February 1, 2010

Potting up Geranium maderense,and more

The massive, and rarely seen Geranium maderense, which I had grown from seed last spring, is starting to mature. I am hoping that this impressive species blooms this spring. A tender species from Madeira, it is sometimes seen in older gardening books, and even grown at Christopher Lloyd Great Dixter at the entrance to the main house. This is s white form of the more common mauve, but what makes this plant so spectacular is it's floral display, producing a massive cluster of flowers which sits directly over the huge, palmate foliage, each head containing hundreds, of flowers. It may self seed in the ideal medeterraniean conditions of California, but in large containers in the north, it can make a stunning plant. Unfortunately, it is a biennial, and although it takes 2 years to bloom from seed, it will most likely die, in the third. Seeds of this white flowered strain, are costly, but can be obtained pre-chilled at Jeletto seeds in Germany ( they have a great website, and ship worldwide). Don't make the mistake I did, and plant your seeds in the greenhouse where it is cool, it took me 2 years to find out that the seeds germinate at temperatures above 80 deg. F. Once germinated, which was fast, within 2 weeks with these pre-treated seeds, they can then be moved to a cool, sunny spot aroung 50 degrees F.

Geranium maderense in its slightly more common color, a mauve form.

Geranium maderense repotted into a larger pot, in which it will most likely remain until after it blooms this spring.

A seedling of Lachenalia reflexa, grown from seed collected from a pot I had grown 5 years ago. These "Yellow Soldiers". as they are known in both South Africa where they are native, and in Australia, are now invasive weeds and the species is finding itself on many country's invasive seed list. Invasive species and the risk of introducing them is a real concern to you environment, but for me, here in the winter-cold areas of northern New England, this genus offers little risk. It does seem a little silly with my one plant, grown from 5 seeds that I saved from a bulb which I grew from a packet of wild collected seed, but the idea would not be silly if I lived in San Diego or Los Angeles. In Australia, some areas have the ground covered with thousand of these lachenalia speices. care must always be taken, I am not aware of this particular species being added to any American seed restriction list, yet, but I would imagine that it will be, soon.

Look, my first Robin of the year! We went out and bought meal worms today, after all, it's January.

A seedling of Cyclamen coum starts to bloom with tiny, cyclamen flowers.

...and yes, these cold, yet sunny January days offer little for the kids to do outside, although, and large Racoon grumbled across the lawn this afternoon, and Margaret and Fergus somehow got the sluggish creature stuck in a tree, along the edge of our yard, with some help from our Polish immigrant neighbors' German Shepard whose name we really don't know, for they call Lubby, or nubby, or buh-yay, we'll just call him Buddy. Ahh....a little excitement at last! Go, bubay, go! Atta boy.


  1. Glad to see this about G.maderense. I've been growing one in a large pot for the last three years, and still unfortunately, no blooms.
    Just read in Peter Yeos' Hardy Geraniums that it dies after blooming, so that might explain the longevity of my plant.
    Hope you will update on the progress of your plant. I'd love to see the white blooming form.

  2. Hey Matt...I also grew a G. maderense from seed when I worked at Ward's, it also never bloomed but got really huge and beautiful. It was fast & easy to germinate from seed and grew very fast.
    The photo of the mauve one is beautiful!

  3. Hey Matt...I also grew a G. maderense from seed when I worked at Ward's, it also never bloomed but got really huge and beautiful. It was fast & easy to germinate from seed and grew very fast.
    The photo of the mauve one is beautiful!

  4. Now I am nervous that my plants will not flower this year. All I can hope for is that they like the atmosphere of my colder greenhouse, like the other South African plants in there, maybe they will think that they are in South Africa and bloom? Time will tell!

    1. Anonymous4:32 PM

      Or Madeira in Portugal where they're from.

    2. Anonymous5:22 AM

      They are not South African, they are from the Portuguese island of Madeira.

  5. i live in central california on the coast. these geraniums are quite common here ... bloom in the second year, and die. but, they do send off many pups, which go on to grow all over the garden, again blooming in the second year. very striking and impressive!

  6. Louise4:37 PM

    I recently found G. maderense in the Annie's Annuals website anniesannuals.com. Bought the purple and white and within a month they are already over a foot across and doing very well. Planted in partial shade here near the coast in Central California. Will have to wait for the blooms, but the foliage is beautiful by itself.

  7. Anonymous2:31 PM

    I live in California in the SF Bay Area had one growing in a pot in our patio for over 5 years with no flower. The stalk from which the beautiful tropical looking leaves came from was over 2 feet tall. There was an issue with our drip system and the pot got too wet and caused the trunk to rot. I just got a new "baby" to start over with, and I actually hope it doesn't flower so it can grow huge and never die.

  8. Anonymous5:34 PM

    These plants are so beautiful! Ours is starting to bloom now and it is fun to watch the process.
    Does anyone know-do the flowers start off white and turn the purplish color?


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