Thursday, October 9, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Pelargonium tomentosum

My favorite plant this week is an old standby, Pelargonium tomentosum, commonly known as peppermint geranium.  What's not to love?  It's soft and velvety - very touchable.  It has a delightful scent.  It spreads to form a lovely groundcover but it's not aggressive.  It roots easily, allowing me to establish new plants when I need them.  It tolerates a degree of dryness in the shade.  It even flowers.




I have the plant scattered in various spots on the south side of the house.  Although I've tried it in full sun, it does better in partial shade here, where it can get very hot during the summer months.  In its native habitat in South Africa it flourishes in moist sandy soil but I've found it to be moderately drought tolerant here.




It's a low-growing spreader, reaching 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) tall and 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) wide at maturity but it's easy to keep smaller with some judicious trimming.  I've propagated it using softwood cuttings but it's also easy to root in water.  It grows quickly and requires little in the way of maintenance but it's considered to be hardy only to 32F (0C), which means that it requires over-wintering indoors in colder climates than mine.

It's bright emerald color meshes well with other plants.

Here it mixes with Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata,' thyme, and Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid'

Here it borders Coprosma 'Plum Hussey' with the dwarf form of Helichrysum petiolare popping up in places



Pelargonium tomentosum is my contribution to Loree's weekly favorite plants post at danger garden.  Visit her to see her favorite this week and to find links to other gardeners' selections.


All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

25 comments:

  1. I do love tactile plants. Like Stachys it just invites anyone to stoop down and touch it.

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    1. And it leaves your hands with a fresh scent too!

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  2. Dear Kris, I got a plant grown from a cutting from a friend, who didn't know its name. The leaves looks exactly like yours and it also has a peppermint smell, so I think you identified it for me ;-)! I still have it in a container, but want to plant it out soon, so it is good to know that it should go into partial shade. I really like the lushness and softness that it brings to the garden. It is rare to find a plant, which is doing that in our hot and dry climate. I love the way you combined it with red foliage plants in the last photo. Brilliant! Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. I'm glad I was able to help you identify the plant, Christina. Partial shade is definitely better in our climate - I still have a few planted in a sunnier setting but they're struggling and will be moved (one of these days).

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  3. Because it dies back to the ground here in winter (or worse) I always take cuttings , and keep a small pot of it in the house over winter --convenient for touching !

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    1. I have to find spots for more of them, Kathy. They do root easily.

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  4. And it looks so fresh and bright, a bit of spring in your non-spring like climate.

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    1. Whereas a lot of plants are clearly burnt and brown now, these do indeed seem a sign of spring, Loree.

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  5. An extremely useful plant in your conditions by the sounds of things Kris. The leaf reminds me a bit of Geranium renardii.

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    1. Pelargoniums are in the same family, Angie. The flowers aren't as splashy as those of G. renardii, unfortunately.

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  6. It is so easy to take for granted those reliable performers in the garden ! I love all my geraniums for being so easy going and flexible ! What on earth would we do without them !

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    1. I wish the true geraniums did as well for me here as they did in my former garden, Jane. They're wonderful groundcovers.

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  7. Very nice, Kris. For two years now I've been growing a 'Filbert' Pelargonium. The foliage isn't remarkably fragrant but I love the deep, rosy-pink blossoms. Last year I mistakenly left it outside and it died. I will not let that happen this year!

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    1. How did I instinctively know that P. 'Filbert' must have pink flowers?! I hope you're successful in over-wintering it this year, Grace.

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  8. I love Pelargoniums with fragrant leaves. I have to keep this in a pot here but it gets very leggy, I love the luxuriant way it grows outside in your garden.

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    1. Perhaps the dry soil here keeps mine from running away, Chloris.

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  9. I never used to like the scent of geraniums, until I used a geranium scented hand wash of a friend's - now I love it, not sure why. I need to incorporate some scented, drought tolerant plants in to my garden like this one!

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    1. This one's just moderately drought tolerant, Amy - and it needs shade. Some of the other scented geraniums (actually classified as Pelargoniums) are more drought and sun tolerant.

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  10. I also have to grow this Pelargonium in a pot and take it into the greenhouse if it gets very cold. It looks so good in your garden maybe I should just take masses of cuttings and then plant in different areas of the garden to see how it survives. Check my post today about a possible reason why I shouldn't!

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    1. Your cutting beds are very full but surely you could squeeze in a little Pelargonium?!

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  11. I love plants with soft leaves, and with fragrant leaves. Sounds very nice!

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    1. It's a wonderful plant, sweetbay. I'm not sure I'd grow it if I had to haul it inside every winter but it's easy to start from cuttings.

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  12. What a treat to see scented geraniums growing as perennials. I can only grow them in pots that we have to bring in before the cold weather sets in. Look at yours grow Kris!

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    1. Sometimes I forget how different my climate is, Donna. I'm sure that hauling plants inside every winter would get old fast.

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  13. OK now here we are. As a maker of "gifty" type succulent planters, I am learning more about their care. TONS of good info here, thank you!

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