In the comments to my last post about Pelargonium ‘Mr. Wren’, I mentioned the colored-leaved varieties which had benefited so much from being cleaned up – that is, having virus diseases removed. These are marketed around the world by the German plant breeders Elsner pac under the Pelgardini brand.
When I first grew ‘Vancouver Centennial’ (above, click to enlarge) back in the early 1990s it was a weak plant, lovely but very slow to make a good sized plant - which was perhaps surprising as it had only been introduced in 1986. But, nevertheless, it had already picked up some debilitating viruses. I found it hard to root from cuttings too.
Its boldly marked, jaggedly shaped foliage, spreading habit and brick orange flowers marked it out as unique but eventually I gave up.
But this is one of the varieties in the Pelgardini brand and, although less strong than many pelargoniums, it’s now easy to grow, makes a good sized specimen and has even led to a magenta flowered version, ‘Mandala’, raised in Italy by Catia de Tomi and introduced in 2005.
‘Vancouver Centennial’, by the way, was bred by Ian Gilliam, a British pelargonium enthusiast who moved to Canada and named and introduced the plant to celebrate Vancouver’s Centennial year – 1986.
The cleaned up plants in the Pelgardini brand seem most often to be available in nurseries and garden centers than by mail order. Look for “Pelgardini” on the label. Five varieties are included, reduced from about ten a few years ago.