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Geranium Still Popular

Just received this picture of the newest geraniums from Calliope Geraniums. [below]

This image caps a long history of this plant, often called pelargonium.

Garden historian Judith Taylor in her book Visions of Loveliness says, “In 1863 [French flower breeder] Victor Lemoine led the way in transforming the pelargonium into a brilliant and proud bedding plant of arresting hues.”

The 1880 catalog from the Rochester, New York seed company owner James Vick offered dozens of geraniums for sale.


Neil Kingbury in his book Garden Flora claims there are approximately 280 species of the pelargonium or geranium.

He says, “Two species are found in Turkey, eight in Australasia, and eighteen in East Africa, the fast majority are South African.”

The garden geranium or zonal geranium was introduced in 1710.

It is both the leaves and the colorful flower that make this plant a favorite even to this day.

The Victorians used this flower in carpet beds on the lawn and in containers as well.

Vick wrote in his catalog for 1880 “Perhaps no class of plants is more generally cultivated by the American people than the Geraniums.

“Certainly do we find none which is adapted to so many useful purposes.”

One advantage in the garden is that the geranium lasts from June to November.


Growers continue to offer newer versions of the pelargonium or geranium.

Taylor says “Many millions of zonal pelargoniums are sold each year.”

Logee’s new catalog, however, features an old nineteenth century variety called Mrs. Cox.

The catalog says, “One of the most beautiful fancy leaved geraniums ever created. Originating in 1879, this tricolor, is known for having five or more colors ranging from yellows to greens, reds, orange and maroon.

” In the brightest times of the year it will produce salmon colored blooms which accent the handsome foliage.” [below]

‘Mrs. Cox’ Geranium [Courtesy of Select Seed]

Perhaps Vick had this geranium variety in mind when he wrote in 1880, “There have been improvements in this class of plants in the last few years, both in color and form of the flowers, and in brilliancy of foliage.”

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