By Wayne Handlos, Ph.D.

1.    2.    3.    4.    5.

1.‘Creamery’      2.‘Botham’s Surprise’  3. ‘T & M Yellow’  4.‘First Yellow’ flower & 5.leaf

The color range in zonal geraniums/pelargoniums, while wide and pleasing to the eye –

conspicuously lacks two important colors: yellow and blue. Pale yellow flowers are found

in many species of Pelargonium but is not present among the commonly grown cultivars.

True blue flowers are found in some of the species of Geranium but none of the Pelargoniums.

Hybridization between species of Pelargonium and Geranium does not occur so the search

for a blue flowered Pelargonium continues. However, hybridization between certain species

of Pelargonium is possible and has brought us closer to a yellow flowered zonal Pelargonium.

Faye Brawner’s book, Geraniums – The Complete Encyclopedia, has an extensive review of

the "yellow-flowered geranium" (p. 138), though none are illustrated. She considers them

under the heading of "Species Hybrids".

The earliest of the yellow flowered hybrids was named ‘Creamery’ and was produced by Sam

Peat. It was a hybrid between the species P. quinquelobatum and a dwarf white zonal named

‘Fantasie’ (‘Fantasia’?)

To date – all "yellow" cultivars have ivory to cream colored flowers – attractive but not the intense,

 bright yellow that most people might have expected.

Currently in the market, the yellow-est of the cultivars was introduced a few years ago as ‘First

Yellow’ by the firm of PAC Elsner. It was patented in 2010 as #20906 ‘Pacyell’. It was described as

a hybrid between ‘Botham’s Surprise’ and an unnamed zonal. More recently ‘First Yellow Improved’

was introduced by the same firm. It was patented as ‘Pacyellim’, #22877 in 2011 and described as

an offspring of a cross between two unnamed selections.

According to Faye Brawner ‘Botham’s Surprise’ was introduced by PAC Elsner and in her experience

it was nearly identical to ‘Thompson and Morgan Yellow’ aka ‘Yellow Primrose’ and ‘Yellow Ribbons’

which was introduced by the well-known seed and nursery company – Thompson & Morgan. The third

look alike was named ’Butterball’ and sold by Shady Hill Gardens. All three cultivars have ivory colored

flowers, thick fleshy stems, are semi-dormant during winter and produce few blooms. (The parents of

these three cultivars are not known to me.)

Another line of breeding to achieve a yellow flowered Pelargonium was carried out by Cliff Blackman

in Australia using various zonal and ivy-zonal hybrids crossed with the species P. articulatum. This series

of hybrids has been named the "zonartics". Images of these plants can be seen on the website and A

description of Blackman’s work can also be found at . He did name

‘Aussie Gold’ from this breeding but it does not appear to have been much of a commercial success.

Another yellow-flowered plant in this line is ‘Vanilla Sky’.

Another cultivar named ‘French Vanilla’ has been released by the firm Selecta. It is described as off-white

or creamy and has not gained much popularity from its introduction in 2008. It is in a series of theirs called

Sunrise. (There is another ‘French Vanilla’ cultivar among the scented leaved Pelargoniums, but it is named

for its scent rather than its flower color.)

The story continues.


© 2015, Central Coast Geranium Society (CCGS )