaves, and some are underground geophytes.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Most Pelargoniums are grown in pots in a greenhouse or conservatory. They can also be grown inside the house but need to be in the sunniest area possible.
Many species do well when they are planted outside in an open area to become larger plants. However, this can be a problem if you want to replant them in a pot for the winter months. Cuttings can be taken in the summertime instead to make new plants.
Succulent species grow well with other succulents and cacti. Pelargoniums are very attractive and one of the toughest and most durable succulents.
Pelargoniums main requirement is a warm, sunny, sheltered location. Many species will tolerate drought conditions for short periods. They will show you when they want water by producing a crop of new leaves. Almost all species are winter growers. After the summer, you can wait until the plant begins to grow, but you can also give them light spraying or shower to stimulate their growth. They like water when they are in full leaves but always keep the soil dry out between waterings. Overwatering can cause unnatural growth.
Pelargoniums are easy to propagate vegetatively from cuttings.
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