pelargonium species

pelargoniums(europe)February 26, 2004

Anyone out there who is collecting south african pelargoniums? These are so beautiful. I'm just curious if someone can share his/her information on this forum concerning plant needs to keep these beauties growing in our hemisphere?

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jeffrey_harris(San Diego, CA)

Dear Pels,

Yes, I grow them - lots of folks do who hang out at the Cactus and Succulent Forum on GW.

My culture of them is fairly easy - as the Pellies that I have are primarily succulent winter-growers, that's when they're watered. Light to no watering in the summer. Warmth and full sun. Light fertilizing in the growing season.

Pelargoniums' cousins, the Sarcocaulons, are watered year-around.

I think culture is easy here in San Diego - it's probably much more difficult in Europe unless you live in a Mediterranean climate.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2004 at 10:59AM
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Thanks Jeffrey for your reply. I read you know the Sarcocaulons as well. So, you are not a beginner. Everything depends on the damp atmosphere and alsothe light requirements. Where I live, in Belgium, the climate is frustrating for SA plants, but worth the try. In my collection you will find lots of caudex, succulents, but most of all geophytic and succulent Pelargoniums and the complete collection of Sarcocaulons. Last winter I have lost about 100 plants because the heaters went out while I was at work. This gave me less courage to continue. I will take up the pieces and start again. This forum gives me the courage to continue. And also the replies I got from friends on this forum. Thanks to you jeffrey and to all the members of this forum.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2004 at 1:20PM
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jeffrey_harris(San Diego, CA)

Au contraire, it is my distinct pleasure to assist.

A complete collection of Sarcocaulons? I would love to see some pictures if they are available. My oh my, that would certainly be a nice sight to view.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2004 at 4:58PM
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I was reading the notes. It must hurt like crazy to lose 100 plants due to heater failure, I can imagine the frustration.

Do you grow plants mostly from seed, seedlings, or cuttings? Are the plants you grow easy to obtain in the EU?


    Bookmark   February 28, 2004 at 9:28AM
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I study intensively these plants since 1994. Mostly I like the diversity of this genus and also the different habitats they grow. Last year I had the opportunity to go to South Africa and to study these beauties in nature. A whole month in SA and the only thing to do is to go to the field and study, study and study these plants. I had the opportunity to meet Prof Albers, Prof Van der Walt and Dr Vorster. They gave me instructions and also the sources to obtain seeds. Most of the plants I grow are collected from seed in wild and also from sources in SA. They are expensive to buy as bulb, but if you can obtain seeds from your plants, you can use them for trade, or seed exchange. The genus Pelargonium counts about 280 different species with subspecies. In my collection I have about 220 species and also the complete section of Sarcocaulon (this name is incorrect because Sarcocaulon has moved to the section Monsonia as a subspecies), and the tuberous Monsonia's. In pelargonium you have sections regarding to their chromosome similarities and growth habit. The dryer the habitat, the more succulent the plants will be, like section Otidia. You have annuals, tuberous, succulents, shrubs until 4 meters high, flowers until 10 cm diameter, flowerless pelargoniums etc... This makes this a very attractive plant to me.

If they only could adopt to my climate! But this is reality and humans cannot alter the biologic clock, nor the dna system of the plant (not in this way).

Sorry for my bad english, but I try to do my best.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2004 at 3:43PM
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Don't worry about your English, pel, it's good.
Jeff, you water your Sarcocaulon all year round??!! Do you still have any? ;-)
The only one I know which can take such kind of 'abuse' (or over-indulgence) is S.l'heritieri. This guy can't make up its mind whether it wants to be a winter or a summer grower.
Perhaps other shrubby types as well.
But herrei and the likes?

    Bookmark   February 29, 2004 at 9:18AM
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I meant S.vanderietiae which behaves erratically. I don't have l'heritieri.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2004 at 11:32AM
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S. vanderietiae grows in an area where the rainfall is much higher as the other Sarcocaulon grows. It gets really worse with S. marlothii. This is a very hard to find species because it grows in such a harsh climate where humans cannot stay for a long time. The stems of these Sarco's are covered with wax and with S. pattersonii sometimes they are sandpolished by the wind which gives the stems a shiny appearance. I have obtained a couple of plants of S. marlothii (very, very expensive because they are hard to find in Europe) and water them very carefully. These marlothii plants are in my collection for more then 5 years and have never seen leaves, until last summer, suddenly the plants were covered completely with leaves. Even some flowers. These plants are mature, because they are about 15 cm high. So, the habitat is very dry and rainfall is less then 100 mm per anumn. They do receive some morning fogg or dew which they can absorb with their leaves, even the spines on the stems are created that they can lead the dewdrops to the stem. Therefore these Sarco's are very affective for waterlogging. A good tip is to give these plants the UV rays in summer, not under the roof of a greenhouse, but receiving the sun directly or indirectly, but with the brightest light as possible.

I will look for a picture of me and my friend with a stand in U.K. for a national show with the complete collection of Sarcocaulons. But it will take a while before I know how to post it.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2004 at 8:14PM
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jeffrey_harris(San Diego, CA)

Dear Maddy,

Yes, I've done this for more than a year and they've kept their leaves on throughout the year. A grower at Arid Lands tipped me off - I recieved some little Sarco plants in the summer and they were in leaf. When I asked him (Chuck Hanson) about it, he told me they watered them year around, and they grow year around. I tried that with a little S. crassicaule and it worked, so now I do it with all mine. No rot, no death, leaves year around. Can't say that it would work anywhere, but it works here under my lackadaisical care.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2004 at 4:36PM
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resmith(SW BC)

You might try contacting Matija Strlic in Ljubljana sometime. She has an excellent website:

    Bookmark   March 7, 2004 at 3:53PM
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