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University of Illinois Extension
Herb Gardening

Scented Geranium

Scented Geranium

Pelargonium sp.

Tender Perennial

Description

There are literally hundreds of types of scented geraniums to choose from.  The wide array of types allows you to choose plants that are tall (2-3 feet) or almost cascading in habit. Foliage size and shape also varies as will foliage color and texture. They can range from greens to variegated to steel blue in color and be coarse to smooth in texture.  While scented geraniums do flower, the flowers are often secondary in importance and not all that attractive. They are mainly grown for their attractive and highly scented foliage. Fragrances can run from apple to mint to lemon to coconut to rose.  Because they will not overwinter outdoors in cold climates they are best grown as container plants so they can be moved indoors for the winter. 

Culture

Scented geraniums are most often grown from tip cuttings that root easily.  They prefer a full sun location.  They can be grown in garden beds and then dug up and moved indoors for the winter but are most often treated as container plants that can then be easily moved indoors for the winter.  Containers should have ample drainage holes and be filled with a prepared soil mix.  Keeps soil uniformly moist allowing it to dry between waterings.   Apply liquid fertilizer about every two weeks during the growing season to maintain plant quality and vigor.  Occasional pruning or pinching will help to maintain a nice plant habit.  Before frost move the plant indoors to a bright light location.  Water as needed and reduce the frequency of fertilizer application.  If the plant is large, cutting it back before moving it indoors is suggested.  This makes the plant easier to handle and often results in a plant that is better able to make the transition from outdoor to indoor growing. 

Harvesting

Leaves can be harvested as needed and used fresh or dried for later use.

Use

Leaves are used as flavorings for deserts, beverages, vinegars and jellies.  The more pungent and spicy types of scented geraniums are often used for potpourri, sachets and perfumes.  

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