Sunday 2 January 2011

Scented Royal Oak

Perlargonium quercifolium 'Royal Oak'

The oak leaf shaped leaves give this species plant the name 'quercifolium'  as in quercus sp.   It is also known  and sold as Royal Oak.  A large and shrubby plant,  I like to grow this in a planter which is moved outside fairly early on in the summer as it seems to be fairly tolerant of cooler weather, and I bring it inside later than other pelargoniums.  It does like sunshine and likes to be kept on the dry side.  It has fairly large and very beautifully marked flowers over a very long season - my plant is still flowering in the greenhouse now.    The leaves have a dark blotch in the centre and feel sticky to touch.   Although this is often sold as a scented plant, it is not a sweet scent, but rather is strong, like balsam. 

P. quercifolium is found growing naturally in Cape Province on rocky slopes.  The plant was introduced to Kew Gardens in 1774 by F. Masson.
The sharp eyed amongst you will have spotted in my last post that two plants on my 'sick bay' ledge are not  pelargoniums.   The two pots at the back on the left are of Orostachys iwarenge - also known as Chinese Dunce Cap.   This is a succulent of the crassulaceae family and is from Japan.  It has soft pink/grey rosettes of leaves which are quite beautiful.   At the moment, they do not look very interesting - just a greyish very tiny rosette surrounded by brown dead leaves.  However, at the end of this month, the brown dead leaves will rot away completely and the rosettes will begin to grow.   They grow larger as the summer progresses until the end of July/beginning of August when the rosettes will appear to grow taller - like dunces caps.  By the end of the month they explode into mountains of small flowers.

 The flowers only last two or three weeks, depending on the weather.   Last August was very dismal so I did not have many flowers and they were very soon over.   Once the flowers die, the plant seems to wilt and die, but I collect a few of the larger, non-flowering rosettes which are beginning to die off and pot them into small pots of John Innes 2 and bring them indoors for the winter as the plant is not hardy here.

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. Never heard of Chinese Dunce Cap before. Looks like an interesting plant.
    Hope you get a lovely 2011 with many nice flowers in your borders and in your greenhouse.


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