[IGS] Pelargonium sidoides (or sidaefolium?)

At 01:22 PM 2/20/98 PST, rachel wrote:
>Well, if I can digress from zonal pelargoniums for a moment, I'd love
>to plug a beautiful pelargonium that I planted last year.  P.
>sididoides has beautiful grey-blue leaves and small charming magenta
>flowers with an orange eye all year long.  It grows in low mounds, about 12"
> by 24", and propagates by means of runners.  Few of the little
>plantlets (what is the technical word for these) seem to root of
>their own accord.  But I've had good luck cutting them off, rooting
>them inside, and transplanting them.
>I have had no trouble with any diseases, and it seems to get by with
>benign neglect.

This species made a sudden appearance on our horticultural scene a
couple of years (or so) ago, and has not become a 'regular' in the
nursery trade.  In trying to find out more about this species, I can to
find the following:

- It is in the section (of Pelargonium) Cortusina, along with P. fragrans
  (the 'Nutmeg' scented Geranium), P. crassicaule, P. reniforme

- It was apparently previously classified as a form of P. reniforme, but
  was given separate status as P. sidaefolium (I think 'sidoides' is a name
  of dubious distinction).  P. reniforme is very similar, but with magenta

- It comes from the Eastern Cape of South Africa, where many of the most
  versitile garden plants come (conditions are variable in the area between
  the winter & summer rainfall areas, hence plants are more adaptable).

I've been trying to track down the origin of the name 'sidoides', and to
verify if my assumption (above) is correct (there is enough proof for me
but then its always nice to have confirmation).

My wife and I enjoy this plant.  We grow on in a pot along with our
collection of scented (it has no scent, just interesting character ;-).  I
took numerous cutting last year, all of which rooted easily (perhaps the
reason it has become so ubiquitous in the trade!), and am now planning to
plant some in the garden.  The 'runners' Rachel mentions above seem to be
the long, branched, flower stems, which produce flowers repeatedly over a
long period.  Having seen this type of flower panicle on my various P.
fragrans cultivars, I cut them off when they get to ridiculously long.
Left on, they can produce plantlets.  These can be used for propagation, but
I found that the numerous stems of the clump strike faster and grow into
a better plant more quickly.

 Sean A. O'Hara                     sean.ohara@ucop.edu
 710 Jean Street                    (510) 987-0577
 Oakland, California 94610-1459     h o r t u l u s   a p t u s
 U.S.A.                             'a garden suited to its purpose'
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