Succulent pelargoniums


The pelargonium succulent varieties have a special charm of their own because of their simple geometric and sculptural shapes that succulents possess,even when they need more specialist care and dry and desert like conditions with bright sunlight they are still amazing plants to collect.
In cultivation they are usually grown in a green house and can be kept in containers using a commercial compost suitable for cacti types, but because of their hot & dry conditions they need to be kept well drained.
Most pelargonium succulents are known as Xerophyte, a type of succulent that can survive in hot dry conditions with little water which it stores in its thick fleshy trunk,stems or leaves that is called succulence. Some types lose their leaves in Summer when in dry conditions and become dormant, but when the Winter rains begin it starts to come back to life again and new leaves develop.
P. cortusifolium is native to Western Namiba, North Western South Africa and is Summer dormant.
It has long thick stems with heart shaped leaves and flowers that have white upper petals and pink lower petals.
P. desertorum is an aromatic shrub let with succulent stems,toothed leaves and white elegant flowers with pink in the center.
P. carnosum is native to Namibia, South Africa and has whitish thick fleshy stems when mature, the leaves are feathery in appearance and has white flowers.
P. klinghardtense is native to South western Namibia, North Western South Africa, it has thick succulent stems that can grow to 3 cms or more when mature, the flowers are white and are similar to an orchid flower in appearance.
P. crassicaule is native to Namaqualand South Africa and is a succulent shrub let with short thick dark brown stems that grows to 4 cms when mature, the leaves are wavy and silvery green, the flowers are pale dark pink.
P. cirthmifolium is native to Southern Namiba, North Western South Africa and is one of the most heavily built pelargoniums with thick and fleshy greeny yellow succulent stems that grow to 3 cms across, it is also slow growing and takes 5 years to grow to 1 meter, the flowers are white to pale pink and the small divided leaflet leaves create a ginger and nutmeg scent when crushed, it is also summer deciduous.

Pelargonium Ovale/tricolour


P. ovale pictured below has attractive white to deep pink flowers and is a low growing pelargonium with grey green narrow oval shaped leaves, it was brought to Europe in the 1700s by Francis Masson who collected many new plant species on his travels to Africa
Another close species is P. tricolor which is quite similar to P. ovale but smaller in size and with bright coloured flowers, deep red upper petals with a black spot at the base and white lower petals, the leaves are also grey green narrow oval shaped but a lot smaller in size. It has larger flowers when it is planted in the shade and smaller in bright sun light and was collected by Masson in 1791.
At the Royal Botanic gardens of Kew a few new hybrids were being created and a cultivator by the name of pelargonium Splendide was recorded as a cross between P. ovale & P. tricolor which is still quite popular today as a garden plant, the beautiful bicoloured flowers in two different shades, like the tricolor but much larger, dark red upper petals with a dark spot in the center and white lower petals.