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Scented Geranium
by Lynda Heavrin - posted 08/09/13


A mixed container of ‘Atomic Snowflake’, ‘Chocolate Mint’, ‘Fair Ellen’, ‘Lemon Kiss’, ‘Spanish Lavender’ and ‘Variegata’.

It is summer and we reach for the bug spray, citronella oil or a candle to burn to keep the mosquitos at bay while we enjoy the beautiful evening. As you may know, citronella oil is obtained from citronella-scented geranium (Pelargonium citrosum). However, did you know that there are approximately 150 varieties of scented geranium that are not only beautiful garden plants, but can be used for potpourri and as flavoring in cooking?

The variegated varieties seem to be the most popular for specimen plants, but for my garden I prefer ‘Lemon Kiss’ for the finely cut leaves and the intoxicating lemon fragrance. Do not grow scented geraniums for the flowers, as they bloom very sporadically. In fact, I have not seen flowers on most of the 30 varieties we grow in the greenhouse. However, you will have no trouble finding a scented geranium to meet your needs whether as a decorative plant or to create a culinary delight.

Common Name: Scented geranium

Botanical Name: Pelargonium spp.

Color: Mostly lavenders, pinks and whites

Type: Annual or tropical

Size: Depending on the variety, can be prostrate or grow up to 4 feet

Light: Full sun

Soil: Any lightweight garden soil, without too much peat

Watering: Water well then allow to dry slightly.

Fertilizer: Light fertilization every few weeks throughout the year will keep plants healthy.

Uses: Specimen plant in the garden, houseplant, culinary herb

Propagation: Cuttings of non-patented cultivars; very few scented geraniums are true from seed.


The beautiful variegated leaves of ‘Frosted’.

A rare flowering variety, ‘Lavender Lad’.

From Indiana Gardening Volume III Issue IV. Photos courtesy of Lynda Heavrin.

 


Lynda Heavrin is the manager of landscape and horticulture at Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at Lynda.Heavrin@ci.ft-wayne.in.us.