Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pelargonium tetragonum--and how what goes around comes around!

I collected this nice purple flowered form of P. tetragonum from a garden near Gaborone Botswana way back in 1984, during my first trip to southern Africa. I maintained it for many years, and in the greenhouses at Cornell it flowered magnificently during spring. To get the huge four petalled flowers requires cool greenhouse culture in the north since it requires a cool period with short days to set flower buds. I also took the plant to the NY Botanic Garden when I worked there, but somewhere along the way I lost my plant. Later on, I ended up caring for someone's orchids and other plants while he was away for an extended period in Florida, to which he enventually moved. It turned out he had a small plant of my P. tetragonum, given to him by my friend Elena who grew it for a time in a NYC apartment, but then gave it to him. I got a small cutting back, and now maintain several plants of it. Although I am unlikely to get flowers under my indoor growing conditions at the moment, it is just about the easiest thing to grow and propagate. It is a rather sprawling plant, but stems are brittle and break easily when the plant is moved or otherwise disturbed, providing a ready means of further increase. Although it comes from the winter rainfall areas of the Cape of South Africa, it does not seem to mind summering outdoors, and even grows some more during what should normally be its off season. It grows well under lights too. I have another form growing from seed, and it too is an easy grower. Its a good subject for those who like wierd, though it needs to grow large and get the cool/short day treatment to get the fabulous flowers to appear.

1 comment:

orchidgrrl nyc said...

Glad the plant's doing so well! I was amazed I kept it alive for so long UNDER LIGHTS when so many other things croaked under those conditions...a really cool plant, I hope you're able to pass along many cuttings again!