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Rasp-leaved Pelargonium

Pelargonium radens

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The Pelargonium radens is a rose-scented herbaceous shrub which flowers in abundance. This relatively short-lived plant naturally occurs in the southern and eastern Cape of South Africa along streams and in kloofs. It is used by gardeners as a decorative garden plant and is the one of the parent plants for the rose-scented geranium which is used in many essential oils. Not only does it function as an ornamental plant but it also has medicinal and culinary applications.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Spring, Summer
Fruiting time
Summer

Harvesting

Seeds are available directly after flowering (Summer-Autumn). Allow seed heads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds. Harvesting of leaves is done 3 to 4 times per year. Actual time of harvesting is dependent on the stage of plant growth and the scent of crushed leaves. Harvesting is done by hand and should only be done on a dry day.

Propagation

Seed
Sow the seeds in well-drained potting soil. Sowing time is early autumn. Sowing depth is one-and-a-half times the size of the seed. Water thoroughly and provide light. Germination in 3 weeks.
Cuttings
Use semi-mature stem cuttings, apply a rooting hormone, and insert into a prepared hole. Keep moist. Rooting takes around 3 weeks.

Special features

Pot plant
Can be grown in various containers and window boxes provided sufficient drainage holes.
Indoor plant
Suitable for growing indoors and can be used as a houseplant.
Drought resistant
Drought tolerant once well established and suitable for xeriscaping.
Repels harmful insects
The dried leaves are used as insect-repellent.

Geography

Origin
South Africa, Southern and Eastern Cape.
Natural climate
Mediterranean

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Loam, Sand, Clay, Gravel
Soil PH preference
Alkaline, Neutral
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Medicinal
All parts of the plant are astringent. The fresh leaves are used externally as a rub for aching feet or legs.
Edible
Traditionally the edible leaves were used as a flavoring in jellies and in herbal teas. An essential oil extracted from the leaves and flowers is used commercially as a food flavoring and additive.
Insect repellant
Mosquitoes, flies and horseflies can't bear the smell of any scented geraniums, rub the leaves and sprigs onto counter tops and windowsills, over blankets and pillows to keep these pests away.

Personality

Family
Geraniaceae
Flower colour
, Pink, Purples
Scent
Strong

Problems

Pests include aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, japanese beetles, thrips, snails or slugs, vine weevil, cyclamen mite and mealy bugs. Diseases include bacterial blight, Geranium rust (Puccinnia Pelargonii-zoralis) and fungi Fusarium, Pythium, Botrytis, Verticillium and Lasiodiplodia, as well as grey mold.

Companion plants

Plant next to cabbages to repel the white cabbage butterfly. Edge your vegetable garden with any of the scented geraniums, their wonderful scent will lure insects away from the fruit and vegetables.
Cabbage
Cabbage
Brassica oleracea var. capitata

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