Scented Geraniums vary in leave textures, colors, and scents, and are not considered to be true geraniums. Their scent comes from their leaves, not the flowers themselves, and their leaves are often ornamental. Their leaves can be either finely cut or broadly succulent, and their colors can range from lighter colors to darker ones. Each flower has five petals; two larger upper petals and three smaller lower petals.
Scented Geraniums are part of the same family as true geraniums, but they are part of a different genus and are not considered true geraniums. They are part of the Pelargonium genus and are considered to be tender perennials, which are perennials that come from warm climates where they don’t need the ability to withstand cold winter temperatures. When planted in cooler climates, they need special care.
Scented Geraniums are categorized by their scents: rose, lemon, mint, spice, pungent and fruit. Each scent has its own variations, but these are the main categories. As of right now, there are about 80 varieties of Scented Geraniums available, but at one point in time, there were more than 250.
The original herbs were introduced to Europe in the early 1600s from South Africa and were so popular that in 1652 the Dutch East India Company had established trade in the plants. By the 1700s the Scented Geraniums were being grown in large quantities for the perfume business, and in the 1800s the Victorians cultivated them for decorative purposes and in folk remedies.
During World War l there were fuel shortages and the greenhouse production of Scented Geraniums and other ornamental plants was banned. Breeding of Scented Geraniums began to decline and many hybrid variations were lost. It wasn't until after World War ll that interest in Scented Geraniums once again began to grow and today that interest is still going strong.
Growing Scented Geraniums
Scented Geraniums have different growing needs from true Geraniums, and it's important to be aware of these needs before deciding to grow them.
Where to Grow
Scented Geraniums can be grown either inside or outside. If grown inside in a pot, they need to be near a window or area where they are getting plenty of sunlight. If it's during colder months, they'll do well near warm lights.
When grown outside, Scented Geraniums can be grown both in pots and in the ground. They range from 12 to 36 inches tall and can spread out between 12 and 96 inches. They can get quite large, so it's ideal to plant them in spaces where they have plenty of room to grow.
Growing Zones and Weather
Scented Geraniums can thrive in growing zones 9-12 and need full sun to partial shade. If they don't receive enough sunlight, they may develop lesser oils and a lighter fragrance.
The soil Scented Geraniums are planted in needs to contain enough air pockets to allow water to drain freely and enough organic matter to hold in the moisture and prevent dryness. They only need light fertilization; over-fertilizing would encourage overgrowth.
When established, Scented Geraniums don't require a lot of water but the soil should always be wet enough to be malleable. The leaves should stay dry to prevent fungal diseases from developing. Drip irrigation and water meters can help gardeners be more confident with their watering schedule.
Before the first frost of fall, it's ideal to dig up the Scented Geraniums and bring them indoors. You can also take cuttings for winter growing.
Step-By-Step Planting Guide
When planting Scented Geraniums, some of them can be started from seed, but others that are hybrids need to be purchased as live plants or cuttings.
If you're growing Scented Geraniums from seeds, they'll need to be grown in pots before being planted in the ground for germination to occur.
- Plant the seeds in a small container and cover lightly with potting soil.
- Keep the seeds in a warm place that is approximately 70 to 75° F.
- Keep the soil moist but be careful not to overwater.
- As the shoots begin to grow, continue to water them and tend to them.
- When the ground no longer frosts, the seedlings can be transported outside.
- Scented Geraniums can grow quite large and spread out when planted in the ground, so make sure you plant them where they have plenty of room to grow.
- If growing in pots, transport the shoots into a larger container and choose whether you would like them indoors or outdoors.
When planting Scented Geraniums, remember to plant them in the spring.
- Wait until the ground no longer frosts.
- If planting in the ground, space them apart to give them room to grow. Dig a hole big enough for the potted geranium to fit into and gently cover with soil.
- If transporting to a larger pot, pack the bottom of the pot with the soil of your choice and fit the geranium in.
Scented Geranium Cuttings
Late summer is the optimum time for rooting Scented Geranium cuttings.
- Cut a stem from a healthy growing Scented Geranium using a sterile knife, making the cut just below the leaf joint. Remove any buds and flowers. Cuttings can also be purchased.
- A 3-inch pot is ideal for a single cutting, while a 4 to 6-inch pot might be more suited for 4 or 5 cuttings.
- Plant the cuttings in simple damp potting mix. Avoid mixes with added fertilizer.
- Press the potting mix to remove air bubbles but try to avoid compressing it. Cover the pot with plastic and poke several holes for air circulation.
- Water the potting mix lightly after a week or when it feels dry. If there is too much moisture on the plastic, remove it.
- When new growth appears, this means the cuttings have rooted. They can be moved into individual pots.
Scented Geraniums Plant Gallery
Scented Geraniums are normally pest free because of their oils and thick leaves, but this particular Scented Geranium has caught this bee's attention.
The leaves and foliage of Scented Geraniums are a vivid and bright green.
The oils from Scented Geraniums can be distilled and made into floral-scented water and used for aromatic purposes.
This apple scented Geranium is sprouting a few small white flowers.
Scented Geranium blooms have five small petals in total.
These Scented Geranium flowers are just beginning to bloom, their buds barely opening.
This Apricot Scented Geranium has produced flowers in a gentle pink color.
These gentle red Scented Geraniums are enjoying some bright sunlight.
Scented Geraniums look great in pots indoors and give off lovely and natural fragrances to perfume your home.
You could also plant them in hanging baskets like other geraniums.
Scented Geraniums are very fragrant and can repel certain wild animals, like rabbits and deer.
Potted Scented Geranium
This lovely potted Scented Geranium has thick, healthy leaves with dark centers that secrete scented oils.
Buying Scented Geraniums
If you're looking to add some Scented Geraniums to your home, Amazon has some great options for seeds and live plants.
Lemon Scented Geranium Seeds
This Scented Geranium from Amazon produces a lemon scent and comes in three different quantities: 20 seeds, 50 seeds, and 100 seeds. These Geraniums also act as a repellent for mosquitoes and flies and are lovely to look at. This Lemon-scented Geranium can be found on Amazon here.
Live Rose Scented Geranium
This Rose scented Geranium comes in a 4-inch deep pot, and its scent helps to repel mosquitoes. This Scented Geranium comes in a lavender-pink color and is grown either inside or outside. You can find this Rose Scented Geranium here.
Peppermint Scented Geranium Seeds
This Scented Geranium has a delicious peppermint fragrance and has 5 seeds. The germination rate is high for these seeds, and the flowers bloom in white and lavender colors. Cultivating these geraniums is very easy, and you can find it here on Amazon.
Rose Scented Geranium Seeds
This Rose-scented Geranium comes with 120 seeds and is easy to cultivate. Scented Geraniums can grow as tall as 3 feet and can be grown either inside or outside. These seeds can be found here.
Or check out this list of top 40 online stores to buy geranium plants and seeds for more options.
How about some geranium resources?
If you're still not sure whether to get scented geraniums or real geraniums, check out these resources too -