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The Delights of Scented Geraniums

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

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By Ann McCormick

Scented geraniums are a perfect match for American gardens. Their fragrant foliage comes in many scents: rose, lemon, apple, and more. As a bonus, the leaves are just as sensuous to the touch – deeply crinkled, large and fuzzy, or silky smooth. Here’s a sampling of what’s available:

Rose
This is the parent of nearly all rose scented geraniums. Its deeply cut green leaves have a strong rose scent.

Nutmeg
Also called “All Spice” or “Fringed Apple,” this has a silky textured leaf and a pleasant spicy aroma.

Apple
This scented geranium with its fan-shaped leaves and apple-nutmeg scent was a special favorite of Victorian ladies.

Peppermint
Children enjoy the large fuzzy leaves of this rambling scented geranium. Give this variety lots of room in your garden or put it in a hanging basket.

Gray Lady Plymouth
This rose-scented geranium has deeply cut leaves with a gray-green color and white lacy edging.

Rober’s Lemon Rose
An excellent potpourri herb, Rober’s grows vigorously, producing deep green leaves and a lovely lemon-rose fragrance.

Citronella
Its mosquito-repelling reputation make this popular in the South. Enjoy the aroma but don’t expect the plant to repel many mosquitoes. Studies suggest it’s not as effective as once thought.

When planting scented geraniums in your garden, select a spot with fast-draining soil. If your ground tends to dry out quickly, mix in organic compost to help with water retention. Pelargoniums are succulents and aren’t happy in overly dry conditions. If you live in a particularly hot area, plant them where they get afternoon shade to avoid scalding the leaves.

I have grown pelargoniums in several climate zones with little or no problems with disease. The most common problems in the outdoor garden are fungal diseases brought on by soggy soil, overhead watering, or crowding. Correct by reducing the moisture or transplanting to a more open location. When growing scented geraniums in pots, feed and water as you would ornamental geraniums. Whichever way to grow them, I’m sure you’ll love their marvelous scent.