At a Glance:
hortorum syn. Pelargonium zonale 'Crystal Palace Gem'
Geranium, Zonal Geranium
Annual/ Tender Perennial
2" across red single flowers in a pseudoumbel form
Variegated foliage that has a green center with chartreuse to yellow
12" - 16"
Annual in Zones 4-9
full sun to afternoon shade
mail order/ retail
I have to confess that whenever I begin
to think of geraniums (syn. Pelargoniums); my mind
starts to wonder and I get sleepy! Just how many shades of red, pink and
white can the breeders come up with? Even though I get paid to take data on
100’s of annual geraniums each year I’m hard pressed to tell the difference
between some. So you can imagine my surprise when I actually came across a
geranium that abruptly woke me from my slumber! It was ‘Crystal Palace Gem’
an exotic type of Zonal Geranium due to its unique foliar variegation. Who
cares if it flowers! This one has the brightest variegated foliage around in
early spring, and amazingly enough it tough enough to last up into
Zonal Geraniums have been around for a
long time! In fact, they were first cultivated in
England by the Duchess of
Beaufort in 1710. These bedding plants are considered to be an annual in
most parts of the
United States (Zones 4-9) but in
tropical parts of the world it is grown as a tender perennial. Here in
North Central Texas Geraniums don’t seem to strive in our high pH and heavy
clay soils but if you plant this beauty in a container watch out! Crystal
Palace Gem’s beautiful contrast between the chartreuse green variegated
foliage and the bright red flowers will surely stop you in your tracks. It
even received a Best in Class award in 2006 from
Minnesota. In general, this
variety will perform best from April to June and can last longer if it has
some afternoon shade.
Palace Gem has an excellent compact habit and grows 1’ – 1 ½’ tall and
wide. The flowers are bright red and borne singly in clusters. Now this
variety of annual geranium is not the heaviest bloomer but it doesn’t need
to be. The foliage is round and has slightly scalloped edges with beautiful
chartreuse variegation that will brighten up any spot in your garden. Like
I stated earlier, it makes an excellent container plant and looks marvelous
planted in full sun with Bacopa, Trailing Petunias, and Diascia.
This sun loving annual likes to be
planted in well drained soil. Since its origin is from
South Africa it doesn’t mind
staying on the dry side but should be kept moderately moist. Annual
geraniums have a hard time handling our hard summer heat but may be able to
pull through it if they get a little afternoon shade. Keep in mind that this
plant will need at least 6 hours of sunlight in order to perform at its
best. For best floral display keep this plant dead headed and fertilized
well with a slow release granular fertilizer like Osmocote.
‘Crystal Palace Gem’ should be available at your local retail nurseries in
4” or 6” containers. If you can’t find it locally break out your computer
and do some searching on Google.
About the author: Denise Robb is
the Research and Greenhouse Manager at the
for more information on the trial program.