Scented Geranium Plant Care

Botanical Name: Pelargonium spp.

Many types of geraniums are long-time favorites. But scented geranium species offer intensely fragrant leaves. Just a brush of your hand across the foliage of these scented-leaf geraniums will give off a delightful fragrance in a spectacular choice of scents.

Rose scented geranium plants (Pelargonium capitatum) have foliage so fragrant that their small, pink flowers are merely an added attraction. Another rose geranium is Pelargonium graveolens (shown below), a large, vigorous plant with deeply lobed, finely cut leaves. Lemon geranium (Pelargonium crispum) is especially aromatic -- even the slightest touch of its leaves releases a fresh, citrusy scent into the air.

Apple geranium (Pelargonium odoratissimum) has a delightful apple aroma with a hint of cinnamon. Wonderfully fragrant strawberry geranium (P. x scarboroviae) features a compact growing habit. Peppermint geranium (P. tomentosumhas a trailing habit with big, velvety leaves.

Buying Tips

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You can buy geraniums in garden centers and online in spring and summer.

Scented geraniums are typically light bloomers, so choose one based on the scent you like.

Citrus-scented geraniums have smaller leaves and compact growth, making them ideal for growing indoors on a sunny windowsill. Pelargonium crispum 'Peach Cream' has pink flowers and a peach aroma.

Rose scented geranium plants (P. graveolens), as shown at left, have intricately patterned leaves that look like snowflakes and a beautiful rose fragrance. It is a vigorous variety that should be pinched back often to prevent it from getting leggy.

Year-Round Care for Scented Geraniums

Shed some light. Give your scented geranium as much light as you can spring through fall. Move it outdoors for the summer, if you like. Just bring it back indoors when the temperature drops below 50°F/10°C. This is a tender perennial that doesn't like the cold.

Pinch your plant. Pinch off stems regularly to encourage branching and to maintain an attractive shape. Also, remove spent flowers to keep your plant looking neat and to promote more blooms.

Repot in spring. Geraniums bloom best if slightly pot-bound. Move your plant to a pot 1 size larger or keep it in the same pot and just give it fresh soil. Get tips for repotting here.

Overwinter care. Most scented geranium plants never go dormant. You can keep your geranium in bright light year-round. Water less in winter because the growth has slowed, but don't allow soil to dry out completely. If you want to give your plant a rest in winter, you can keep it in a cool basement or garage with a minimum temperature of 50°F/10°C. During this rest, water sparingly.

Scented Geranium Plant Care Tips

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Origin: South Africa 

Height: 12-18 in (30-45 cm)

Light: Bright light to full sun

Water: Keep soil evenly moist, not soggy. Allow surface of soil to dry between waterings. Cut back on watering in winter, but don't allow the roots to dry out completely.

Humidity: This plant will tolerate average indoor humidity (around 40-50%). If air is dry, use one of these easy ways to increase humidity for your plants.

Temperature: Cool nights (55-60°F/13-16°C) and warm days (65-75°F/18-24°C) will trigger flower buds.

Soil: Peat-based soilless mix

Fertilizer: Feed every 3 weeks spring through fall with a high-phosphorus liquid fertilizer diluted by half.

Propagation: Take stem cuttings in spring and early summer and root in fresh potting mix. Geraniums are easy to grow from seeds, too. Start seeds in December for mature plants the following spring and summer.

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