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No table in the greenhouse creates more excitement than the one that contains scented-leaf geraniums. These pelargoniums have leaves with tempting aromas of lemons, apples, roses, oranges, even coconuts. The most common question about these remarkable plants is: "How'd they get that way?"
Well, they grew that way naturally; nobody injected them with scent. These lovely plants, many of which are native to South Africa, are blessed with the same ability as aromatic herbs to manufacture chemicals in their leaves that have evocative scents. Over the years breeders have done their part to mix things up gloriously and present us with living potpourri that is just waiting for a hand to brush the leaves to release the unique fragrance of each plant.
Scented-leaf geraniums can be grown in good, well-drained, moderately fertile, garden soil or in containers with a soil-less growing, medium; the optimum pH is between 5 and 7. Scented geraniums grow rapidly and lushly and most of them are considerably larger and less floriferous than their more petite cousins, the bedding geraniums that are seen commonly; they are cold hardy to just 30°F and may be grown indoors through the winter. At least three hours of sun after 10 a.m. is sufficient for good growth, but full sun all day is best. Pruning stems encourages branching and controls plant height.
Leaves can be used in potpourri, jellies, salads, baked goods, and in tea.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Citronella'. Large citrus-scented leaves on a robust plant. Lavender flowers. Good container plant. Prune to shape this somewhat sprawling variety. Don't count on the plant driving away mosquitoes. The plant called "Mosquito Plant" is closely related to this variety but was proven long ago to be totally ineffective. The leaves do contain citronella (although other varieties may have higher a concentration), however the oil is only released when the leaves are brushed or bruised. Citronella oil is commercially derived from a relative of lemongrass, called citronella grass Cymbopogon nardus.
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Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Clorinda'. This is the best flowering scented geranium, and what a show it puts on with its large, orange-flushed cerise blooms. Leaves are eucalyptus-scented. Vigorous plants.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Frensham Lemon'. The small, maple-shaped leaves have an intense lemon scent when stroked. Delightful pink flowers on a 2-foot high plant.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Lady Mary'. Upright, compact growth habit. Dark green serrated leaves have a distinctive strawberry scent. Pink flowers. Use in potpourri, jellies, and tea.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Lavender Lad'. Tender Perennial. Two toned lavender and white flowers atop small, trailing, moss-green leaves. Use in potpourri, jellies, and tea.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Lemon Meringue'. This may be a sport of 'Mabel Grey'. Nice, sharp lemon scent on an upright plant that grows well in a container. Leaf shape resembles 'Frensham Lemon'.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Mint Peacock'. Tender perennial. Light-green foliage splashed with creamy accents has a mint fragrance. Use in potpourri, jellies, and tea.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Mrs. Taylor'. Tender perennial. Mildly scented variety produces unusual, deep red flowers in early spring.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Pretty Polly'. Tender Perennial. Pungent, some might say, almond scent with showy pink flowers. Use in potpourri, jellies, and tea.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Rober's Lemon Rose'. The scalloped leaves of this variety resemble tomato leaves but their scent is sweet lemon-rose. Ultimate height to three feet. Pruning will keep height manageable and encourage branching. Brush-marked lavender flowers.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium 'Velvet Rose'. Fuzzy, deeply notched leaves are rose scented. A real knockout. Height to 3 feet. Orchid flowers.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium capitatum 'Attar Of Roses'. This is an essential variety for any collection; the essence of rose-scented geraniums. Vigorous upright plants to 2 or more feet in a single season. Orchid-colored flowers.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium citronellum 'Mabel Grey'. An amazing lemon aroma; possibly the most fragrant of any scented-leafed geranium. Upright growth to nearly four feet. Keep plants pruned to encourage branching and to control height. A perfect variety to train to a single stem topiary.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium fragrans 'Cody's Nutmeg'. This gray, soft-leaved plant has always been a favorite of mine because of its strong nutmeg fragrance. Strong stems rise from a rosette to form a bushy specimen a little over a foot high that is excellent for pots and hanging baskets. Small white blooms appear often throughout the summer.
Scented Geranium.Pelargonium graveolens 'Grey Lady Plymouth'. A wonderful rose-scented variety whose large, sage-green leaves have a hint of white around their margins. Height is 2 to 3 feet. Lavender flowers.
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