TOW Tuberous Pelargonium - Part 2

Mary Sue Ittner
Thu, 26 Aug 2004 09:15:01 PDT
Dear David,

Thanks for the wonderful introduction to tuberous Pelargonium which was a 
really good read. Are there other members of this group growing these 
plants? Please speak up and tell us what you are growing and what your 
experience has been.

I heard Michael Vassar speak twice and show pictures of his Oxalis and 
Pelargonium collections. It was clear that he was crazy about both. I'm not 
sure photographs do justice to the Pelargoniums and that may be the reason 
they are not more popular.

Dirk Wallace sent me seed of my first tuberous one, Pelargonium 
incrassatum. I didn't ask for the seed (it was a nice thoughtful bonus) and 
wasn't planning to grow Pelargonium, but of course I started the seed. It 
germinated well but I lost a lot of those first plants so David's remarks 
about the first year being tricky was appreciated. I loved the foliage, but 
when it finally bloomed I found it dazzling. O.K., it probably is one of 
the most spectacular, but after that I thought I'd like to grow some more. 
When we saw them in South Africa I was even more intrigued because they are 
really so unusual. I'm not sure any of our slides did them justice although 
there was one I need to look for that was rather spectacular (can't 
remember if it was tuberous.)

I haven't done as well growing the others I have tried. Partly I've never 
been sure about when to water. And I didn't know on transplanting how deep 
to plant them so David's remarks about cultivation were helpful too. I 
assumed they wouldn't like my wet winters and humidity even if I sheltered 
them, but if David can grow them in a greenhouse maybe I could as well. My 
P. incrassatum is in my outside covered bulb structure (open sides) and is 
usually looks like it would appreciate more light.

My friend Andrew Wilson who lives in San Diego sent me pieces of two of his 
plants a year ago in the spring. One was a cutting and the other a piece of 
stem. Both looked long gone from my perspective. I wrote him back asking if 
he really thought anything could possibly grow from that dead looking stick 
and wilted looking foliage. Well, perhaps I was a bit more polite. He told 
me to be patient and indeed they both rooted and came into growth. One was 
P. fulgens which has bright red flowers. It remained green all summer and 
then bloomed late summer-fall and then started looking a bit weary and I 
just wasn't sure what to do with it. I finally cut off one of those stems 
that had dried up and the plant put out new lush foliage. I'd be curious if 
some of these could be grown as evergreen plants. Do they need to lose 
their leaves or just do it because there is no rainfall?

The other one he sent me was P. echinatum which I also grew from Silverhill 
seeds. Andrew's plants have bloomed twice (blooming now) and are really 
pretty. I'll try to get a picture on the wiki. I had a hard time getting my 
seedlings from Silverhill to start growing again after they went dormant, 
but they still look alive.

The same was true for P. magentum seedlings (is this a tuberous one?) We 
saw that one in South Africa and it was a beauty. I also have some 
seedlings of P. barkeri from Silverhill Seeds last year that have made a 
tuber and one even started to bloom less than a year from seed, but kind of 
gave up quickly.

I agree with David that one of the interesting things about these plants 
are the leaves. The flowers are a bonus and the tuber often very 
fascinating as well. When I looked through the information on the wiki I 
was surprised to see the different times of year they bloom. I assumed they 
would all be spring flowering.

Mary Sue
Mary Sue Ittner
California's North Coast
Wet mild winters with occasional frost
Dry mild summers

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