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Pelargonium Sidoides

Pelargonium sidoides is also known as South African Geranium. Although the common name refers to it as a geranium plant (cranesbill) it is not. It belongs to the genus pelargonium (scented geranium, storksbill). It is a perennial plant.

flower of pelargonium sidoides, umckaloabo
Photo: Stickpen

This is a special pelargonium plant! Why? Natives in Southern Africa (this pelargonium species – as most pelargonium plants - has its origins in Southern Africa) often use it as a traditional medicinal plant (called umckaloabo).

Yet, the medical use is not restricted to Africa, it is widespread throughout the world. The high medicinal properties of this plant is highly valued by countless people! Why not give it a try?

Flower colour ranges from lilac, magenta to near black, giving them a mystique appearance that catches everyone’s eye! The rather dark flowers contrast vividly with the silvery foliage. The silvery-green foliage is lovely to look at even when there are no flowers. The crinkled leaves are leathery and have well-defined scalloped edges.

foliage of pelargonium sidoides, umckaloabo
Photo: Chhe

These pelargonium plants grow rather fast and they have a very long blooming period: they flower from May to November (of course, this is depending on growing conditions of the location). Deadhead wilted flowers constantly. This will stimulate the plants to produce more flowers over time.

The plants are small in stature and this characteristic makes it ideal for planting in containers, window boxes or small flowerbeds. They are also good groundcover plants.

They prefer to grow in full sun to partial shade. Keep the alkaline to neutral soil well drained, but avoid over-watering.

They can also be grown and kept as indoor houseplants in areas with colder climates.

In areas with cold winters they should be kept inside from late fall to early spring to prevent them from freezing to death. When you take the plants inside, it is best to trim them back about one-third. Consider re-potting them in spring. Important: Water them only sparingly during wintertime!

Propagation: They can be grown from either cuttings or seeds. Place the cuttings in a vase with fresh water until they root. Then, you can plant them in different post. Do this from spring to late fall.
Seeds are best sown from winter to early spring.

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