Pelargonium zonale

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Botanical Name
Pelargonium zonale
Geraniaceae - The geranium family.
Pelargonium zo-NAH-lee
Common Name(s)
English: Horse-shoe pelargonium
Afrikaans: Wildemalva
Plant Group
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sand tolerant Plants adapted to survive in nutrient poor, very sandy soils.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
Specific Information

Pelargonium zonale is an erect to scrambling shrub with almost succulent stems that are often hairy. The older stems harden and become woody with age. The leaves are large, smooth or textured, fairly crisp and usually with a  pale to dark horseshoe-shaped mark which is a characteristic of this species.

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pelargonium flower without prominent markings on the petals, which are long and narrow

  • 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 Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • pink
  • red
  • white
Growth Rate
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, in coastal areas, valleys, kloofs, on the margins of indigenous forests and on rocky outcrops with scrub vegetation

Planting Suggestions

Pelargonium zonale grows easily, preferring a semi-shade to full sun position. The plants should be pruned hard after flowering and tipped occasionally to encourage bushiness and to keep them tidy. Feed with compost or  liquid organic fertilizers if necessary. A good layer of mulch will keep them sufficiently moist. Over watering may result in very lush foliage but reduced flowering.

Medicinal Uses

Pelargonium zonale is a parent of many of  hybrids grown all over the world.

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