Garden plants as house plants

greenlarry(UK 8/9)October 20, 2012

No Im not suggesting you dig up your apple tree and bring it indoors, but well, years ago my mom would occasionally buy me a small plant from the shop, she didnt know it but it was usually a garden perennial. Once it was Aubrieta, another time ivy, and once a lovely saxifrage. Of course as I grew I learned what they were and realised they belonged in the garden, but can such plants make it indoors? I know the Ivy lasted a good few years before I planted it out, but some of these plants are clumpers. And what about so called garden annuals? Marigolds. (Tagetes), planted out every summer, to die come the first frosts, sams with those red salvias. Funny thing is nowadays pelargoniums are regularly planted as bedding plants!

Theyre definitely house plants to me!

Also in my old house plant book ( Hessayon) things like Aucuba japonica and Hydrangea are listed as house plants- yet they are garden shrubs here!

An aucuba does look good in a pot mind...

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Larry, plants differ in their ability to withstand typical interior conditions. After all, our favorite houseplants are from ancestors found in tropical and subtropical environments all over the world. They're ALL outdoor plants somewhere (or their ancestors are).

Aucuba, Fatsia, Aspidistra, and many, many others are plants that are common to the outdoor landscaping in places I either have lived or live now...yet I first became acquainted with them as houseplants. Pittosporum and Podocarpus are others that comes to mind. These plants are tolerant of lower light conditions and are quite happy with indoor humidity levels. Mike and Toni and others are successful at growing gardenias, tea olives, citrus, and other semi-tropical evergreens. Mike can't believe it when I talk about my 12 foot (and growing) Osmanthus fragrans blooming in our yard,

Marigolds are annuals (not so-called) and begin to come to the end of their lives after they set seed. We can prolong the inevitable by removing the older flowers right away. But lack of sufficient sunlight will be a major problem with growing marigolds inside. Full sun, flowering plants are probably not good candidates but there are even exceptions to that rule. Pentas is a good example.

Other garden plants that make fine indoor guests are coleus, Begonia semperflorens, geraniums, oxalis, caladium, and more.

I'll bet that the rest of the gang in here can come up with some good options.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 11:37AM
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About digging up an apple tree then growing as a house plant..Well, I certainly agree, one shouldn't dig up trees from their yards then haul

Growing apple trees indoors can be done...I have an old plant book called 'Starting from Scratch.'
The book focuses on grocery-store produce, including apples.

The trick is seeds need to be refrigerated, I believe 3 months before sowing..'Depending on time of year.'

Had to Google Aubrieta, which I'm unfamilar with..when you wrote saxifrage, thought you meant the beautiful, Saxifraga stolinfolia/Strawberry Begonia/Geranium. It makes a gorgeous hanging, indoor plant.

Although difficult, Ivy can be grown indoors, with a little effort and spraying w/soapy water to halt mites.

Marigolds..Dwarf Marigolds are best, BUT, they, too are spider mite magnets.
Another plant book, written by James Underwood Crockett, discusses annuals as house plants.
He suggests placing 5-6 'dwarf French Marigold' seeds in a 4" pot, water then setting before a sunny window.
Don't bother w/large Marigolds; they grow spindly.
The same applies to lettuce seeds.

Funny, you mention Salvia. One Salvia popped up this spring, from last years plants..Foliage looked different. I honestly thought it was a Peperomia. Leaves were crinkled. It flowered so I figured out its type. I too thought about digging it up, and 'attempting' to grow as a house plant..have to think about it.

There are two window boxes on either side of the front stairs..Normally, I plant Petunia's in these boxes.
Twice, after flowers turned to seed, a few seeds dropped in potted citrus.
By Feb, little Petunias sprouted and flowered..I was facinated..And no mites, either.

Some annuals/perennials do fine indoors like Morning Glory. 'Blue Dawn' is quite hardy.

Same with Coleus.

When you said Pelargoniums, do you mean Geraniums? Geraniums make great house plants as well as Pelargoniums. Especially in a cool room..the smallest cutting will flower. And they're fairly pest-free..

Some plant book authors are all for growing Aucuba indoors. I've never tried growing Aucuba as a house plant, but considered it.
There's an online nursery that sells small plants incluing Aucubas. Plants meant for the garden but can be grown indoors, too.

I haven't luck with Hydrangeas. I don't understand their needs. They're just plain difficult.
I had what was called hardy Hydrangea planted outdoors, 'over 10-yrs,' that never bloomed and a host for whitefly. I dug and tossed it last spring. Too

Long ago, I bought an 'indoor' Hydrangea, but it died. I truly think they're more difficult than keeping annuals indoors. Won't add another.

So, there are many fruit/annuals/perennials that can be brouht indoors and grown as house plants..But, they need extra care, light and fresh, circulating air. Toni

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 12:22PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Toni I meant pelargoniums, totally different to gerrys. Pels are frost tender indoor plants with smelly leaves and asymmetrical flowers. Theyre now used as summer bedding here.

As for apples, I have an,apple tree in the garden that grew from a pip that was already germinating inside an apple!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 12:37PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Rhizo, a lot of those plants you describe are only used as houseplants here in England. Coleus outdoors, hmm could be good in summer, but how do they cope with the wet?

Ageratum is another long standing bedding plant with small blue flowers- I reckon itd make a great indoor plant!

Begonias are now appearing as summer bedding, but come first frosts and theyll mush, just like the pels! I feel like rescuing them when I see this this time of year!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 12:46PM
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Larry, the reason I asked...some nurseries/tags use Geranium and Pelargonium interchangeably. Either name can be written on label.
At first it was confusing, until I did a search. Geraniums sold here are NOT Pels..not even close.

Are Pels there grow as fat plants? If given enough time to live?

Strange about your apple tree. Has it produced yet?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 12:52PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Toni, no regular pels aren't fat plants, tho some in that family are!
They are regular windowsill plants with usually bright red flowers and a dark zone on the leaf- hence the full name Zonal Pelargonium, Latin name Pelargonium zonale.

As for my apple tree, no fruit yet but it'll probably be a crab as fruit trees rarely produce true to type from seed.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 2:04PM
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Larry, do you consider


And This

Geraniums or Pelargoniums?

These two are Pels

Starting to go dormant

So, there are Pells that don't have thick trunks?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 2:17PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Yes all those are pels. Its not that I consider them pelargoniums, they are! Pels and gerrys are botanically different plants, both in the same family, Geraniaceae, as are Erodium and Monsonia.
All lovely plants there!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 2:30PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Larry, this is my milieu, my main goal, so I can free-scape my yard each spring with cuttings and saved plants. Have you seen my foliage article?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 3:19PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Your foliage article?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 3:35PM
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Stush2049(Pitts., Pa. 6)

I remember as a child, a lot of my house plants were outside plants. All in what you love. Also we didn't have much money to throw away.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 5:14PM
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True annuals: they finish their life cycle in one growing season (seed-to-seed; - and marigolds are) - probably does not make sense to try to grow them indoors, because they really do not want to live any longer...
Tender perennials: in colder regions are grown as annuals; could be brought in & continue to grow as long as one can provide enough light & appropriate temps...

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 6:23PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I want to try a true annual, see how long it goes for before giving up!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 6:37PM
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I read today, creeping jenny( Lysimachia nummularia �Aurea�) can be a house plant. I never considered this or thought it was possible. Has anyone grown it inside?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 7:38PM
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I dont understand what that jibberesh is but its should read Lysimachia nummularia Aurea

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 7:55PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Rina, exactly. Once you get to know which plants in the annuals section are really perennials, things really get interesting.

Foliage article. It's the same as the link in the "colorful plants" discussion, if anyone already clicked it there.

Polly, no, just doesn't interest me.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 8:04PM
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Toni, you have more different kinds of plants than any 100 square miles of any most luscious Caribbean Island I can think of, except of course for an 'Osmanthus'
I'll be your enabler on that one too.

By the way, I just LOVE all my scented geraniums which grow huge in the ground. I just dig them up, cut the roots back, and repot. They look and smell great both in the garden and in the home.

Great thread by the way Greenlarry.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 8:46PM
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Impatiens make good houseplants! For a number of years I kept a double flowered pink Impatiens plant indoors and it bloomed regularly without any special care.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 10:30PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Yes impatiens is a plant I used to have indoors, in fact when I was a kid it was ONLY available as a house plant, and only un pink, called Bizzy Lizzy. I had a whopper, kept it for years, loved it. Now we have all these fancy new guinea hybrids with double flowers and fancy leaves.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 4:59AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Polly, I don't believe that Lysimachia nummularia would do well as a permanent indoor plant. Some (many) of our temperate zone evergreen plants require a cool or even cold rest period. I 'think ' that there are other semi-tropical zone Lysimachia species that would do very well.

The requirement of a cold dormancy is one reason that we can't grow most temperate zone evergreens inside permantly.

Impatiens can do really nicely's actually a tender perennial which is often treated AS an annual. Our traditional Impatiens walleriana, though, is going to be harder to find in the garden centers...until the industry solves the rampant Downy Mildew problem. We really don't have anything to replace it.

Larry, as a tender perennial, Coleus is killed in a freeze. But, if brought inside, it can live for years.....much like your impatiens.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 6:30AM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

im not sure i 'get' the whole Indoor/outdoor, deciduous/non-deciduous thing,,?
is it actually in a plants genetic make-up then?
if i take a cutting of an local 'native' privet from the yard, and root it indoors here in 6A, will it still 'know' it needs a dormancy period? why?

can these 'dormancy' 'traits' be hybridized OUT of plants,,?
do Maple trees in FLA. still loose their leaves seasonally?

forgive my 'global-ignorance',, is it nearing Summer in the UK?
you mentioned: 'Begonias are now appearing as summer bedding'
are you like Australia climate/Seasonal-wise??
i thought it was differentiated, Hemisphere??
srry, must be having a 'dark-side-of-the-moon' moment lol

luv that 2nd (depicted) variegated~? Germ! is it a flowering type? :)
that whole Pelargonium/Geranium thing has/had me confused a bit too,,,
..btw ive asked the Admins to Prohibit you, Mike, and Purp from posting any more plant pics! so, Just Stop It! okay hehe

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 8:35AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

larry - if you remember the old pink Busy Lizzie you might be interested in this saga.

Hopeful - what is the name of the Pelargonium wuth the caudex in your pictures? (BTW greenlarry is absolutley right about the Pelargonium nomenclature)

Here is a link that might be useful: The hunt for Busy Lizzie

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 9:00AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Silentsurfer, no its autumn here, winter approaching.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 9:16AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

silent surfer, maples still lose their leaves in Florida. Some traits are as genetically inherent to plants as are certain animal characteristics. Plants can evolve, however, over time. There are maples that simply will not grow in Florida...period. The beautiful sugar maple, Acer saccharum, won't be found in tropical or semi-tropical locations. But red maple, Acer rubrum, and a sugar maple variant called the Florida maples, Acer saccharum var. Floridanum are commonly found in the very deep south. Red Maples has a very wide range, while the Florida Maples are more readily found in the southern tier. Both are deciduous.

They say that one cannot 'tame' the wildness out of an wild animal...some behaviors are much more than simply learned. You cannot coerce a beaver to live in a tree or a cave; a Great White shark will never allow tourists to hang on to their fins at SeaWorld. We can't convince an apple tree that it doesn't need a certain number of dormant chilling hours every winter in order to survive.

Rather than breed certain traits OUT of plants, both nature AND geneticists breed OTHER characteristics INTO plants. That's why we have many hundreds of thousands of different and unique plant species on the planet. That's SPECIES, not counting all of the endless man-made hybrid cultivars known to exist only though human measures.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:58AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Rhizo, youre dead right there!

Flora, yes that was an interesting thread, thanks for the trip down memory lane! And I LOVE that fancy hybrid with the red vein, fabulous!
I also am interested in that caudiciform pel- Id so love to collect pels!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Larry, I'm still confused. lol.
In spring the markets sell zonal and seed Geraniums. Do you know the difference? They look the same to me.. Is the botanical difference noticeable or a DNA thingy?

In the first pic I posted, there are 3 or 4 different Geranium varieties. Zonal, seedling, ? and a hanging, purchased @ different places. Flowers are pink, pink & white, red/orange...the hanging Geranium never blooms. Wonder why?

Thanks, will research Erodium and Monsonia..

Larry, exactly what do you mean by true annual?

Mike. LOL. I don't have that many, but wish I lived in the Caribbean.

Mike, don't remind me about scented/fancy leaf Geraniums. 2-3 summers ago, I purchased several scented and fancy leaf types..Insead of keeping them potted, I decided to plant in-ground..By autumn, they were beautiful, BUT, large..I didn't think about cutting roots back, so they were left outside to die.


There were 8-9 types..all big. Darn, wish I'd mentioned this problem to you then..

Mike, how much light and temps do your scented Geraniums get during winter? I have, think 3 scented. Other Geraniums do well in cold temps, but I believe scented are fussier, need warmer temps..???

SS..hope you're okay. I was going to respond to your other thread, but after reading what you wrote........
If the variegated Geranium flowers, it hasn't, yet. It's still outside..

Flora, wish I knew..I bought the Pel long probably had a tag but labels disappear..It's like washing/drying socks..where do they go??

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:18AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Toni, all the pics you posted are Pelargoniums, not geraniums.
It doesn't help when the people selling them dont know a daisy from a daffodil!
And yes its a botanical difference.
Here in England a Geranium is a hardy outdoor perrenial with palmate or rounded leaves and symmetrical flowers.

A zonal pelargoniun is an african plant with hairy leaves, often with a dark zone, usually oddly scented (they contain geranium oil which you can buy from herbalists)
Also the flowers are not symmetrical.
Then there are scented pelargoniuns, sometimes sold as scented geranium, wrong!
They have strongly cut leaves which are aromatic.
Then theres the hanging pelargonium, or ivy leaf pelargonium. Not usually a zone on the leaf, which is slightly succulent, but the flowers are un symmetrical too.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:36AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Hopeful - just to reiterate what Larry said. All those plants you mentioned which nurseries and garden centres call 'Geraniums', whether from seed, hanging or zonal should correctly, ie botanically, be called Pelargoniums. They are in the genus Pelargonium within the family Geraniaceae and most come from Southern Africa. Wiki has a clear explanation. The incorrect common name 'Geranium' is misleading but widely used.

The genus Geranium, in the same family as Pelargoniums, ie Geraniaceae, are mostly, but not all, hardy perennials.

Could you post your mystery Pelargonium with caudex on the Name that Plant Forum? I'd really like to know what it's called.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 12:15PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Sorry, hopeful - it's me again. I was intrigued by your Peli with a paunch but a bit worried that it didn't look quite right.

I believe you have Cissus tuberosa there, not a Pelargonium at all. Look at the pics and see what you think.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cissus tuberosum

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 12:28PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Toni, here is a typical Geranium, a native plant in England.

And a typical Pelargonium

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 12:34PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

And heres a close up of a pel flower I had, notice it's not symmetrical

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 12:39PM
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Well everyone, we may like the scented 'pelargonium' as larry put it, but my cat likes it even

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 1:17PM
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Larry, you're SO right about stores/nurseries mis-labeling plants. Most gh employees do not know names, including common...forget The Latin.

I stepped outside to feel Ger/Pel leaves...They're fuzzy..

Larry, there's a 'Geranium?' hardy to zone 5. Don't know if it's the correct name, but they coined it, Geranium sanguineum. Flower colors are blue, 'which means purple,' purple, 'which means lavender' and pink. Pink is correct., location, IL.

I've seen hardy Geraniums..Leaves and flowers are much smaller than other ?'s. Flowers differ from other ?.
They look nothing like Pels/Geraniums we see at the market.

Why would one buy Geranium oil? What's its purpose?

How and why are flowers non-symmetrical?

Aw, that's the name of my Pel? potted in green container.. Ivy Leaf..thanks.

What's baffling is, Geraniums/Pels are slightly scented..Not talking Scented Geraniums...ordinary Gers/Pells sold in garden centers and stores during spring and summer.

Hi Flora. Thanks for the explanation. I understand what you're saying, but couldn't ID one from the other.

Like the Christmas/Thanksgiving thread, guess a name sticks to make life easier for customers. CC are not sold here, yet, they label Thanksgivin Cactus, Christmas Cctus. Guess the same applies to Geraniums/Pelargoniums.

However, depending where Ger/Pels are sold, some are marked seed and others zonal Geraniums..That's where confusion sets in.

Flora, after viewing the link you provided, I think you're right. My plant isn't a Pel, it looks more like Cissus tuberosa. Gee,

I cannot recall if 'x' plant was sold as Pelargonium, or an assumption made on my part.

I also Googled thick trunk Pelargoniums...foliage differs from my plant.
Thanks for pointing out my error. Next step is to locate Cissus on Flickr, type in the correct name.

Do you want me to post pic on Name that Plant Forum? Toni

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 1:51PM
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birdsnblooms large are leaves on hardy Geranium? They look pretty big...moreso than our hardy Gers.

The plant you have marked as Pel are sold here as Geraniums..Although, finding ringed/Pels are harder to locate lately.

The flowers are so different than any Ger/Pel I've seen...very unique, pretty..

I wonder if your Pel is only availabe outside US.

Mike..oh no...variegated Pel..After seeing its variegation, the expression on my face was similar to that of your beautiful Siamese. Don't know which I like better. lol.
Is he/she Seal Point? If I didn't have birds...........

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 2:36PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Toni the pel I posted, the pink one, is unique to me- I crossed two pels and that was the result!

As for leaf size on hardy gers, it varies. Herb Robert is a common 'weed', with very cut, small leaves,tinged red, and very small pink flowers.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 3:15PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Toni, compare these two side by side, tell which is which?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 3:34PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Oops,second pic didnt work.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 3:36PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Hi Hopeful - Geranium sanguineum is a correct name, but it isn't blue. More of a purply/pink. There is a cultivar called Shepherd's Warning which is pink and a white one called 'Album'. there are a huge number of very hardy Geraniums if you like perennial gardening. But All Pelargoniums are more or less tender. The people over at Perennials will know all about them. There is also a Geraniums Forum but it's a bit slow. If you just Google hardy Geraniums you will find huge numbers of species and cultivars suitable for your outdoor garden year round.

Here is a link that might be useful: Geraniums

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 3:47PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Yes there is a Geranium forum, but most posts on there concern geraniums, which are actually pels!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 3:57PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Flora I cant get that site to work. I get the front page ok but when I click on the only link available, the flower, I just get a blank page.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 5:01PM
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Toni....lolololol Yup, I can imagine you looking like my cat on that
I LOVE the fragrant plants.

Larry, first off, you have some beauties there. I LOVE the blue flowering one. Where do you get one that flowers like that? Nice.
Now, are you saying I should keep all my fragrant ones warmer than regular geraniums?
Do you think they will be ok in a room that stays in the mid fifties on a sunny window sill all winter?


    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 6:39PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Mike, the blue one isnt mine, its a photo from the wikipedia and is a native wild flower.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 6:57PM
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Few hardy geraniums in my garden:

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:50PM
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...another one:

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:54PM
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Pelargonium x hortum cv 'Vancouver Centennial' Geranium
(not hardy)

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 12:03AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Nice, i used to have Vancouver Centennial, it may be one of the parents of my pink pel.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 3:37AM
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