How to Select Scented Geraniums

How to Select Scented Geraniums image by Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Scented geraniums are wonderful perennial plants. Scented geraniums, called pelargoniums, come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Their leaves are scented so that when they are brushed, they give off fragrances from rose to chocolate, mint to fruits. It is easy to tell scented geraniums, or pelargoniums, from regular geraniums by their flowers. Scented geraniums have five petals of which two are upper petals and three are lower petals. In regular geraniums, the five petals are alike and spaced around the center. Scented geraniums often have irregular, speckled or other novelty leaf shapes and colors.


Step 1

Start by choosing how to plant your scented geraniums. They do not survive hard freezes though some tolerate light frost. They can be grown as annuals in harsh climates. Another option in cold climates is to plant a scented geranium in a container that can be sheltered in winter. A geranium can be grown indoors in a sunny space. Use well-drained soil. Water indoor plants only when the soil is dry. In mild climates, plant directly in well-drained soil and prune heavily to promote dense foliage.

Step 2

Choose rose geraniums for their lovely rose fragrance. Rose is the most popular scented geranium. Many people like rose geraniums for the smell of roses without the fuss of tending a rose bush. They are evergreen in mild climates and indoor planters. The rose geraniums are most likely to survive cold winters and grow back in spring. Their oils are often used in the perfume industry.

Step 3

Select chocolate mint geranium for a fun and unusual geranium. Chocolate refers to the brown leaf fingers often found in the center of mature foliage, not to the fragrance. This popular plant has mint scented leaves. The flowers are white to lavender. It grows up to 2 feet tall. Some gardeners use the flowers in salads as an edible flower accent. This plant can tolerate more cold than smaller-leaf geraniums. It may die back in freezing weather and come back from the roots in spring.

Step 4

Try citronella or citrosa geraniums as mosquito repellent plants. Some gardeners say brushing the foliage of these geraniums releases a scent that mosquitoes avoid. Other gardeners say the geraniums do not chase off mosquitoes. It may depend on the area mosquitoes or the strength of the scent. The plants have a lemon or citrus scent and grow 1 to 4 feet tall. Grow in full sun and pinch back the plant to encourage lush foliage.

Step 5

Plant a wide variety of scented geraniums for a fragrant garden. Fruit scented geraniums include apricot, apple, pineapple and lemon. For kitchen plants try ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon geraniums. Keep a small potted geranium in your favorite scent as an indoor winter plant. Brush its leaves to remember the seasons to come.

Tips and Warnings

Scented geraniums are available at garden centers. More unusual varieties are available at specialty nurseries and online shops.

About this Author

Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.

Photo by: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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