Why you should be growing the delicate, scented pelargonium

Clare Foster meets Ursula Key-Davis of Fibrex Nurseries, home to the UK’s National Collection of pelargoniums, and finds out about the best varieties and how to grow them

Pelargonium ‘Lawrenceanum’ has night-scented flowers


How to grow pelargoniums

Pelargoniums are tender perennials that need to be brought inside during the winter, so they are good candidates for growing in containers. Flowering from June until the first frosts, they can also be used as summer bedding plants. ‘Most pelargoniums are easy to grow, but you mustn’t over-water them,’ says Ursula. If growing them in pots, plant them into multipurpose compost and feed every few weeks with high-potash liquid feed, deadheading when needed. In September or October, bring into a cool, dry place and cut back by half. ‘At this stage, you can almost stop watering them,’ advises Ursula. ‘You may need to water once or twice over winter, but that’s it.’

The pelargonium collection is open to the public each year from May to September. Whether it is the scented-leaf types that entice you, or the delicate flowers of the species plants, or the classic zonal pelargoniums, you will come away with a new passion. And because they are easy to propagate from cuttings, your collection will soon be bursting out of your greenhouse or conservatory in a very satisfying way.

Fibrex Nurseries sells pelargoniums by mail-order from March to September, but due to unprecedented demand this year, they have run low on many varieties. For details, visit fibrex.co.uk.