Pelargonium tricolor

Pelargonium tricolor- meaning three coloured flowers.

This remarkable species with its natural three coloured petals resemble that of a pansy which grows wild in areas of the Eastern and Western Cape in Langeberg, Swartberg and the Outeniqua mountains under taller plants for shade. It grows in Zone 2 (winter rain without frost) and Zone 3 (the Karoo area-winter rain with light frost)

Pelargonium tricolor is a low growing shrub with greyish green leaves, long and ellipse in shape and unevenly toothed. Each flowing stalk contains about 2-4 flowers, the lower petals are mainly white while the upper petals usually contain three colours of white,pink and deep red.

When this plant grows in shade the flowers are usually larger and more showy, but when it grows in full sun the flowers are smaller in size.

During the late 1700s Francis Masson collected this species during his travels to Africa which was then brought back to the UK. In 1958 the hybrid cultivar “Splendide” was created from this species and crossed between Pelargonium Ovale named by the Royal Horticultural society, other names of this hybrid include P. violareum and P.violaceum.


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.