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Pelargoniums are pretty perennials that are to be found almost everywhere – beautifying public spaces and home gardens a like. To lose your heart to pelargoniums, you first do need to know they are not geraniums, although the two are often confused.

To decipher the difference between the two, take a look at their flowers. Pelargoniums have three lower petals that differ from the upper two, meaning they are zygomorphic, geraniums however have petals that are all the same, meaning they are actinomorphic.

Pelargoniums are interesting and versatile garden plants with a hardy nature. They are ideal as border plants in sunny locations; potted on Patio’s or even used to brighten up a window box. They are fantastic for herb gardens where scented leaf varieties can be planted among your other edibles.  Many varieties have leaves that are fragrant and often smell similar to other plants, such as apricot, rose, eucalyptus, apple, coconut, lemon, lime, citrus, peppermint, lavender and pineapple. Others resemble camphor and the more culinary chocolate, nutmeg and cinnamon. Making them useful for many edible experiments, such as: in infused milk based desserts and teas.

Other uses for Pelargoniums include: Perfumes, Often rose-scented varieties or as a pest repellent, strongly lemon-scented varieties.

There are many Pelargonium species, approximately 250, many of which are indigenous to South Africa. They generally bloom from spring through to autumn, although their most abundant flowering period is spring through to early summer. The flowers are well liked by bees.

They are mainly found but not exclusively along the east and west coast of the Cape peninsula. Due to this these plants can tolerate bouts of drought and heat. However, they are susceptible to frost.

It is best to plant your Pelargoniums in well-draining all-purpose soil and feed them fortnightly with an organic top layer of compost. Allow your plants to dry out between watering’s. Water more frequently, during hot summers days and when new growth is visible. During winter plants will require less frequent watering.

Pelargoniums should be dead headed often during the flowering season to maintain and promote more blooms.

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