Sunday, June 1, 2014

Erodium reichardii 'Flore Pleno'

Erodium reichardii 'Flore Pleno' syn. Erodium x variabile (Gerinaceae)

Native habitat: Limestone cliffs, Cap de Formentor, Spain

It is at this time of year that I pay most attention to the propagation, by division, of species Geraniums. After late summer and autumn dormancy they spring back to life during short cooler days and start to produce new foliage and the first flower buds which will carry them through to a peak of flowering in a few months time. Congested clumps with their long swollen roots can be teased apart and those tipped with a rosette of leaves can be potted on. The roots themselves often have dormant buds and may send up new shoots if placed in a tray and re-covered with potting soil. Even the Australian species Pelargonium rodneyanum and the un-named Western Australian P. 'Mallee Magic' are propagated in this way at this time of year.
As I am fascinated by miniature thumbnail sized flowers, as much as big blousey ones, this Erodium fits the bill when it comes to the former flower size. It is a variable species and flowers may be white, pale pink and double or semi double.The dark pink stripes on the petals enhance the pink ones, hence 'Roseum' is sometimes tacked onto the botanical name. Cultivar names include 'Charm' and 'Pink Galaxy'. The original white flowering species was named by Swedish botanist Johan Andreas Murray (1740-1791) (he of Murraya paniculata) for his German mate and fellow plant hunter Dr Johann Jakob Reichard (1743-1782). 'Die schonsten arbenteuer in Deutschland' before Reichard died young of TB. Both worked out of Gottingen Botanic Garden.
This is a great plant for a rock garden or scree bed of 'alpines', where the term alpines refers to small rock hugging or scrambling plants and not necessarily a cold climate. I like to grow plants such as this in small flat troughs topped with a gravel mulch, ideally limestone chips for best growth. Bonsai pots are ideal for this. As it is a fairly tough little plant, not demanding of water or fertilizer, it will tolerate moderate frost but during the full heat of summer it is best moved to a shady location and given a rest until it comes to life again when the weather cools down.

the 'macro'

A way to go before it fills out this pot.
Just potted Pelargonium rodneyanum

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