Geraniums are popular bedding plants. Their
non-stop blooms provide color all season long.
addition to bedding plants, there are also geraniums grown just for
their fragrant leaves. Called scented-leaved
geraniums, they resemble bedding plant
geraniums, but most have more uniquely-shaped foliage. They
are grown mainly for their fragrant foliage and it's amazing how many
different scents there are. Rose, lime, lemon, peppermint, chocolate
mint, apple, raspberry, citronella (mosquito), ginger, lemon rose,
coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, and apricot are just some of the
fragrances. The fragrance of scented
geraniums is most noticeable when its foliage is rubbed or
crushed. Scented-leaved geraniums
were named the Herb of the Year for 2006.
have been grown in herb gardens for centuries and were very popular
in the 17th Century. Their fragrant foliage was used as an air
freshener in the home and as a personal deodorant. During Victorian
times, their leaves were used in cakes, jam, wine, and skin creams.
Nowadays, their scented leaves continue to have many uses. Dried
leaves can be steeped in boiling water to make tea and dried leaves
are also used in sachets and potpourri. The essential oil in
rose-scented varieties is used by the perfume industry in place of
the more-expensive attar of roses oil.
are very easy to grow both indoors as house plants and in the garden
as bedding plants or in the herb garden. Indoors they grow best in
bright light and average to cool room temperatures. They can tolerate
temperatures as low as 50 degrees indoors. It's best to let the
potting soil dry between watering, especially during the cooler
temperatures of winter. I fertilize with Electra
Plant Food every few weeks throughout the year.
Outdoors in the garden, scented-leaved
geraniums thrive in full sun. They are very drought tolerant
and are a nice addition to a flower bed or herb garden. The smaller
ones make a nice edging plant along a path where their foliage can be
rubbed as you walk along, releasing the fragrance. They are also
excellent container plants. I like to grow some in containers that I
bring inside in fall and grow all winter long as house plants, then
set them back outside come spring.
As I mentioned there are many different
fragrances when it comes to scented-leaved geraniums. Rose-scented
geranium has attractive foliage that has a sweet, rose
fragrance. Its incised leaves are grayish green. It forms a handsome
mound about a foot and a half tall. Small, pink flowers bloom in
small clusters on tall stems.
While most scented-leaved geraniums have
insignificant flowers, there is one variety that combines both
scented leaves and very showy flowers. It was developed by an old
gardening friend of mine named Roger and it's aptly named 'Roger's
Delight' in his honor. It's a cross between a Martha
Washington geranium and a scented-leaved geranium and it has the best
attributes of both. Its foliage looks like a Martha Washington
geranium with crisp leaves and jagged edges. The scent of its leaves
is almost like lemons with a hint of rose. It bears very-large
clusters of flowers that almost look like an azalea or orchid. Each
deep-pink flower has a deep-purple splotch in the middle. The large,
showy flowers are held atop its foliage in clusters.