In the nursery we find dozens of varieties of botanical geraniums, which we choose for our terrace, practically all the plants we bring home are hybrid varieties or cultivars, created over the years to have large flowers, with particular colors, vigor in development, or other interesting features.
We often forget that many dozens of species belong to the genus Pelargonium, found in nature only in Africa, no less decorative than the more common hybrid geraniums.
A good part of these species are very particular, presenting various stages of succulence, fragrant foliage, of inconsistent size; among the various species, however, there are particularly beautiful or interesting ones, also for the cultivation in pots on the terrace.
It is also often the case that some botanical species are less "picky" than their hybrid cousins, and can therefore be grown more successfully, even in the garden.
Also called rose odor geranium, this pelargonium was among the first to be cultivated commercially: its foliage contains very high amounts of geraniol and other aromatic oils, and is still used today to extract essential oils used in cosmetics and industry.
It has a beautiful dark green foliage, slightly fleshy and leathery, rough to the touch, which gives off an intense aroma if crumpled between the fingers; seems to be a good help to keep mosquitoes away from homes, as these insects don't like the smell of geraniol.
The flowers bloom sporadically, during the summer, are of a lilac color, often with a dark purple throat.
The shrub is broad and vigorous, and in areas with a mild climate it is easily naturalized even in the open ground, in a warm and sunny corner of the garden.
There are also hybrids of this botanical species, generally with foliage with particular aromas: from lemon to cinnamon, from nutmeg to rose.
A geranium suitable for use as a ground cover in shaded flowerbeds, the large leaves with a velvety appearance are covered with a thin down, which sometimes makes them almost silvery; if you rub the leaves of this geranium emit a very strong aroma of mint.
The flowers are small, not particularly showy, it is generally cultivated more for the foliage than for the flowering.
Perhaps the ancestor of the macranta botanical geraniums, also called imperial, produces large masses of rough and dark, non-aromatic foliage, and is filled in spring with large pink flowers; also naturalized in Italy and in most of the Mediterranean, it is a species not particularly rustic, suitable for dry and sunny areas.
As the name implies, this geranium has large leaves, similar in shape to those of the vine, of smaller dimensions; in spring it produces large bright pink flowers.
It is cultivated like the zonali, in place with a few hours of direct sunlight a day, watering only when the soil is well dry.
A geranium with a succulent, thick and fleshy stem, which becomes semi-woody in the lower part. the flowers are pink or yellow.
It is cultivated in a sunny place and fears frost, especially when accompanied by high humidity.
As with other succulents, even this pelargonium can easily withstand periods of drought that are also very prolonged, and it prefers well-lit, even sunny locations; generally it is cultivated in pots, so that it can be moved in a cold greenhouse during the coldest months of winter.
Botanical Geraniums: Pelargonium echinatum
Geranium with a succulent stem, has a beautiful dark green foliage, with the upper page covered with a thin white hair; in spring it produces a mass of foliage and small white flowers, gathered in umbrellas.
These geranium completely loses the foliage if the temperature is too low.
It is grown in a sunny and warm place, in winter it needs to be picked up in a cold greenhouse or at home.