Perhaps you've noticed the carrot-like fragrance of bedding geranium leaves. A number of species pelargoniums have perfumed leaves -- with fragrances of spice, citrus, fruit, and flowers -- best enjoyed by rubbing the leaf surface or drying the leaves and using them in fragrant potpourri or sachets. Some have attractive foliage, but in most the bloom is modest.
Description of scented geranium: Scented geraniums are a diverse bunch with upright plants that can grow to 2 feet high, or more prostrate plants staying under about 1 foot high and spreading more horizontally. The leaves vary from finely cut, to broad and felted, to petite and rounded with an undulating leaf margin. Some are variegated with white. Open clusters of white, pink, or purple five-petaled flowers appear in summer.
How to grow scented geranium: Plant scented geraniums in well-drained but moist and moderately fertile soil, either in a garden bed or in a large pot during warm, frost-free weather. Provide full sun or light afternoon shade in hot climates.
Propagating scented geranium: By seed or cuttings. Sow indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last spring frost date. Germination occurs in 7 to 14 days at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Take cuttings of vigorous, young side shoots in late summer to winter over indoors and move outside again next spring. You also can take cuttings in spring and summer, allowing 8 to 10 weeks to root. Cuttings root more reliably when treated with rooting hormone before they are placed in rooting medium.
Uses for scented geranium: Scented geraniums make interesting potted plants, kept close to the house where you can partake of their fragrance frequently. They are a wonderful addition to the ornamental/edible garden, as lemon and rose forms can be called for in herbal recipes. They also can blend nicely into the annual border, adding subtle beauty and fragrance to more common plants.
Scented geranium related species: Pelargonium crispum has lemon-scented leaves, and a wide number of varieties including 'Variegated Prince Rupert' have been selected from it. P. odoratissimum is apple-scented, while P. grossulariodes is coconut-scented. P. fragrans smells like nutmeg. One of the most popular is P. tomentosum, which has a strong peppermint scent. P. 'Rober's Lemon Rose' is a favorite for herb teas.
Scientific name for scented geranium: Pelargonium species