Pelargoniums, My Way

Speaker: Roger Butler
Date: 29th January
Year: 2020

Before Roger’s talk, our Chairman Liam remembers Geoff Tanton, who died in January aged 90. He was a keen gardener, a long time member of the Society, Committee Member and Show Manager for many years.


Roger in full flow about to demonstrate how to take cuttings


Roger began by giving us a short résumé of his life in horticulture. He worked at one point on the Duke of Wellington Estate.Now grows plants and organizes Flower Shows, in particular the prestigious Swallowfield two day Show which has received the Queen’s Award for Volunteers. He also acts as a judge for Flower Shows.

He reminded us that Pelargoniums are half hardy or semi tender unlike the true geranium which is hardy. Thus Pelargoniums must be carefully prepared if they are to survive the winter.

Cut the plant right back in Autumn to 2” stems just above a leaf joint to over-winter, in a light, frost free environment with good airflow, water sparingly and remove all leaves.

Take plenty of cuttings, make a clean cut above a leaf node and trim below.

Root into Jiffy -7 peat pellets or very small pots in potting compost, or a large pot with a transparent central former so the roots can be observed when they come through.

No need for hormonal rooting powder or plastic bags and with bottom heat they should root in 2/3 weeks  Label with date.

Roger then went on to describe tequniques for potting on. Don’t use large pots, do use good potting compost such as Sylvagrow or multi purpose compost mixed with vermiculite, feed four weeks after rooting first with a high nitrogen feed then high potash.

Use rain water and water and feed at the same time, water from below, have the water and feed already made up.

Test by weight to start watering. In the summer water every other day.  Keep potting on, give pots ¼ turn when watering.

In the Green House – line with bubble wrap and cover shelves and benches with chicken wire to avoid slippages. Have a heater and frost detector, keep at 2/3 oC

Look out for disease, eg – Rust (remove all leaves and dispose of);  Oedema (due to over watering, appears as blisters on leaves); Black leg (caused by several species of the water mold Pythium) and Vine Weevil.

We were then treated to a colourful slide show of different types of Pelargoniums, including Miniatures; Dwarfs; Standards; Zonals; Regals; Angels; Ivy Leaf; Variegated Leaf; Stellar; Australe and Lemon Scented and how prepare plants to exhibit as Show Plants.

Rogers talk gave us a good insight into the successful care, propagation and exhibiting of one of our most  popular garden plants.

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