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Featured Plant



Scientific Name: Pelargonium spp.

Common Names: 

Family: Geraniaceae

Plant Type: Perennial, Succulent, and Shrubs

Environment: Good drainage and full sun are vital. The soil should be a good open texture with added grit. Water well, but don't keep the plants too wet, watering should be adjusted season to season.

Bloom: Known to bloom repeatedly throughout the year.

Uses: Pelargonium spp. grow very well in pots, especially window boxes and are great for lining entrance ways. Their habit is particularly nice when planted in the ground as well and can be used to 'fill in' low areas or drape down a rock wall.


  • Some species of Pelargonium such as P. graveolens are important in the perfume industry and are cultivated and distilled for their scent.

  • Cut leaves finely and use to flavor cakes, jellies, sauces, and even vinegars. Lay whole leaves under cakes where they will release their subtle flavoring. Toss the delicate flowers into salads.


Pelargonium spp. are located in: 

Entry Garden (Beds 5A-E),

Garden of Fragrance (Beds 11A-K) and

Cape Province Garden (Beds 27A-K).




Pelargoniums grow naturally in the Cape Province of South Africa. In the 17th century they were brought to Europe and called geraniums, a common mistake that persists to this day. Although both are in the same family, Geraniaceae, they are two completely different genera of plants. Most of the showy plants found in many nurseries today are hybrid pelargoniums, the result of human tampering.

Both genera are named for their elongated birdbeak-shaped fruits. Pelargonium means ‘stork's bill’ (Greek: pelargos = stork), and Geranium means ‘crane's bill’ (Greek; geranos = crane. They can be distinguished by the shape of their flowers. Pelargoniums have bilateral symmetry which means they can be divided into two equal halves, also known as zygomorphic or irregular. Geraniums have radial symmetry, where the flower is round, all parts equal, also known as actinomorphic or regular.

A favorite group is the scented pelargoniums, prized not for their somewhat insignificant flowers, but their fragrant foliage. The variety of scents includes lemon, pineapple, rose, lime, apple and peppermint. In Victorian times, stairways and garden paths were lined with pots of scented pelargoniums so long garments would brush the leaves and perfume the air.


Photos by Joanne Taylor, Text by  Kathy McNeil, Profile by David Kruse-Pickler


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