Species Pelargoniums
Gardens Illustrated|October 2017

Species plants and primary hybrids have a delicacy that is far removed from the blowsy blooms normally associated with the Pelargonium genus

John Hoyland

Gardeners are always on the lookout for something new. Every year ‘improved’ forms of old favourites or strange hybrids in unexpected colours are introduced. In the rush for novelty, species plants, the wild ancestors of garden hybrids, are often overlooked. When I was taking my first, tentative, steps down the gardening path in the 1970s, I remember a nurseryman asking why I would be in interested in species plants, which were all ‘dull and weedy’, when I could have colourful modern hybrids. Had I been more articulate (and know what I now know) I would have replied that species plants have a robustness often lacking in their descendants and that their simple flowers have an elegance lost in breeding hybrids. In the past couple of decades garden designers have also realised that species plants combine well with other plants to create a more natural look in the garden.

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