Care of Scented Geraniums


Grown in pots on the patio, scented geraniums provide gentle fragrance with the slightest touch. Available in a wide range of scents from delicate rose, lavender and apple to spicy pepper and uplifting citrus, these tender perennials create mood and atmosphere. Typically grown in the U.S. as annuals, geraniums do not tolerate frost and must be moved inside in late summer before the threat of frost arrives.

Step 1

Select a location for scented geraniums in full sun. Although they will survive with less light, scent will be inhibited. Oils responsible for their fragrance require 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight to develop fully.

Step 2

Till the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and amend with generous amounts of organic matter. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure over the soil and work it in well to provide nutrients and to improve drainage. Geraniums require well-drained soil; they suffer in soggy soil.

Step 3

Plant scented geraniums in the soil once all danger of frost has passed in your area, as frost will damage foliage and stunt growth.

Step 4

Fertilize with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer (like 20-20-20) at planting time following the application rate on the container. Fertilize again in mid-summer. Geraniums do not require additional fertilizer.

Step 5

Geraniums prefer slightly dry soil, so allow soil to dry between waterings. Water deeply to saturate the soil to the root level once a week to encourage good root formation. Scented geraniums grown in pots or containers require more frequent watering. Check daily for signs of wilting and check the soil often for dryness.

Step 6

Pinch out center leaves on the terminal ends of stems if plants begin to get leggy. This forces the plant to send out new leaves along the stem and encourages dense compact growth. Repeat every two weeks if necessary.

Step 7

Deadhead spent blooms as soon as they begin to fade. Clip or snap the stem of the bloom back to the base of the plant. Deadheading tricks the plant into thinking it has not produced enough seed to reproduce. This encourages reblooming.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tools
  • Soil amendments (compost/well-rotted manure)
  • Water-soluble fertilizer


  • University of Rhode Island Horticulture: Geranium Culture
  • Colorado State University Extension: Scented Geraniums
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: Growing Scented Geraniums

Who Can Help

  • University of Minnesota: Outdoor-Indoor Geranium Care
  • University of California Agriculture: Scented Geraniums as Culinary Treats
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Geranium Culture in Home Gardens
Keywords: scented geranium care, geranium care, growing scented geranium, planting scented geranium

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.