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Pelargonium Or Geranium Often Confused !

Pelargonium or geranium, they are often confused! This is why I am going to tell you everything about pelargonium, its planting and maintena...

Pelargonium or geranium, they are often confused!

This is why I am going to tell you everything about pelargonium, its planting and maintenance. Why is it the top in phytotherapy, cosmetology and as a weed killer.

But, do you know it?

Generally a flowering, fragrant annual perennial plant, native to South Africa that grows in sunny climates.

And, this star of balconies, flowers from May to December and beautifies terrace, bed, border or garden.

Read the article: How to create a bright and perennial flower bed?

First of all, it is important not to confuse pelargonium and geranium.
Here is a distinctive criterion: of sub-tropical origin, unlike geranium, it does not tolerate frost and winters in a sheltered place.  Moreover, it is cultivated as an annual plant.
Namely that it is Mr. L'HĂ©ritier, a Frenchman to whom we owe its description.
As for this shrub, it has 10 stamens, 7 of which are anthered, as well as sepals of identical size and petals of different sizes.

In addition, its fruit resembles a stork beak (pelargos) and its seeds have hairy tendrils. On the other hand, a spur loaded with nectar rises above the upper petals.

Pelargonium Or Geranium Often

But do you know its history?

In the past, it landed in Europe in 1600 arriving from South Africa and around 1700 ivy pelargonium appeared in England.

Then came those of the large-flowered florists. Thanks to the ivy variety in 1820, it became a great popular success.
  • And, today there is even a National Collection of this plant in Bourges.
  • And, if we made a very condensed reminder of its varieties
Because, it is described in 270 species and I quote only the classification in 4 categories of certain botanists:
  • The zonal pelargoniums
  • The ivies
  • The other forms
  • Smellers
And, I'll tell you some species of pelargonium that are quite commonly found in trade:

Tricolor pelargonium

  • Tetragonum
  • Acetosum
  • Aridum
  • Mutans

Zonal Pelargonium

It is native to South Africa and calls itself 'straight' as opposed to ivy, which is said to fall back.

Perennial flowers, they grow like an annual and can't tolerate temperatures below 2°C. They have deciduous, green, rounded, lobed and slightly varnished leaves. They are planted in a well drained soil to avoid rot.

Pelargonium peltatum: perennial plant of bonsai type.

  • Hortorum: salmon-colored flowers.
  • Kisshes Seed house: black color
  • Admiration: red flowers, white heart
  • Nancy : double candy pink flower
  • Flower Fairy: double intense pink flower
  • Princess of Wales: red and white double flowers.


It is an odorous plant whose persistent foliage exhales a strong perfume of melissa. It is a shrub with cup-shaped leaves and its flowers are pink.

The fragrant Pelargonium

Pelargonium graveolens 

Perennial shrubby perennial of about 2 m with woody stump, with downy stems, which forms a branched bush. And, its evergreen leaves when crumpled exhale a scent of lemon pink.

The opposite leaves are downy, cordiform, lobed, indented with a wavy edge. It blooms from March to September with small flowers with 5 petals, gathered in bouquets of pale pink color.
  • The foliage and the flower are edible and its growth is fast.
  • And pelargonium citronellum mosquito repellent.
It is planted from April to June in a planting soil and watered copiously during the growing season. It is a shrub forming a compact perennial ball.

Its foliage is evergreen with herbaceous twigs at first, then lignifying with age.  In addition, its leaves and branches are covered with hairs. The leaf is webbed with united lobes at the base.

As for the flowers, they are pink with magenta marbling on two upper petals. And, it reaches 2 m high and has a strong lemongrass scent that repels mosquitoes, wasps and moths.
Or the capitalum
As for this variety, it is used to obtain an essential oil used as a substitute for the real essential oil of rose.

Namely that it is cultivated as a perennial by the sea. And its port stands on 40 cm and it spreads out up to 1.50 m.
  • Moreover, its tender stems and leaves give off a sweet and fragrant scent and its flowers form in summer.
  • Well, let's see how this pelargonium is planted and maintained.
  • In the spring and even in June, sowing is practiced. For this, the seeds are planted 1 cm deep, spaced 25 cm apart.  In fact, the emergence ready to plant occurs in 15 days.
Then, it is transplanted in March and April as soon as there is no more frost in a mixture of loam and fertile topsoil slightly wet.

Namely, it is an annual plant that can be put to rest during the winter under cover. It is enough to take it out in spring for repotting.

How do you repot? 

In general, pelargonium is repotted after autumn pruning by reducing the volume of the roots. And, it is transplanted into a slightly smaller pot so that new roots can form before winter.
As a result, it is more tolerant of repotting in the spring in a larger pot or in the ground.

What about watering?

Like all potted plants, it requires a lot of water.

Then what should be done to maintain it?  

Usually the easiest maintenance is to remove wilted flowers and dried leaves. As for the flowering to help it it is advisable to feed it with a special pelargonium fertilizer.

Predators of the pelargonium


If you observe grouped eggs on the leaves, they are eggs of lepidoptera whose caterpillar is known as gray green, plant-eating moths.

Namely that the gray caterpillars, rather large are active during the night, early morning and early evening. During the day, they hide at the foot of plants or in the heart of plants.

And, one observes several waves of attack in spring and autumn where they feed on leaves and flowers.

How to fight preventively

As a first intention, spray decoctions of pyrethrum, wormwood infusion or cade oil which act as repellents.
  • But if it is necessary to treat
  • For the moment, I only know how to care for young caterpillars with a spray of bacillus thuringiensis-based insecticide solution that is only effective on young caterpillars.


For they excrete a sticky, sweet substance, the honeydew, on which a powdery black mould develops. And, a massive infestation delays the growth of the plant; the leaves curl up and become deformed.


More small insects that sting the leaves causing corky oedemas that are manually removed.

Another solution is to brush a blue cardboard with glue; thrips love blue. Then hang this cardboard in your greenhouse or garden shed where you have isolated your diseased plants. The thrips automatically stick to the glue.

Whiteflies or whiteflies

They suck the sap from the plants and make the underside of the leaves sticky.

First action, watering the plants with a water jet destroys a good part of the whiteflies.

Another way, practice smoking 

To know that you have to isolate the sick plants in your cellar or shed. And, you must keep the oak leaves and make a provision for them.
  • Then, in your garden incinerator, light the fire and smother quickly to make a lot of smoke. Close your room tightly.
  • Unfortunately, these bugs reproduce very quickly, so you should take a first care in October, November and then smoke every three weeks.
This is a continuous treatment until you take the pots out in the spring because the smoke kills the adult insects but not the eggs. It is imperative that all plant waste is burned.

The brown of the pelargonium

Because of the green caterpillar with pink stripes that turns into a small brown butterfly. This insect often lays its eggs on ivy pelargonium, leaving behind zonals, odorants or other species.

To see if your plant is infested, you must inspect it thoroughly and manually remove the eggs. And, if the stems have a bulge, there is a caterpillar.

Sometimes they are in the buds and take their color because they have the art of camouflage.


Namely, it is a bacterium that causes the discoloration of leaves with light spots.

Pelargoniums often suffer from excess water.

Pelargonium edema

Due to a microscopic fungus mainly affecting ivy varieties and hybrids. The disease manifests itself in early spring and late fall.

And, the leaves are strewn with small light-coloured corky outgrowths. The plant no longer breathes, the affected parts become necrotic and form oedemas, small warts called intumescences.

Grandma's advice :

Never wet the leaves, always water only the soil at the foot of the plants. If the temperature drops, reduce the watering and water preferably in the morning. 

And rot

Excess water causes fungus and rot.

Or rust

This is one of the most common ailments because pelargonium is very sensitive, always due to excess water or too wet weather.

Pelargonium, a natural organic weedkiller

Why, is this plant a weedkiller? Because it contains pelargonic acid, an active element of phytosanitary products for weed control in organic agriculture.

Namely that this acid was first extracted from the species rosat and graveolens.

But pay attention to the associated products. Because to be organic, pelargonic acid can only be added to plants. 
  • On the other hand, this product can be handled with gloves and glasses because it causes a kind of dermatitis, black spots, which lasts more than three weeks.
  • But pelargonium is also a top plant in phytotherapy.
  • Pelargonium is a vulnerable plant from the Latin vulnerarius which designates what is suitable for healing wounds or injuries.
In fact, it has long been used for its many therapeutic properties because it is emollient, bactericidal, fungicidal and anti-inflammatory.

It is the pelargonium gravéolens which has these medicinal properties.

External use

It is a skin treatment for acne, eczema, stretch marks, couperose and irritated skin.
And, this same treatment soothes the pain of insect bites.

In infusion

It has an expectorant effect to relieve flu, colds, bronchitis and respiratory infections.

Recipe infusion: 20 gr of plant for 1 liter of boiling water. Let infuse 20 minutes and drink 3 cups per day. 

In herbal tea

This plant reduces the symptoms of angina and anti-inflammatory it relieves joint pain.
It has a role of relaxation in case of agitation, irritation because it is a psychic tonic, a tranquilizer which decreases the stress and which makes it possible to fall asleep easily.

And, it is a healing oil, hemostatic thanks to its composition of monoterpenic alcohols, esters and ketones.  In fact, it treats dermatitis, burns, acne ....
Recipe: apply the pure or diluted essential oil to the wound, injury or frostbite to help healing.
  • In addition, monoterpenic esters reduce muscle contractions.
  • In addition, the essential oil calms acute and chronic inflammation.
Monoterpenols, anti-infectious and antifungal, are powerful molecules that participate in the fight against bacteria, viruses and fungi.
  • And, the antioxidant components stimulate the natural defenses by limiting oxidative stress and aging.
  • In addition, the essential oil of pelargonium relieves colds.
  • Take 2 drops twice a day in honey between meals for 1 to 2 weeks on medical advice.
However, these treatments are not recommended for pregnant women and children under 6 years of age.

It helps to fight against fatigue, asthenia and stress.

In gargle

Pelargonium helps in the treatment of fungal infections of the throat, mouth and mouth ulcers.

Cuts, scrapes: apply a few sheets of previously crushed pelargonium to the area. Repeat three times a day. 

Antibacterial and healing, it treats wounds and superficial burns with poultices. To relieve hemorrhoidal pain put pelargonium poultices.
Recipe: put between two compresses some crushed sheets of pelargonium, apply, it calms the pain. 
And, pelargonium has virtues in cosmetology. 

Indeed, its benefits for irritated, oily and acne-prone skin are well established. Astringent and purifying, it is an excellent skin balancing agent.

Directions for use :

Spray the face morning and evening after cleansing with Geranium Hydrolat.

Finally, to conclude,

  • Pelargonium is a popular ornamental plant that has many varieties.
  • But it is not only a plant that flowers on our balconies. 
  • For it is also an organic plant weed killer and a leader in phytotherapy, cosmetology.

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