Scented Geranium is a flowering plant native to South Africa. The Pelargonium spp species produce scented and flavored oil much like herbs. These plants are not true Geraniums, but are available in a variety of different scents and flavors.
Scented Geranium Appearance
Some popular varieties of Scented Geraniums are chocolate, rose, cinnamon, and mint. The leaves feature glands at the base of the hairs responsible for the plant’s scent and flavor. The leaves range from round to lacy with colors of gray-green to lime green. The blooms have five petals–two large upper petals and three, small lower ones.
Scented Geranium Care: Light Requirements
Provide full sun from an East or West-facing window. Morning sun is ideal with some afternoon shade to protect the plant’s leaves from scorching. Full shade or low light is not recommended as the plant will become leggy and blooming inhibited.
Water Needs for Scented Geranium
Scented Geranium plants are drought tolerant and do not like soggy soil. Water the plant when the top 1 inch of soil feels dry when a finger is inserted. Water thoroughly until the moisture runs through the pot’s drainage holes. Once the pot has drained, dispose of the excess water in the saucer. While some underwatering is acceptable, prolonged dry spells result in leaf damage and decreased scent and flavor.
Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
Proper Scented Geranium care requires a well-draining soil. Do not add too much organic matter as nutrient-rich soil lessens the essential oil production of the plant. Keep the pH level of the soil between 5.8 to 6.3. Scented Geranium plants are light feeders. Fertilize the plant once every three to four weeks, during spring and summer, with an all purpose fertilizer diluted to half strength. Withhold fertilizer during the fall and winter dormant months.
Temperature and Humidity Levels
Scented Geraniums prefer warm and humid conditions to recreate their natural, tropical environment. Average household temperatures and humidity levels are acceptable. If humidity drops below 40 percent, supplement with a pebble tray. Fill the tray with small pebbles and water and place it under the pot’s saucer.
Harvesting Your Scented Geraniums
Snip or pinch the leaves, as needed, right above a node to encourage new growth. The leaves are best used fresh. Chop them to release the scent and flavor and use them in salads, soups, and as a light, herb-like accent.
Propagating Scented Geraniums
Propagate Scented Geranium plants from either seeds or cuttings. For cuttings, choose a 6-inch stem and remove all but the upper leaves. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and plant the cutting in a pot filled with vermiculite. Keep the vermiculite moist until the roots develop and become established. Transplant the cutting into a pot with the recommended soil type.
To propagate by seeds, fill a small container or a seedling flat with a seed-starting medium. Plant the seeds an eighth of an inch deep and cover lightly with soil. Mist the soil to moisten it and place the container in a warm place with bright, indirect sunlight. Germination takes place in approximately three weeks. Thin out the seedlings and transplant the remaining to their own pots.
Common Pests and Diseases
Aphids are pests to watch for on your Scented Geraniums. Their presence is often signaled by the sticky honeydew they leave behind on the plant. Spray the leaves with water to remove the pests without the use of chemicals.
Stem and crown rot are caused by the growth of soil fungus due to an excess of water. Reduce water frequency and amount. Ensure the plant’s soil is well-draining and not holding on to excess moisture. Remove any affected foliage and stems. When watering, pour the water directly onto the soil and not the plant.
Scented Geranium plants make beautiful houseplants with the added bonus of being edible. Available in a variety of flavors, you can collect a few and experiment with adding them to your favorite dishes.
Scented Geranium Care FAQ
Yes, Scented Geraniums are considered toxic cats and dogs.
Scented Geranium grows outdoors in USDA zones 10 and 11.
Repot your plant only if it becomes overly crowded in its current pot. Scented Geraniums bloom more readily when root bound. When moving to a larger pot, choose a pot only one size larger than its current container.
Use the leaves of the Scented Geranium for cakes, jellies, flavored sugars, and beverages.
Spread the leaves flat in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 200F degrees for 5-8 minutes. Store the dry leaves in an airtight container somewhere cool and dark, but not in the fridge.