THE OTHER ZONAL PELARGONIUMS – 4. YELLOW-FLOWERED PELARGONIUMS
By Wayne Handlos, Ph.D.
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
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 floweredPelargonium 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
www.geraniaceae-group.org/zonartic and www.geraniaceae-group.org/developing_zonartic. A
description of Blackman’s work can also be found at www.geraniumsonline.com/zonartics . 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 leavedPelargoniums, but it is named
for its scent rather than its flower color.)
The story continues.