Success in planting pelargonium seeds depends on correct identification of the seeds, adequately piercing of the seed coat, and providing appropriate conditions for germination. The germinating process can take several days, and some seeds might be unresponsive. Gardeners can also propagate pelargonium plants via leaf or stem cuttings, as well as by dividing the roots.
Due to frequent errors in seed labeling, in addition to accidental cross-pollination of species, it can be difficult to ascertain the true origin of specific seeds. Thus, it is possible that specific so-called pelargonium seeds might not germinate. Pelargonium seeds are naturally inclined to germinate at varying times due to an inhibitor that occurs within the seed. Also, the seeds of pelargonium plants tend to have a tough seed coat that is moisture-resistant.
Before planting pelargonium seeds, it is helpful to use a scarification process that forces the seeds to be receptive to water and fertilizer. To scarify pelargonium seeds, first remove the seed husk or mericarp. Then, scrape or cut away a very small piece of each seed with a sharp knife. An alternate method of scarification involves rubbing the dehusked seed with sandpaper.
After scarification, planting pelargonium seeds requires a sandy soil with good drainage in a tray or pot. Pelargonium plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Cover the seeds with about 0.25 inches (6 mm) of the soil mixture, then place the container is a warm location that reaches temperatures upward of 60 degrees F (16 degrees C). Ensure adequate circulation of air around the seed container to prevent fungus problems. Transplant the seedlings into individual containers or plant them outdoors once they have grown at least two leaves.
Pelargonium plants are most commonly known by the term scented geraniums. The flowers range from purple or fuchsia to white, red, or reddish orange. About 20 original species of pelargonium plants have led to the creation of thousands of pelargonium cultivars. These flowering plants are typically grown annually in warmer climates but can be found as wild perennials in some areas, including southern parts of Africa.
Some pelargonium varieties are used commercially to flavor certain types of foods, including ice cream and iced tea. The oil from pelargonium plants, commonly called geranium oil, is used for aromatherapy. Some species of pelargonium plants are said to have medicinal uses, such as in the preparation of cold remedies.