Pelargonium quercifolium

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Botanical Name
Pelargonium quercifolium
Geraniaceae - The geranium family.
pe-lar-GO-nee-um kwer-sih-FOE-lee-um
Common Name(s)
English: Oak-leaved pelargonium
Afrikaans: Muishondbos
Plant Group
  • Perennial A plant whose life cycle lasts for three or more seasons.
  • Shrub A woody plant of relatively low height, having several stems arising from the base and lacking a single trunk; a bush.
Plant Size
  • Medium
    Tree10m to 16m
    Shrub1m to 2m
    Perennial/ground cover40cm to 60cm
    Bulb40cm to 60cm
    Succulent40cm to 60cm
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Fragrant / Aromatic These plants posses a strong, usually pleasant odour.
  • Frost: Half-hardy The plant is able to survive low temperatures and some frost but requires protection against severe frost.
  • Prune hard after flowering Fast growing shrubs that grow lanky within a season. Cut off branches and stems of these plants to a third of their original length. This will increase the yield of flowers, improve the plants shape and enhance the structural strength of main branches.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
Specific Information

Pelargonium quercifolium is an erect, branched shrub with oak-like foliage with a strong scent of balm. It appears to be particularly resistant to disease and insect pests. The young stems of pelargoniums are green and soft but become woody when mature.

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two upper petals with darker markings and three lower petals, unmarked

  • All Year Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • Spring to Summer Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • pink
  • magenta
Growth Rate
  • Moderate to Fast Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Accent or Focal Point A plant used to attract the attention because of its colour or form.
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Border A strip of ground, at the edge of a driveway or path in which ornamental plants or shrubs are planted.
  • Boundary A plant useful for planting around the edges of the property to form a green or colourful backdrop, an impenetrable hedge, to hide walls or create privacy.
  • Container Trees, shrubs and ornamental species that can adapt to growing in a restricted environment.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Mass Planting Plants useful for filling a large area with just one or a few kinds of plants spaced close together. Creates a bold, dramatic effect and to reduces maintenance.
  • Pioneer for new gardens A very fast growing plant, able to withstand hardship, that can be used to populate land that has recently been cleared of natural vegetation. These plants pave the way for slower-growing species by adding nutrients to the soil and creating leaf litter.
  • Rock Garden An area constructed of larger rocks, arranged naturally, to emphasise the use of stones as a main element. Generally plants used do not need a lot of care.
  • Screen A tall hedge of suitable plants planted closely together and used as a windbreak, to block a bad view, to separate parts of the garden or as a backdrop.
  • Suitable for coastal gardens Plants adapted to dry, sandy soil, forceful wind, limited rainfall and intense sunlight.
  • Suitable for smaller gardens Such plants do not have invasive root systems, remain small or controllable and can often be grown in containers.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

limited to areas in the vicinity of the Western Cape towns of Oudtshoorn and Willowmore, in karoid, or fynbos vegetation, on rocky sandstone, shale or limestone

Planting Suggestions

Pelargonium quercifolium is easy to grow as it adapts to almost any environment. It grows naturally in rather dry conditions. Do not over water or over feed as the stems grow long and heavy, resulting in breakage of the somewhat brittle older growth. Compost can be added to the soil if needed and a good layer of mulch should be laid around the plant. Water until established then reduce the amount of water so that the plant becomes truly water wise. To encourage bushing, break off the tips of young shoots. It is advisable to cut back hard after flowering at least for the first two seasons, after which lighter pruning should be sufficient, depending on how large a shrub you want. I have found that severe pruning in the earlier years creates a stronger base structure.

Medicinal Uses

Traditionally taken internally for the treatment of rheumatism, hypertension and heart disease. The plant is an aromatic, stimulant herb with a resinous scent and of which all parts are astringent. Essential oils are obtained from the leaves. The leaves can also be used fresh in infusions.

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