Pelargonium cordifolium (Cav.) Curt.
Common names: heart-leaved pelargonium
Pelargonium cordifolium is a spreading, branched aromatic shrub, reaching a height of more than 1.5 metres.
This attractive pelargonium flowers from June to January with a peak in September (spring). The flowers are borne in a branched inflorescence terminating in several (4-8) flowered umbel-like groups. The two upper petals of the flower are much larger than the three lower ones. The upper petals are usually pink or purple with darker purple veins. The lower petals are lighter in colour.
The main stem of Pelargonium cordifolium is woody at the base, while the side branches are herbaceous and covered with hairs of variable density. It has beautiful foliage.
Three varieties have been recognised on the basis of leaf characteristics. One of the varieties featured in the Kirstenbosch Garden has distinctly red stems and very attractive foliage with glabrous (smooth and free from hair) leaves.
Distribution and habitat
Pelargonium cordifolium occurs mainly near the coast in the Western and Eastern Cape, from the Bredasdorp area eastwards to King William's Town. It usually grows in rather moist places in fynbos or at the margins of forests, or even in forests.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Pelargonium derives its name from the resemblance of the shape of the fruit to the beak of a stork, pelargos in Greek. Cordifolium refers to the heart-shaped (cordate) leaves which may be flat or curled.
Growing Pelargonium cordifolium
P. cordifolium is best propagated by means of cuttings. Tip cuttings are best taken in late summer/autumn. The base of the cutting should be just below a leaf node. Remove all the lower leaves. Dip the base of the cutting into a rooting hormone powder and plant in clear, coarse river sand. A container 150 mm in depth is ideal. Place cuttings in light shade. By early spring the cuttings will be well rooted and ready to be planted out in a well-drained soil mixture.
Plant Type: Shrub
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape, Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy, Loam
Flowering season: Spring, Early Summer, Winter
Flower colour: Purple, Pink
Aspect: Full Sun, Morning Sun (Semi Shade), Afternoon Sun (Semi Shade)
Gardening skill: Easy