Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pelargonium 'Mallee Magic'

Pelargonium 'Mallee Magic' (Geraniaceae)
Sometimes you have to grow a plant for a couple of years to find out how it behaves and responds to different seasonal conditions. This native Geranium is possibly an inland form of G. australe and puts most of its energy into growing during winter and early spring before fading and "going off" during summer. In August it is smothered in flowers which stand proud of a low mound of tightly held leaves. Then in the first days of summer it starts to shrink back underground and though still producing a few flowers, the tight compact foliage is gone and growth is sparse. It hardly looks like the same plant. Like other species of Pelargoium, many of which originate from South Africa, it has a spreading root system consisting of swollen nodes or food storage segments to help it through harsh summer conditions . New shoots resurface a bit like suckers do on a shrub or tree around the original parent plant when conditions become favourable such as after rain and when temperatures are cooler. So the upshot of all this is that to propagate it you have to do so in winter usually by division when growth is rapid.

Mid winter foliage
Small new plants with sparse growth but still with flowers are waiting in the wings for potting on in winter 2014

1 comment:

  1. Ian, I have been trying to grow a potted native pelargonium for some months now. It has escaped into the garden & I'm pleased to see that the escapee is actually doing better than the original plant.
    Interesting to read that they are winter growers.