Scented pelargoniums, also known as scented geraniums, produce scented foliage that releases fragrance when leaves are disturbed. The scent ranges from delicate apple blossom to the highly scented citronella plants marketed as mosquito plants. Scented geraniums require full sun to develop the volatile oils responsible for their characteristic fragrance. These tender perennials, often grown as annuals throughout the United States, require protection from frost. Although they can be stored in a cool place for the winter, taking stem cuttings to start new plants keeps pelargoniums alive throughout the year.
Select healthy new growth on the terminal ends of branches. Check for any signs of disease, discoloration or insect damage.
Clip a 4- to 6-inch section, making the cut 1/4 inch below a leaf node where a leaf joins the stem. This area is rich in growth enzymes and roots easily. Remove foliage from the bottom 2 inches of the stem cutting.
Pour rooting compound into a disposable cup or on a plate and dip the bottom inch of the cutting in the compound. Tap the cutting on the side of the cup to remove excess rooting compound. Dispose of any compound that has been exposed to the plant to prevent contaminating your rooting compound.
Insert the stem cutting into a mixture of one part perlite to one part peat moss so that the area covered with rooting hormone is below the surface of the soil. Firm the soil around the base of the cutting and water to moisten the soil. Several cuttings can be rooted in one seed tray. Allow 2 to 4 inches between cuttings.
Place in a northern or eastern window and allow the soil to dry before watering. Overwatering encourages root rot and prevents rooting. Roots form in two to three weeks.
Check for root formation by tugging on the seedling. If it resists your efforts, roots have formed. Pot in 4-inch pots and move to an area that receives bright filtered light.
Begin fertilizing once seedlings are established in about seven to 10 days. Dilute water-soluble fertilizer to one-quarter strength and apply every 10 to 14 days.