The plant that many gardeners call geraniums are botanically categorised as Pelargoniums. This genus includes numerous garden hybrids and cultivars which adorn gardens around the globe, although their heritage is richly South African. Many of the original species used for breeding the multitudes of modern day hybrids were collected in the Western and Eastern Cape. Pelargoniums enjoy the drier weather conditions that much of KZN experiences during winter and early spring. They flourish in most areas, except for those that experience severe winter frost.
Many pelargoniums are grown for their colourful blooms on short stems that stand out above their fragrant leaves. Some have attractively coloured or variegated foliage to add to their allure. Others are bushy of habit, whilst cascading or ivy-leafed Pelargoniums hang over the edge of pots, baskets and retaining walls. There are plenty of different options available this season to please every taste.
They’re invaluable for pots and containers in sunny positions, or for rock gardens. Well drained soil is essential, along with regular applications of 3:1:6 water soluble plant food. Dead head spent flowers to encourage prolonged flowering. Look out for rust on the underside of the leaves (orange pustules). Spray with a fungicide that is registered for this disease.