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Scented Geranium Basics

 

Adding scented geraniums to a garden or home will increase the "scents-ual" enjoyment

They're not exactly "true" geraniums, but fall under a very broad genus known as Pelargoniums. The variances in plant and leaf shapes and colors are as vast as their range of fragrances. Some are bushy while others are compact or trailing. Scented geraniums are a delight in the garden or in a container. The scent glands, which are located on the underside of the leaves, will spread far and wide.

Scented geraniums are not grown for their flowering abilities at all. It's all in the leaves, which are used in the kitchen and for scented florals and sachets. The dried flowers make an excellent addition to potpourri.

Most varieties are easy to grow and will provide years of lasting enjoyment. While they are perennials, scented geraniums can survive best outdoors in Zone 10; otherwise, they should overwinter indoors. Give them about four hours of morning sun and let them go a little dry between waterings. Many growers treat them as annuals and take cuttings before the first frost for indoor cultivation.

They do best outdoors, however, and prefer a cozy container where they can enjoy a little rootbound activity.

Once a pest infestation occurs, isolate and give healthy doses of insecticidal soap.

When adding scenteds to a plant collection, plan according to size, growing habits, and soil conditions. Most nurseries will have the complete information at hand. It's so nice to intersperse these species with other plants. When working in the garden or flowerbed, you'll always "run into" a lovely fragrance.

Many species will enjoy plenty of morning sun, but will not last long if taking a direct hit in the afternoons.

Remember that most varieties do not have impressive flowering habits. Most produce small blooms that are colorful, but not showy.

Do not overfeed as that will affect their scent. A commercial blooming plant food is fine, but use it at half-strength.

Last, but certainly not least, the scented geranium was voted the 2006 Herb of the Year by the International Herb Association.

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