Pelargonium (scented-leaved group)
Common Name: scented-leaved geranium
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Geraniaceae
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Pink to white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 10-11. In St. Louis, grow as annuals in the ground or in containers. In the ground, grow in average to organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Water regularly during growing season. Best in full sun, but appreciates some light shade in the heat of the day. Promptly deadhead spent flowering stems. Pinch stems to prevent legginess and promote bushiness. Scented geraniums may be grown as annuals and repurchased each spring or they can be overwintered in frost-free areas. If overwintering is desired, several options are available: (1) as a houseplant by bringing containers indoors in fall before frost and placing in a bright, sunny but cool window with reduced watering or (2) as a dormant plant by bringing containers inside before first frost and placing them in a cool dark corner of the basement or frost free area of a garage. Cuttings may also be taken from favorite plants in late summer for overwintering or in early spring from overwintered plants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Scented geraniums are tender perennials that are typically grown in the St. Louis area as 1-3’ tall rounded herbaceous annuals. Although scented geraniums can have beautiful flowers, they are primarily grown for their aromatic foliage. When brushed with the hand or rubbed between thumb and forefinger, the leaves emit a strong scent. Common scented species include: P. capitatum (rose) P. crispum (lemon), P. denticulatum (pine), P. fragrans (apple), P. graveolens (rose), P. grossularoides (coconut), P. odoratissimum (apple) and P. tomentosum (peppermint). A large number of hybrids derived from the aforementioned species are also available in commerce. Most scented geraniums have clusters of small pale pink to white 5-petaled flowers that bloom in summer. Most have lobed green leaves. Dried leaves may be used in potpourris and sachets.

Problems

Poorly drained soils inevitably lead to stem and root rots. Watch for whiteflies and aphids, particularly on indoor plants.

Garden Uses

Foliage and flowers are not as ornamental as other geranium groups such as zonal geraniums or ivy leaved geraniums. Scented geraniums are perhaps best grown in areas where the foliage can be easily brushed or touched, such as in containers (e.g., patios or decks), hanging baskets, window boxes, edgings along paths or walks or houseplants. Also very effective grouped or massed in herb gardens. May be trained as standards.