Pelargonium tetragonum

Pelargoniums are part of the Geraniceae family with their close relatives the geraniums and the erodiums. In theory, their scientific names come from the resemblance of the seed heads of the three plants to the beaks of birds. Pelargonium is named for pelargos, the Greek for stork (stork’s bill); Geranium for geranos the Greek for crane (crane’s bill), and Erodium for erodos the Greek for er.. unidentified bird that might be a stork, a little owl or a heron (heron’s bill).

not a Pelargonium but an Erodium
Erodium seed head

By and large, pelargoniums come from South Africa and are not hardy in the UK. Geraniums and erodiums come from all over the place, some will do well here and some won’t.

not a pelargonium but a Geranium

There are about 200 species of pelargoniums, most of which are more exciting than the ones we use for bedding. They range from succulent plants that lose their leaves regularly to big leafy plants up to 2m in height.A lot of them are easy to grow in the greenhouse or sunny windowsill, and will give you years of pleasure. Most of them don’t need much water or fertiliser, but do need a lot of sunshine.

Pelargonium barclayi – dormant in the summer, flowers in the spring.
Pelargonium acetosum – grey-green succulent leaves, flowers most of the summer
Pelargonium tetragonum – square succulent stems, very few leaves.
Pelargonium ‘Pink Capricorn’ – lots of heads of pink flowers
Pelargonium ‘Burgundy Group’ – similar to P. sidoides. Small dark red-black flowers, silvery leaves, more hardy than most.
Pelargonium laevigatum – thin, almost succulent leaves.
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