If you can grow great Cacti then you can grow these marvelous varieties.
Most of the Species Pelargoniums are native to Africa. Some grow in arid regions clinging to life in the
crevice of a rock, others are deciduous and some are found in the dense vegetation of subtropical environments. These native Pelargoniums are so very diverse, some have vicious thorns and others with leaves nearly 18 inches across.
Many of the plants store food and water in their bulbous trunks and branches while others rely on tubers or tuberous roots to survive. Plants that are native to the southern hemisphere demand special attention. Remember, when it’s Fall here it is Spring in Africa.
Plants are awakening and beginning to burst into flower and you must follow their southern time table for them to survive. In many cases, this requires withholding water during their normal late Fall to Winter season which would correspond to our late Spring and Summer.
A good number of the varieties are deciduous and will lose their leaves before blooming and becoming dormant. To be successful at growing most of the Pelargonium Species a good knowledge of growing ‘Cacti 101’ is a prerequisite. You will need to know your varieties special needs as ones native to the subtropical areas may be happy with your regular geranium soil mix.
Certain varieties become dormant and take their siestas very seriously. During this time it is important to stop watering the plant and store it in a somewhat shaded cool area. After vigorous growth the leaves begin to wither and dry, it’s the signal to reduce the watering with only the smallest amount being applied at infrequent intervals.
Flower buds now emerge and stop all watering and watch the show as the bloom peaks. Leave the dry foliage and spent blooms and store the plant. The dormant period starts in late April and lasts until late September. Some of the plants may show green growth buds forming but be firm and hold off watering.
The wake up call comes in late September when it is time to begin watering and renew the growth cycle. Apply only a little water at first to hydrate the plant and once the leafy growth is abundant can you resume normal watering practices.
These ‘Specimens ’were made by Mother Nature to be on display. Find the perfect container that compliment the plant and add pebbles and rocks. Potting soil mixes consist largely of straight
Cacti mix to a blend of Cacti mix and ground pumice. I use a 50% blend of each. To keep the plant extra healthy and happy I fertilize once a month during the growing season with a greatly diluted liquid fertilizer, remember, your mix is largely sand and gravel.
And here is that reminder again, do not over water, let the soil mix go almost dry before watering and make sure you have adequate drain holes in the container.
You know the drill by now.