Stitcher for Podcasts

Get the App Open App
Bummer! You're not a
Stitcher Premium subscriber yet.
Learn More
Start Free Trial
$4.99/Month after free trial

Show Info

Episode Info

Episode Info:

Things we talk about in the episode:

Why we love pelargoniums

scent of leaves

musky stringent smell

bad breath

tomato foliage

the easiness of them

Fibrex nurseries

The National Collection of Pelargoniums

Heather’s growing history

Learning about pelargoniums, ferns and ivies

The difference between pelargoniums and geraniums

Family: Geraneacae

Same family, different genus:

Genus: Pelargonium (southern hemisphere, tender, succulent or woody shrubs)

Genus: Geranium (northern hemisphere, cranesbill. Hardy, herbaceous perennial)

You can’t hybridise between the two - most definitely two different things!

Geranium for pelargonium is WRONG because it’s misleading

If you can’t say pelargonium, just call them pellies

Pelargoniums are really tough in the right environment

Replicate SA in the UK

Loam based, open, free draining compost

Water management

Good light, even over winter

No darkness, no dinginess

In England that’s difficult, but not impossible

Good airflow

In a cool environment - Strip off a lot of the leaves which they don’t need because they’re not growing and you’re not watering.

Zonals, decoratives, uniques, scenteds can have majority of leaves lower down taken off, leaving just the growing tip

Gets rid of mildew, mould, botrytis etc at the same time - bonus!

Allows good airflow which is essential

Keeping pelargoniums indoors as houseplants

Avoid a kitchen or bathroom environment - too damp

Sitting room, living room, porch, 

Close to window or on windowsill. 

Natural daylight - doesn’t have to be direct sunlight


Tomato feed like Tomorite

First feed of season should be a balanced feed but otherwise Tomorite as soon as you see fresh young growth


Zonal pelargoniums are still used for bedding - can look stunning

Key is to mass-plant with just one colour. Colour match with neighbouring plants

Key group within zonals: Bold series - good chunky, strong growing with short stems and lots of flowers which are shatter-proof.

Use decorative, uniques and scented for gap-filling too!

Attar of roses, Grey Lady Plymouth in a mixed border - 

Chocolate peppermint and Tomentosum at Wisley - looked amazing


Potting compost magic formula; John Innes no. 2 and multi-purpose compost half and half

Re-pot in spring and you don’t need to feed for a month because of JI 

You cant over-feed a pellie!

Feed every time you water

If you want to get flowers like you see in the shows then you have to feed them! They’re on steroids

Pinching out.

Young cuttings - single stem. Once rooted and growing, pinch out top leaf and newest bud. Leaving a couple of live axils below means it will start to branch out. It’s not about height, it’s about body.

Keep pinching out

Fibrex takes cuttings in August through to April. The pinching out happens throughout, until February. From buds, flowers will appear in six weeks. Pinching out is instinctive and takes practice, but not a lot of time if you’ve got a few pots outside the door.

Dead heading.

Pelargoniums LOVE to flower. If you take off the untidy ones it will grow more as soon as possible. If you leave them, the plant slows down.

Heather deadheads every plant, every week - LOTS of work! Not so for a few pots.

Snap bottom of flower stem between fingers and it will come off naturally



Prepare your pot, 9 -12 cm Sterile seed compost and perlite or grit for drainage, Pat mixture down and saturate with water. Take cuttings, 2 inches at most depending on variety. Heather takes tip cuttings with one or two leaf nodes. Strip bottom leaves off, leaving growing tip and a couple of leaves at top. After 4-5 days give another drink. 5-10 cuttings in a 9cm pot. Cuttings really do like company. Heather pushes her cuttings straight in - no dibber and no rooting hormone.

Heather likes to keep the leaves touching in the nursery.

Leaving pelargoniums in pots over winter

Start in September to prepare them by feeding them with a general purpose feed

Stops them from flowering. Take a third off in Autumn and strip the leaves. Re-pot in spring with fresh compost, fluffing up the roots. Water in lightly. After a couple of weeks, general feed and then put outside. Night temps should be around five degrees - leave till mid may or end of may. 

If you want them to continue flowering in a conservatory then just keep feeding tomato food.

Windowsill with radiator is fine as they like a dry environment

Best are dwarves and miniatures for permanent flowering as they won’t outgrow their space.

Other overwintering ideas:

Hanging the upside-down. Used to be done. It’s a bit extreme and not entirely necessary.  You can leave in the compost just ease off on the watering.

Pests and diseases. 

The whitefly clap. 

Use invigorators rather than insecticides. SB invigorator gives the plant extra and has ammonia which whitefly hate. 

Good for spider mite too. Spidermite like dry environments 

Greenfly like the soft young growth. Squish.

Pelargonium starter-kit for newbies

Scented: Attar of Roses. The gorgeousness of it!

Decorative: Ashby. Strong, easy, free-flowering, big and beautiful, and EARLY.

Specie: Austral. From Tasmania. Borderline hardy. Dark green, with delicate white flowers

Pellie cake. 

What makes a lemon smell like a lemon?

Pelargoniums have over 120 volatile chemicals in the leaves. Hence the huge variety of scents and flavours

Best houseplant pelargonium: Fragrans because of fresh fragrance and height. Delicate, pretty, delightful.

fibrexnurseries on twitter and instagram

May 1st national collection is open free of charge, but you can visit whenever you like.

Pellie party! Smelly pellie jelly! Turn up!

Links, Plants and important stuff we mention:

Zonal Bold series

Attar of Roses

Grey Lady Plymouth

Chocolate Pepperming


Tomorite tomato food

SB invigorator

Heather’s top three for beginners:

Attar of Roses



Houseplant favourite: Fragrans

Fibrex Pellie Party

Read more »

Discover more stories like this.

Like Stitcher On Facebook


Episode Options

Listen Whenever

Similar Episodes

Related Episodes