Gardeners love annual geraniums for their big knockout blooms and easy care. But, in gardens were drought is common and high temperatures persist throughout summer, scented geraniums may be a better choice.
Scented geraniums are meant to be grown beyond its reputation for fragrant leaves or to ward off mosquitos. The single flower of the tender perennial looks good in a garden of herbs as well as in a planting bed edging a patio. But gardeners in very dry environments find this type of annual geranium easier to successfully grow through the summer.
Growing Scented Geraniums
The drought tolerant tendencies of scented geraniums make them a better choice for annual geranium lovers creating a xeriscape. Though, anywhere gardeners need, or want, to conserve resources, the scented geraniums will not disappoint.
While the fragrant Pelargoniums require routine watering, they will tolerate higher temperatures such as found in the desert southwest with dappled shade provided in the afternoon. Contrasting with the soft velvety regals or zonals, scented geraniums are better equipped having small flowers and highly dissected and pubescent leaves to withstand the ongoing no-cloud-in-the-sky heat.
Scented geraniums need well-draining soils and benefit from deadheading and simple pruning to keep the plant branching to form dense growth. Classified as a tender perennial, scented geraniums are only hardy in zones 10 and 11; it is time to take them indoors when nighttime temperatures reach 45°F.
Match Fragrance to Geranium Name
The group of Pelargoniums called scented geraniums cross a variety of species and cultivars. Although there are not nearly as many cultivars as are found among the zonal and regal types, scented geraniums have a bounty of fragrances.
In selecting a plant, a gardener may be wiser to first consider the fragrance sought. This selection is a small sampling of Pelargonium ideas:
- Apple – P. odoratissimum.
- Apricot – P. ‘Paton’s Unique.’
- Cedar – P. ‘Copthorne’ has large lobed leaves and mauve flowers with purple feathering.
- Citrus – P. ‘Peach’ has round ruffled mid-green leaves and flowers of purple and light pink with spotted toothed petals.
- Coconut – P. grossularioides.
- Eucalyptus – P. ‘Lady Plymouth’ has white variegated leaves and lavender pink flowers or P. ‘Clorinda’ with pinkish rose flowers.
- Lemon – P. ‘Candy Dancer’ has white to pale pink petals painted with darker feathered lines, P. cripspum ‘Variegated Prince Rupert’ or ‘Mabel Gray’ and ‘Citronella.’
- Lime – P. ‘Lime’ is a deeply dissected but smooth foliage.
- Mint – P. ‘Rollisson’s Unique’ grows curly leaves, a backdrop to the magenta flowers with deep purple and white feathering on upper petals.
- Orange – P. ‘Prince of Orange.’
- Peppermint – P. tomentosum has serrated silver grey pubescent leaves, ‘Snowflake’ is one cultivar.
- Rose – P. graveolens has heart-shaped deeply lobed leaves which are very fragrant or consider ‘Attar of Roses.’
- Strawberry – P. ‘Lady Scarborough’ with its crinkled leaves is a contrast to the soft pink flowers and dark whiskers.
Gardeners who want a trailing habit for their hanging baskets may want to grow the ‘Pungent Peppermint’ whose leaves are deeply cut and flowers white with mauve markings. ‘Roger’s Delight’ gives off a lemon fragrance and the petals a mix of red and pink colors. Unexpectedly soft, the nutmeg scent of P. fragrans comes from the gray green leaves; the small white flowers will light up a patio used for evening dinner.
Using Scented Pelargoniums
Placed wherever the scented Pelargonium foliage can be brushed against or leaves allowed to be taken in hand and crushed, will serve its purpose well. A container of the evergreen plant placed on a table nearby seating is worth giving up the space. Crafters and aromatherapy enthusiasts find double duty, using the dried foliage for potpourri projects. Gardeners utilizing companion planting may try scented geraniums among their vegetable plants.
First-time gardeners who have only grown the big clusters of annual geraniums may, at first, be lent down by the small single-petaled blossoms. But the abundance of petite blooms and the perfumed air created by a bed planted in mass with scented geraniums will reclaim its standing.