Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Most gardeners are likely familiar with the ubiquitous flowering geraniums that are seen during the summer months, but their succulent relatives arenít as well known.
The succulent geraniums are native to Africa. They bloom during the spring and summer with flower colors being somewhat typical of flowering geraniums. These will usually be red, pink, or white. In addition, there are a few purples and creams as well. Letís look at a few of these species.
Several of these species are known simply as succulent geranium. Among these is Pelargonium crithmifolium. Native to Africa, this succulent geranium is noted for its succulent stems. About eight inches in height, it has stems that are somewhat spreading. The very small narrow, finely cut foliage is greenish-gray. Emerging mostly in clusters from the top of the stems, this is deciduous.
This plant has typical geranium blossoms, which in this case are white. They are composed of small narrow petals with a red dot. These open in rounded clusters.
Pelargonium dasycaulon is native to South Africa. This is a shrubby little plant with stout stems. The foliage is very full and dense. Very finely cut, the leaves have deep lobes. The cream and colored blooms open in small, wispy clusters. Borne well above the foliage, these occur on tall flower stalks. The narrow petals have a small red dot in the center. During its rest period, this species tends to shed its foliage. Easy to grow, this is considered an excellent houseplant.
Cactus geranium (Pelargonium echinatum)
Native to South Africa, this is also known as sweetheart geranium. With an almost shrub-like growth habit, this can reach 1Ĺ feet in height. What is particularly notable about the cactus geranium is the cactus-like growths that resemble spines. These are found on the succulent stems.
Cactus geranium has deciduous foliage that is shed when the plant enters its rest period. Greenish-gray with hairs on the underside, the leaves are lobed like that of other geraniums. This can be over three inches in length.
Very free flowering, the cactus geranium has lovely white geranium-like blossoms. Reddish-brown marks appear on the petals in the form of a cross.