Rose scented geranium plant

Scented Geranium Rose
Botanical Name: Pelargonium graveolens

The Rose Scented Geranium is an erect, multi-branching evergreen shrub growing to 1.3 M high by 1 meter wide. It is herbaceous when young, but as the branches age they become woody. The stems are hairy and the leaves have a covering of many glandular hairs, which create a soft velvety texture. The leaves have a strong rose scented aroma. The leaves are mid green, palmately lobed and heart shaped at the base. The flowers have 5 light pink petals and are held in pseudo-umbels, or loose clusters. Each petal has a distinctive set of crimson coloured stripes extending out from the centre. The flowering period is from late winter to summer, with a peak in spring.

The Rose Scented Geranium has the genus name ‘pelargonium’ which comes from the Greek word ‘pelargos’, meaning stork. This is a reference to the shape of the fruit which looks like a stork’s beak. Pelargoniums are called ‘storkbills’ in some areas of the United States. The species name ‘graveolens’ means ‘strong smelling’ in Latin and refers to the strong fragrance in the leaves. This species has many hybrids and cultivars that have been developed to take advantage of the strong fragrance. Common names may include Rose Geranium and Old Fashioned Rose Geranium.

The original wild variety of Pelargonium graveolens is quite uncommon and is confined to only two limited regions in South Africa. Each has hot summers and mild winters, with varying rainfall. The plants grow in hilly or mountainous areas, usually in sheltered and moist positions. The cultivated variety of P. graveolens is said to be a hybrid of the original wild type. Many additional hybrids and cultivars have since been developed and are highly valued as ornamental plants by gardeners.

Pelargonium General Notes

Pelargoniums are evergreen perennials, sharing many common characteristics with the Geranium species. They range in height from 30- 100cm and may be categorized based on varying leaf shapes, such as crinkled, oak or fern leaf shapes. The leaf colour may vary from deep to light green, with flowers generally held in loose clusters. Most prefer to grow in full sun and they are also drought and heat tolerant. However, some varieties do require some shade and moist conditions where possible. Many grow near streams in their native habitats, but generally ‘less is more’ is a good guideline for watering these plants. They do not like to be damp at all.

This group of plants were initially catalogued by Linnaeus into the same Genus as Geraniums, but were separated into separate genera in 1789. Pelargoniums were taken to England in 1631, but it is likely they were transported to Holland in the earlier 1600’s. Since early times various varieties have been developed and many are now cultivated commercially for the essential oils used in perfumery and aromatherapy.

The Pelargonium genus is one of five in the family Geraniaceae, which has over 800 species. This includes the separate Geranium genus, which often causes confusion since ‘geranium’ is also used as a common name for the many Pelargonium species and cultivars. There is thought to be 270 species of Pelargonium, with 219 being native to South Africa. Among these, there is a number of genera or subtypes of pelargonium based on features such as leaf type. Of this selection about 80% are native only to select areas in the southern regions of South Africa. The remaining 20% are found in Australia, New Zealand and a few select areas such as Madagascar and Eastern Africa. There are now cultivated varieties all over the world, most with origins in South Africa. The true Geranium species is a hardy group of plants native to North America and Europe.

The Geranium plant family is an important food source for certain Lepidoptera species in their native regions. For more information on our other Scented Geranium listings.

Growing Conditions

Most pelargoniums enjoy full sun, but Rose Scented Geranium is one variety that requires more shelter. Pelargonium graveolens grows very well in semi-shaded positions and is good as a filler plant in larger gardens. It requires a moist, but not damp environment, with well- drained soil.

This plant also grows well in containers and hanging baskets. In cold regions it may even be taken indoors, but may be better treated as an annual if this is not possible. Although, not very tolerant of frost some plants may die down and return when the weather warms in spring. It may be propagated by tip or stem cuttings taken in autumn or spring.

Culinary Uses

Pelargoniums are usually suitable for culinary use, particularly the leaves and flowers. They may be used for herbal teas and to sweeten and scent desserts such as cakes and jelly. The most commonly used are those with rose, lemon and peppermint scents. Leaves may be cut and placed in ice cube trays for later use in iced tea or other suitable cold drinks.

A tea infusion may be made using 3 teaspoons of freshly chopped leaves, or 1 teaspoon of dried leaves, and 1 cup (250mls) of boiling water. Let the leaves steep, strain and then drink as needed. There are several varieties suitable for a tea infusion, but it may be a matter of taste.

Medicinal Uses

Many South African varieties of Pelargonium have a history of traditional medicine use by local tribes. General traditional use has included treatment for digestive and respiratory ailments, wounds, burns, ulcers and abscesses, cold sores and sore throats. The active chemicals are slightly astringent so they are good for skin care, oily skin and cleansing the pores. Overall the pelargonium species are seen as having value for creating a relaxing and uplifting feeling, while calming nerves, anxiety and aiding depression. There is also value for use in premenstrual tension and for those seeking an essential oil for creating a soothing and balancing effect on the body. Different varieties may have different effects.

The strongly scented Rose Scented Geranium, Pelargonium graveolens, is one of the best plants in this genus for traditional medicine use. Several active chemicals, in this species, have been determined to be beneficial for having antibiotic effects and nerve pain relief. Research has indicated it is helpful for nerve pain associated with shingles. It is thought to also have a soothing effect on the skin when used to bath rashes, skin irritations or simply used in bath water.

Other Uses

Many of the scented pelargonium species and varieties are cultivated especially for their use in perfumery, aromatherapy and massage therapy. Rose Scented Geranium is often used as a substitute for Rose of Attar. The oil is extracted from the leaf and stems of the plant.

Scented Geraniums: Planting, Pruning, Fertilizing, and Using

Grown for their uniquely scented and often ornamental leaves, Scented Geraniums are fast growing and highly tolerant of variable soils and conditions. They vary in heights and widths. Some are more tolerant of cold and some are more tolerant of shade. Stroking their leaves or splashing water on them on a hot summer’s day is joy not to be missed. Wherever you put them, make it close to you. You will want to brush against them often. Plant patches of them in all your garden beds so that when you prune your other plants you will become engulfed in their fragrance. Here are a few things to consider once you decide to add Scented Geraniums to your garden or patio.

HARDINESS: Scented Geraniums die if they get too cold. Here in Zone 8, we usually have good luck with the larger leaved varieties surviving in the ground as long as we don’t actually reach our average winter time temperature of 10 degrees. We are rarely below the mid 20’s and they do fine. They will die back to the ground but return (most years) in the spring. Smaller leaved varieties, like Lemon Crispum and Prince Rupert, do best in Zone 8 if their dead stems are left until the plant has grown up around them in the spring. Often these stems are not actually dead, just dormant, and will produce new leaves in the spring. Larger leaved varieties, like Attar of Rose and Peppermint, may have their dead stems removed in winter or spring.

In Zones 9 and up, where these lovelies are evergreen, fall pruning of long and lanky stems to a fairly short length will produce a tidier, more attractive-looking shrub in the spring.

LOCATION: SOIL and SUN Scented Geraniums range from 12 inches tall (Nutmeg and Fringed Apple) to 3 feet tall (almost all of the rest of them) and from 12 inches wide to 8 feet wide or more. They mix well with other landscape plants to add color and texture. We have planted them at the top of walls and the bottom of hills. Scenteds (as they are often referred to) like it warm, sunny and dry. If you are having a hard time getting something to grow in a certain area, try a Scented Geranium.

If planting in the garden, the soil needs to contain enough air pockets to allow water to drain freely and enough organic matter to hold the moisture so that the plants don’t dry out too quickly. If water puddles where you want to plant, then choose another spot. Mulching the bare ground around your scented geraniums with compost or other organic matter will, over time, help create the perfect soil. As mulch breaks down, earthworms and other beneficial bacteria take essential elements below the surface, which not only enhances the texture of the top soil layer, but also helps to correct pH, which should be somewhere in the neutral range, and improve fertility. If you are not mulching, and your soil has poor fertility, then apply an all-purpose organic fertilizer once or twice a year.

If planting in a container, use a high quality organic potting soil with lots of texture and organic fertilizer. Our three-inch pot should be transferred to a pot that can hold about three gallons of soil. Each spring, check the root ball to make sure it has not filled up the pot. Root bound Scented Geraniums should either be repotted into a container at least two gallons larger or root pruned and returned to the same container with fresh soil added. Container-grown Scented Geraniums will need continual fertilization with an all-purpose organic fertilizer throughout the growing season.

Scented Geraniums love the sun, but most do well in partial shade in southern areas. A Scented Geranium that does not get enough light will be leggy and will develop fewer essential oils. Sometimes you just have to try the plant in an area to see if it will be happy.

PLANTING: Scented Geraniums should be watered in the three-inch pot before trying to remove them. Plant them at the same depth they are in the pot; not planting deeper or higher. Dig a hole just big enough to plant the starter Scented Geranium and water well. Check often to make sure the little plant’s root zone is not dry. Until it takes off into the soil around it, the original root cube needs to stay moist. This usually takes about a month depending on the time of year. Be sure to gently firm your little plant into the ground so it makes good contact with the native soil, but don’t smash the soil so hard that the soil becomes overly compacted.

WATERING: Once established, Scented Geraniums don’t take a lot of water but they do need some. Leaves should never be allowed to wilt but the soil should not be wet enough to make mud pies. In humid areas, drip irrigation is advised to keep moisture off the leaves. Keeping the leaves dry helps to thwart fungal diseases. If you use drip make sure to expand the wet area as the plant grows bigger. Overhead watering is not usually an issue in a container or in a hot, dry climate. Indeed, watering overhead in a dry climate cleanses the leaves of dust which is a healthier environment for all plants. How often to water is an age-old question that can only be answered by each gardener. Sites, soil and conditions vary to such an extent that only on-site inspection can answer this question.
A water meter can help the novice gardener to be more confident in their watering acumen. Be sure to place the meter within the root zone for an accurate reading.

PEST AND DISEASE: In humid areas where plants are crowded, white flies and fungus can be an issue. Giving plants proper space to grow and adequate sun and air movement will go a long way toward keeping this insect away. The only other pest we have noticed that can devastate a Scented Geranium is the slug or snail. Peppermint Geranium seems to be more of a beacon for these pests than other varieties. Sluggo is an effective organic slug and snail killer. Growing Scented Geraniums among other flowering plants will provide a diverse haven and encourage beneficial insects to take up residence in your garden. Full sun, good air circulation and proper drainage will go a long way toward discouraging diseases

PRUNING: The only reasons to prune a Scented Geranium is if it outgrows its space, has dead stems or needs to be shaped. They are perfectly happy left alone. If you do prune, be sure to use the leaves for crafting or cooking.

CRAFTING: Leaves of Scented Geraniums add interest to fresh flower arrangements. Peppermint, Peacock, Skeleton Rose and Mint Scented Rose are really nice in small bouquets. They last about a week in water. All Scented Geraniums can add add bulk and fragrance to potpourris and sachets when dried.

CULINARY USE: Scented Geraniums have been used in cooking for centuries. Normally, we don’t really eat the leaves but use them as flavoring and scenting agents. Attar of Rose Geranium leaves packed into apple jelly or laid at the bottom of a cake pan before the batter is poured add a bit of Je ne sais quoi, that little bit of some indefinable extra. Lemon cripsum leaves were often layered with sugar and left to scent the sugar. Today, there is more use for the beautifully colored flowers than the leaves (which frankly can be a bit hairy)! The delicate flowers can be added to salad or stir fry. They can also be candied and used to decorate desserts. All of our Scented Geraniums are safe to use in cooking as long as they are grown organically.

Scented Leaf Pelargonium plants by post to UK and Ireland

2020 Season
PreOrder now for Spring
dispatch begins late March or April 2020 weather permitting and subject to weekly availability

click Shop Scented Leaf Pelargonium at top bar to view our Collection of approx 140 different named types of
Scented Leaf Pelargonium – often referrred to as Scented Geraniums

our potted jumbo starter plants are NOT baby plugs and neither are they a mature plant
we take the hard work out of raising baby plugs to get you off to a good start
scented geraniums are non uniform in growing habit, from compact to very large
this is reflected in the size of potted jumbo starter plant supplied
we do not release any plant until we are confident that they are well rooted and of a good size
**we do not recommend scented geraniums for gardening novices, basic growing knowledge is required to achieve success**

P. pink capricorn, rose lemon scented leaf pelargonium
photography by scentedgeraniums.co.uk

Assisting you to make an informed choice of which named type of scented geranium to grow whereFor help with how to browse or search our Scented Leaf Pelargonium Collection please click the link.

Scented Geraniums are a fascinating and diverse group of aromatic plants with highly fragrant leaves, for homes and gardens. Scented Leaf Pelargonium, as well as being intensely perfumed plants, are classified as herbs and the leaves have many uses in recipes, aromatherapy, medicinal preparations and as a sensory aid.

**please do not order if outside the UK and Ireland, we do not deliver to other countries**

we constantly update our website to keep it current

How to Grow Scented Geraniums

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Scented Geranium Collection

Joy Logee Martin, Byron’s mother and the second generation owner, loved her scented geraniums. It wasn’t unusual to find scented geranium leaves pinned to her lapel. “Scenteds,” as they were often called, were popular in the early 1900’s and although they didn’t have big showy flowers like their cousins, their surprisingly fragrant foliage made them the shining stars in bouquets. It wasn’t unusual to have scents such rose, lemon, lime, orange, nutmeg, almond, apple, anise, pine, musk, violet, lavender, balm, oak, or peppermint emanating from a grouping of flowers.

“Scenteds” have other uses too. They were often found in sachets and potpourri bowls or their leaves would be placed in a crystal bowl of water and the fragrance would waft throughout the household. The Rose Scented Geranium became popular in cooking. It wasn’t unusual to have rose flavored honey or rose flavored shortbread, simply by soaking the leaves and extracting the rose flavor out of the leaves and then using the liquid as a food flavoring.

Certain conditions are required to enhance the flowering and foliage of growing Scented Geraniums.

Growing Conditions
Like so many in this genus, they tolerate dry conditions making them excellent subjects for the container gardener. Since Scented Geraniums are dry land plants, they need a period of dryness between watering where the soil is brought to visual dryness or even a slight wilt of the foliage. Then fully saturate the soil and let the water run through. If wet conditions are a problem, a clay pot is a good choice for your container since it allows the soil to reach dryness quicker than glazed terracotta or plastic containers.

Rose Scented Geranium
‘True Rose’ (Pelargonium hybrid)

Logee’s Scented Geraniums
Blooming in our Greenhouse

Light Levels
Scented Geranium plants need high light levels to perform well. Full sun is the optimum light exposure. Scented Geraniums need a south-facing window or they should be placed in direct sunlight outside during the warmer months. They can also be grown in an east or west window but there will usually be some stretching of the stems and leaf petioles making the plants a bit “leggy.”

Temperatures
These native South African plants do well under a variety of temperatures and they can adapt to extremes of hot and cold mimicking their native habitat. However, they are frost sensitive and need to be kept above freezing.

Flowering Cycle
The flowering cycle starts in the late winter or early spring and is induced by the increasing day length and cool nighttime temperatures where the nights dip into the 50’s to just above freezing on a constant basis. With the increased light level, flower buds form. This is followed by a period of nonstop blooming that continues until warm nights force the plants out of bloom. Depending on the weather in Connecticut, we have seen them bloom from early spring into late June.

Fragrance
Fragrant foliage is the reason most Scented Geraniums are grown. To test the scent, simply brush or squeeze the foliage with your fingers and then bring your hand to your nose and inhale deeply. The scents are simply stunning. Scented Geraniums have the following fragrances: spice, rose, citrus, woody, fruit and mint.

Pruning
Pruning is done after flowering and discontinued in late fall so the new growth of early winter can be subjected to the decreased day length and the cool nights that bring the plants into flower.

Fertilizer
Apply a balanced fertilizer every two weeks in a dilute solution. Container grown plants need some fertilizer but it’s best to not overdo it and err on the lean side, because over-fed plants can quickly become rank and unmanageable.

Growth Habit
The best plants are stocky in stature with short leaf petiole and internodes. And although there is a considerable difference in growth habit between the species or cultivars, when grown a little lean on the fertilizer, they make better specimens.

Insects and Disease
Generally, they are free of insects, although whitefly can bother them as well as aphids in the spring. And with the needed dryness, the root systems are generally free of disease.

Hanging Basket
Scented Geranium

Hanging Basket Display
Some varieties like ‘Apple’ and ‘Logeei’ make great hanging baskets since their stems are naturally pendulous. The rose scented and lemon scented geraniums do better as potted plants for the windowsill or summer patio since their growth habit is more upright.

Overall, Scented Geraniums are easy to grow, especially when given the right amount of fertilizer, bright light and dryness between watering. Scented Geraniums are a mainstay in our greenhouses and we can’t imagine our gardening space without their fragrant foliage.

View PDF Care sheet

A Recipe For Rose Geranium Cake:

Isabel Gordon Curtis’s Rose Geranium Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (Calumet)
  • Whites of 4 eggs

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Cream butter and sugar. Add alternately water and flour mixture, then whites of eggs. Whip hard 5 minutes. Line loaf pan with buttered paper and rose geranium leaves. Carefully add cake batter. Bake at 350 degrees until tests done. The geranium leaves can be pulled off with the paper. Note: To intensify the rose flavor, add a few drops of rose extract to the cake batter. You can also use scented geranium leaves when making a standard pound cake recipe.

Sources:

The Complete Geranium: Cultivation, Cooking, and Crafts by Susan Condor.

http://history.librarypoint.org/scented_geraniums Scented Geraniums Were Stars In Victorian Valentine Bouquets, by Barbara Crookshanks.
April 9, 2015.

Frequently Asked Questions

A. This is a very often asked question, with a few different answers. We certainly have many of our customers who have methods that they have been using for years and have been passed down through families and the first rule of gardening applies: If it works, keep doing it. We have heard of things from shaking the soil from the plants and putting them upside down in brown paper bags in the attic, to placing them in an ice chest in the basement. Also suggested was in dry cleaning bags in the garage and in an old dish pan under the ping pong table. As I said, if these work, that is great, but geraniums are an annual plant. And, as such, geraniums have no dormant season, so people are not putting them to sleep for the winter, they are pushing them to the edge of death and then yanking them back in the Spring. All of these things are a testament to how tough geraniums actually are, but they are an annual, not a perennial, so they do not die back and begin new growth each year, they continue growing from the same plant structure. So, gardeners will see that after saving them for a few years, they will begin to lose vigor, and start having smaller leaves and smaller, less frequent blooms. The best thing that you can do, if you would like to save them, is to take a few cuttings and generate, new, fresh plants in the fall, that you can grow indoors over the winter and take back out in the Spring. That is basically what we do, here in the greenhouse, starting with new plants from cuttings each year in the late summer, for the next year. But, if that doesn’t work out, just try bring plants indoors and keeping them growing. You will need a bright spot, ideally a south or west window, and just cut the plant back by about 1/3 to 1/2 and bring it inside. Just like in the summer, you will want to water your geranium sparingly and with less plant and shorter days and less light, that might end up being every week or ten days. Even so, you may get a little spindly growth, as the plant reaches for the light, but do not worry about this. Just let the plant grow until the first or second week of March and then cut it back again, to have a bushier plant when it is ready to go back outside. And speaking of outside, get them out as early as possible, even if you have to protect them at night. Give one or more of these methods a try; it will be a good gardening experiment, at the very least and what do you have to lose?

Geraniums

Geraniums languish in the heat, so move them to a shadier location for the summer.

(NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune)

QUESTION: I have two potted geraniums on my balcony in a sunny exposure. They have stopped blooming, and the leaves have turned light green. Was this because of the sun, the heat or time of year? I have started watering them more often and moved them to places where they were exposed to fewer hours of direct sun. — Peggy Anders

ANSWER: Geraniums love sunny conditions and are quite drought tolerant, even preferring to dry somewhat between waterings. What they do not like are days in the 90s and nights in the 70s. They always languish during the summer here.

Flowering is reduced or stops; and what flower heads are produced are smaller, less attractive and last a short time. The foliage generally gets smaller and paler. This is all due to heat stress.

Moving the plants to a shadier location, especially in the afternoon, is a good idea for the summer. When daytime highs are back in the 70s and low 80s, move them back to full sun.

There is no need to fertilize now as the plants are not growing vigorously and will not effectively use it. Watch your watering. Geraniums do not need more water during the heat. Indeed, keeping the plants constantly moist will often encourage root and stem rot when temperatures are high and the plants are weakened by stress — so don’t overdo watering.

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geranium.buds.spent.jpg

Geranium buds can fizzle if the plants move to a new location before the flowers open.

(George Weigel)

Q: I bought hanging baskets of my old dependable ivy geraniums in early May. They look beautiful and sent up flower buds. The stem is green, but the blossoms die before they open. Any suggestions?

A: One thing it could be is plants trying to adapt to a new environment. I’ve seen all of the buds fall off of geraniums soon after the plants are moved from garden center to home.

One reason is that the plants weren’t “hardened off” or used to the outside light and air because they were grown and sold in a protected greenhouse.

It’s a shock to a plant any time it moves from one growing condition to another, especially if the light, temperature and watering regularity changes. Some plants are more sensitive to that than others, and in my experience, geraniums are among the more “temperamental.”

If my hunch is right, your plants should send up new flower shoots that open and bloom normally in the next few weeks. The fact that the plants are looking fine otherwise tells me they’re probably not suffering from disease or a root-rot problem.

Ivy geraniums do best when temperatures are above 65 degrees, so that cool spell we had back in mid-May also might’ve been responsible for some of the bud failure. That’s another case that will fix itself now that summer is nearing.

If you don’t see improvement soon, I’d start to wonder about other things, such as lack of light or nutrition.

Ivy geraniums do best in morning sun with some afternoon shade. In too much shade, flowering goes downhill, and the plants get leggy. Your usual geranium site hasn’t been getting shadier from growing trees, has it?

Plants in baskets also need regular nutrition for best flowering since so many nutrients get washed out with all of the water that container plants need. Try fertilizing them with a balanced flower fertilizer once a week at half-strength to see if that helps.

If the leaves start discoloring and buds keep wilting and dropping, then you’re likely experiencing a root disease. Cross that bridge if/when you get to it. My guess is that your plants will bounce back on their own.

Scented Geranium Care: How To Grow Scented Geranium

Scented geranium plants are a sensual delight in any home or garden. Their varied and textured leaves, the bright colors of their flowers, the scented oils they produce and the flavor they can add to food and drinks appeal to all five of our senses. How many other garden additions pack so much punch into one small plant?

About Scented Geraniums

Like their fellow hothouse cousins, scented geranium plants at not true geraniums at all, but members of the Pelargonium genus and are considered to be tender perennials. They are treated as annuals throughout most of Europe and the United States and their beauty is appreciated all over the world. It’s an added bonus that they are so easy to grow!

Scented geranium was originally found in Africa and brought back to Holland by early explorers. From Holland, the popular houseplant migrated to England in the 1600s. They were particularly favored during the Victorian era when the fragrant leaves were added to fingerbowls for guests to rinse their hands between courses at dinner.

From those original African plants, horticulturalists have developed the wide variety of scented geranium plants we enjoy today. There are now over a hundred varieties with different shaped and textured leaves, flower colors and aromas.

If you’re familiar with growing scented geraniums, you know that the varieties are first categorized by their scent. Mint, rose, citrus and chocolate — yes, that’s CHOCOLATE with no calories — are a few of the more popular scents available. Leaves of the scented geranium run the gamut from smoothly rounded to finely cut and lacy and from grey-green to dark. Their tiny flowers range from white to shades of lilac and pink to red, often combining colors.

Tips for Growing Scented Geraniums

Scented geranium care is pretty basic. You can grow them in pots, indoors or out, or in the ground. They prefer lots of sun, but may need some protection when the sun is at its strongest. They aren’t fussy about soil type though they don’t like wet feet.

Fertilize them lightly and sparingly while they’re actively growing. Scented geranium’s biggest downside is they tend to get leggy and need to be trimmed back to promote bushiness. Over-fertilization will only increase this problem.

Don’t throw those trimmings away, though. You can easily grow scented geranium from cuttings to replace older plants or to give as gifts to friends. You might want to line a sidewalk or path with plants grown from your cuttings. Whether in containers or in the ground, grow scented geraniums where they will be touched as the leaves need to be brushed or crushed to release the aromatic oils.

Before the first frost of fall, dig up your plants to bring indoors or take cuttings for winter growing. Scented geraniums do well indoors under the same conditions as out. Keep them in a sunny window, water regularly and fertilize very little.

Scented geranium care is so easy both indoors and out, it’s a wonder every gardener doesn’t own at least one. They’re the perfect patio or balcony plant. Not only do they offer fragrant leaves, lovely flowers and exquisite scent; they’re edible! The leaves can be used to flavor teas, jellies, or baked goods and the aroma therapy is free for the taking. So never mind the roses. Stop and smell the scented geranium.

How to propagate scented geraniums from cuttings. Basically, how to create free plants from pieces of a parent plant. Unlike more common garden geraniums, scented types have rosy scented leaves and flowers.

by Karen Creel

People often ask me how can they have a great garden when they don’t have a lot of money. My answer is always the same. Buy perennials and herbs that are easily divided or propagated by cuttings. While they do have small pretty flowers, Scented Geranium’s leaves are their claim to fame. Just brushing against the leaves releases their aromatic oils into the air. This makes them perfect for a scented garden, grouped into pots on the patio, lining your walkway, or on your kitchen windowsill. Scented geraniums are usually found in the perennial or herb section of the nursery. I buy mine from a friend who is an herb grower.

Scented Geraniums are different from garden geraniums

Scented Geraniums are a great choice for the gardener who wants a lot of bang for their buck. Purchasing three scented geraniums can yield 9 or more plants for next year’s garden.
When buying your scented geraniums, don’t be fooled by the name. They are different from the garden geranium we buy at our local garden center known for their colorful flowers. Scented geraniums are tender perennials from the pelargonium family.

Scented Geraniums come in a variety of scents

  • Rose Geranium
  • Lemon-scented Geranium
  • Mint scented Geranium
  • Fruit and nut Scented Geranium
  • Spice scented Geranium
  • Pungent Scented Geranium
  • Oakleaf Scented Geranium

With over 100 varieties I’m sure there is at least one every gardener will love. Names such as Attar of Roses, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Apricot, Nutmeg, Southernwood, and Pheasant Foot, make you want to become a collector of Scented Geraniums. There is even a Chocolate Mint!

The leaves of scented Geraniums are also highly fragrant

How to Propagate Scented Geraniums

You can propagate at any time of the year, but in the fall the flowers have been able to grow all summer and will have a good choice of stems to choose from for taking a root cutting.

1. Choose a healthy stem and go up above at least three leaf joints from where the growing point of the stem begins. With a clean, sharp, knife, cut the stem just below that leaf joint. Take more cuttings than you think you will need in case you lose a few. You can always share any extra with your friends.

2. Remove any new leaf growth nubs with your finger. Just push them up with your thumb. Remove any leaves that will be below soil level.

3. Fill a small pot that will drain well with your choice of potting soil. I just use a regular potting soil that doesn’t contain fertilizer. Some people recommend sand and perlite, while others say just plain sand. I think the most important thing is that the pot will drain well. Your cutting will rot if it is over-watered, or your pot will not drain.

4. You may use a rooting powder if you like, but I don’t. If you choose to, tap off any access powder. With rooting powder, less is better.

5. With your finger or pencil, create a hole in the soil, and place your cutting in it. Do not place any leaves under soil level.

6. Firm down the soil around the cutting and water sparingly. Don’t saturate the mix. Pinch back the top of the plant to encourage it to put its energy into making roots.

7. You can either place outside in indirect light or bring inside in bright indirect light. Allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again. The stem will rot if it is overwatered. Keep out of direct sunlight to prevent cooking your cuttings!

8. You can tell the cutting “takes” when the pinched back top starts branching out and starts forming a bushy little plant. It can take anywhere from several days to several weeks. As long as your cutting continues to look healthy and green it’s okay.

9. Bring indoors before the first frost to overwinter. A sunny window is a great place to enjoy your cuttings.

Scented geraniums are so easy to propagate and care for that there is no reason you shouldn’t have these fragrant plants in your garden. And remember, when you are taking your cuttings, take enough to share with your friends!

Caring for Scented Geraniums in the Garden

  • While they prefer lots of sun, the leaves will sunburn if they don’t have some protection when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Don’t overwater. Scented Geraniums do not like wet feet and will rot if over-watered. If they are in pots, be sure they drain well, and use a potting soil that drains.
  • If in the garden, amend your soil so that it drains well, and is not in a place that water remains after a rain or watering.
  • Fertilize lightly and sparingly. Scented geraniums have a tendency to become leggy and over fertilizing will only make this worse. You will need to trim back to keep their shape bushy.
  • Before the first frost, bring indoors.
  • Keep the pots in a sunny window. Water when the soil becomes dry, and pinch back regularly to maintain shape.
  • After a few years you may want to discard your original plant. They have a tendency to become woody and produce less and less leaves and flowers.

Karen Creel lives on 4 acres in North Georgia. Her garden is one acre in size and includes a large vegetable garden, grapevines, blueberries, and strawberry beds. Chickens and ducks free range. This year was her first year having a CSA garden where, along with a friend, she provided a weekly box of fresh vegetables, herbs, and eggs.

Karen is a mother and grandmother and has been a nurse for 38 years. Future goals include honeybees and a greenhouse and besides gardening, she enjoys going to flea markets and repurposing finds in the garden and home. She also makes natural bath and skincare products often using the harvest from her garden. Find her on her blog Garden Chick.

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