The carpet geranium is an ideal garden plant. It spreads and forms
a dense carpet approximately 300mm thick and flowers almost all
year round with a peak during the summer months. It has finely divided
leaves which give it a soft texture in the garden.
It occurs naturally in the southwestern and eastern parts of the
country where it can be found scrambling about through natural vegetation.
It can be grown in full sun or semi-shade, although it does flower
better and form a tighter carpet in full sun. Geranium incanum
can be used very effectively on banks or as a colourful border plant,
it is also very attractive when allowed to trail over retaining
walls or garden pathways and steps. It is also equally useful in
mixed borders, pots or hanging baskets.
The word Geranium comes from the greek geranos which
refers to a crane as the seed capsule resembles that bird. The specific
name makes reference to a pale greyish-white colour possibly on
the underside of the leaves.
This plant is used traditionally by both African people and Europeans
to make a medicinal tea from the leaves which is used to offer relief
from certain complaints such as bladder infections, venereal diseases,
and conditions relating to menstruation.
Growing Geranium incanum
Geranium incanum is easily propagated from both seed and
cuttings. Selected forms, such as those with darker coloured flowers,
are best grown from cuttings. Fresh seed sown in spring or autumn
is easily germinated and will produce a variety of darker and paler
forms. Seed can be sown directly onto a well prepared seedling medium
in trays and lightly covered. Once watering has been commenced the
trays should never be allowed to dry out completely. Seedlings can
be transplanted into separate containers once they are large enough
The carpet geranium belongs to a large family (Geraniaceae) with
about 700 species falling into 11 genera which include Geranium,
Pelargonium, Monsonia, Sarcocaulon and Erodium. Plants
from this family, especially geraniums and pelargoniums, have been
hybridized and are widely cultivated the world over for their spectacular
displays of flowers and striking colours.
- Pooley. E 1998. A Field Guide to Wild Flowers KwaZulu-Natal
and the Eastern Region. Natal Flora Publications Trust: Durban.
- Smith. C.A. 1966. Common Names of South African Plants.
The Government Printer: Pretoria.
- Jackson. W.P. U. 1990. Origins and meanings of names of South
African plant genera.UCT Ecolab: Capetown.
- Arnold, T.H. & De Wet, B.C. (Eds) 1993. Plants of southern
Africa: names and distribution. Memoirs of the botanical Survey
of South Africa No 62.
- Van Wyk, B., Van Outdshoorn, B., Gerike, N. 1997. Medicinal
Plants of South Africa. Briza Publications : Pretoria.
Witwatersarnd National Botanical Garden