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Pelargonium for pollinators?

FireFire LondonPosts: 14,051
edited 8 April in Wildlife gardening
I was interested to see on GW tonight hoverflies on scented leaf pelargoniums.  I see Prince of Orange being advertised as 'good for pollinators'. Also P. Citronella and P. Attar of Roses.

As I understand it, the standard bedding types are no good (as with other standard bedding plants like pansies and petunias etc). Has anyone here been observing how pollinators interact with certain pellies? I have had a rose leaf pellie for ten years (it can get to five foot in a pot) but I never thought it might have wildlife value. They are tender so involve a certain amount of faff as I have no greenhouse. Thanks

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Joy Lucille



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  • Anna33Anna33 West SussexPosts: 285
    Without having seen the bit on GW last night, this question is very timely for me, as I'm just learning about pelargoniums at the moment. The best ones for pollinators that I've seen are the ones with the more delicate single flowers, like in your photo above, so a lot of the Scented and Species pelargoniums. Personally I've had P. 'Attar of Roses' and P. fragrans in the garden (in pots) which were both visited by pollinators during the summer, but in the gardens where I volunteer the bees have been visiting lots of others with similar type of flowers.

    I wouldn't get them as a first choice for pollinators, but as beautiful and almost decadent additions to a pollinator-friendly garden, those types of pelargoniums will earn their place.

    As for the faff of looking after them throughout winter, you could always take cuttings, which are much smaller to look after so would fit inside the house, and sacrifice the parent plant to the British winters... I did manage to get a couple through wrapped in fleece inside a plastic greenhouse, but I feel this was more luck than anything.

    And finally, there are people out there who are much better informed about pelargoniums, my knowledge is in its infancy! The above is just my experience, from what I've seen so far. :)

  • FireFire LondonPosts: 14,051
    The best ones for pollinators that I've seen are the ones with the more delicate single flowers, like in your photo above, so a lot of the Scented and Species pelargoniums. ...I wouldn't get them as a first choice for pollinators, but as beautiful and almost decadent additions to a pollinator-friendly garden, those types of pelargoniums will earn their place.

    I think that's it. There seems a world of difference (that I hadn't appreciated) between the ivy leaf standard bedding types and the species/scent leaf types. The later seem much more tender than the former which can often over-winter in a sheltered, warm south facing spot in London. None of my scented-leaf plants (my own and my gifts to others) have managed a winter outside, even by a south facing wall. 

    I do take cuttings and they are fine. But for some years I did have a five ft scented pellie and flowered for months and months. I'm tempted to try again if there is some wildlife benefit. Lord knows where I would put it.
  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 1,447
    My Lemon scented one becomes a house plant over winter, It does flower but I've never seen anything visiting it.
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,549
    I've got Prince of Orange. The hoverflies definitely go for it. It spends its winters on the windowsill in the spare bedroom. I used to have a slightly minty one, can't remember the name, and that could stay out in a mild winter with shelter, although I lived in Bristol then, which is warmer and less wet than here.

    ETA Lady Plymouth - that's the one I had.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 14,051
    I've got Prince of Orange. The hoverflies definitely go for it.


    Interesting.

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,549
    when it goes outside, it's in a sheltered courtyard where I sit to drink my tea, so I'm aware of the hoverflies buzzing about
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • pitter-patterpitter-patter Posts: 1,816
    I grow a lot of pelargoniums and I’ve noticed bees showing interest not only in the species, but in most of the single ones as well. They are one of my favourites plants to grow in containers and there’s a huge variety. (Warning ⛔️ ⚠️ shocking pink). Pinkerbell 


    I do have some more subtle ones as well - below is the species pelargonium cordifolium (name after the shape of the leaf, cord = heart). This grows rather shrubby and upright. 


  • IlikeplantsIlikeplants W Mids Posts: 754
    My scented one is coming back to life. I left it outside in a sheltered spot so away from wind, rain and frost. Is it warm enough to get the pelargoniums out yet? All mine are in a cold frame with very little water. They probably need new compost when they come out.
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 14,051
    edited 11 April
    Is it warm enough to get the pelargoniums out yet?
    It depends what night temps are like by you. In London we are keeping fingers crossed that we have had a last frost. Day temps are pulling up towards 20oC and nights over 10oC. Long may it last. Hopefully May will be kind.

    I haven't put my pellie cuttings outside yet. We had a frost over the weekend.

  • IlikeplantsIlikeplants W Mids Posts: 754
    Just under 10 at night here in midlands so hopefully it’s getting better and this week I might get them into new compost. Just realised that sometimes I don’t give pots new compost. 

    To the original question I don’t think my fragrant pelargonium has attracted pollinators but I hear they keep mozzies away so I’m keeping them near the door and the waterbutts.
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