Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES -

Cherkas adds the zonal gera­ni­ums we use in the gar­den are hy­brids that have been hy­bridized from a species from South Africa called Pe­largo­nium zonale, which has a dark zone on its leaves. The ivy pelargo­ni­ums are hy­brids from a species called Pe­largo­nium pelta­tum, also from South Africa. There are also the re­gal or Martha Wash­ing­ton va­ri­eties. Whether it is eas­ier to re­fer to them all as gera­ni­ums, ad­vances by plant breed­ers in the past few years have turned the no­tion of an old-fash­ioned plant right on its head. With great ge­net­ics, the new in­ter­spe­cific va­ri­eties com­bine the best at­tributes from the ivy gera­nium, a vig­or­ous grower, with the reg­u­lar zonal type gera­nium. The re­sult is a pow­er­house an­nual with ex­cep­tional flow­er­ing from spring through fall, un­stop­pable even in pe­ri­ods of ex­treme heat dur­ing mid­sum­mer. Like most gar­den­ers, Duayne Friesen, lo­cal sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Ball Seed, grows gera­ni­ums in his Win­nipeg gar­den for their ver­sa­til­ity, colour and ease of care. Friesen says Dou­ble Take is the most uni­form in­ter­spe­cific pe­largo­nium series on to­day’s mar­ket and flow­ers amaz­ingly. In fact, it pro­duces the most flow­ers per plant of any in­ter­spe­cific type. Dou­ble Take’s com­pact size makes it ide­ally suited to con­tain­ers and hang­ing bas­kets. With min­i­mal shat­ter­ing (ab­scis­sion of petals), it is also the only one of the in­ter­spe­cific series to pro­duce a white flower. In the midst of the cur­rent freez­ing tem­per­a­tures, it’s an ir­re­sistible prospect to imag­ine a rich abun­dance of colour­ful dou­ble blooms to look for­ward to. Friesen goes so far as to say there is even an ob­vi­ous ad­van­tage to dead­head­ing. “It forces you to go out­side into your gar­den and gets you away from pa­per­work or your com­puter screen,” says Friesen. Although highly dis­ease re­sis­tant, dead­head­ing helps to lessen any risk of dis­ease is­sues such as botry­tis, a fun­gal in­fec­tion that can oc­cur in pro­longed damp con­di­tions. Plant tags should iden­tify whether or not the plant is an in­ter­spe­cific va­ri­ety. The flow­ers of Sarita and Cum­banita series of in­ter­spe­cific gera­ni­ums tend to shat­ter more eas­ily as the bloom ages. This trans­lates to less work if you don’t hap­pen to equate dead­head­ing with a Zen ex­pe­ri­ence. Other pop­u­lar in­ter­spe­cific va­ri­eties worth try­ing in your gar­den in­clude Caliente and Cal­liope avail­able in colours that in­clude bur­gundy, laven­der and hot pink. Tra­di­tion­ally, it’s been easy to spot zonal va­ri­eties by the pur­plish band

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