All the familiar plants we know as geraniums are pelargoniums, but they have been treated under the name by which they are so well known. Under Pelargonium we include only the show and fancy section, which is strangely so often called Lady or Martha Washington. Possibly one of these pretty plants suffered with the cherry tree by that famous little hatchet.
In Europe the show pelargonium has long been a standard decorative plant, and considering the ease and short time it requires to grow, and its rich, handsome effect, it deserves all the popularity that it gets. Magnificent plants for exhibition purposes were grown by several of the English firms, chief among which was the firm of Charles Turner, of Slough. Plants six or seven feet across, not over three feet high, and as perfect in outline as a well grown azalea, are a gorgeous sight and are surpassed in showy effectiveness only by an azalea. Millions are grown in 5-inch and 6-inch pots for the European markets and some are grown for our own, but not in such quantities.
Great as their beauty is, they have these defects or shortcomings compared to the semi-double geraniums. The pelargoniums are much more troubled with aphis; in damp weather in spring without fire heat they drop their petals, and their season of flowering is not continuous. Two, or at most three, months of spring and early summer is their period of flowering; after that the plant makes a strong growth without flower.
As bedding or vase plants they are useless and to use them for such a purpose is a fraud on your customers. With all their lack of the ever-blooming qualities of the zonal geraniums, they are far superior as decorative flowering plants, and they are frequently seen in the windows of the dwelling house, growing and flowering as if they had found the very spot that suited them, and if not too warm the perfectly dry air of a living-room is, I believe, most congenial to them.