Pelargonium, fancy-leaved

Gold-leaf zonal Pelargonium

Variegated or fancy-leaved Pelargonium specimens are a subgroup of what are usually called 'zonal geraniums'. They have decorative scallop-edged leaves that are banded, edged or splotched with colours including red, yellow, white and brown; some have bronze or even black foliage, and my favourites have golden leaves with dark markings. There are also plain gold-leaved cultivars and minature-leaf forms. Like all Zonal Hybrid Pelargonium, they are derived from South African species and do best in a sunny spot with well-drained, light soil. They do best if the tips are massed effectively as a low hedge at the front of a sunny border. They grow to around 50 cm though there are some lower-growing ones, including a pretty white-variegated one.

Fancy-leaved Pelargonium specimens

They dislike our summer humidity and it seems best to take cuttings to replace the parent plant every few years. Their foliage seems at its very best in winter and the golden forms create a pool of warm colour to cheer up the garden at this time. These can also grow quite well in light shade, though they may become leggy in such a position. The flowers often clash horribly with the leaves so I usually remove these at the bud stage. Prune them back at the end of spring to allow lots of regrowth before winter. Propagation is by stem cuttings.

Flowers in September, October, November, December.

 Out now in my Sydney Garden.