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Growing Scented Geraniums

by Don Janssen, UNL Extension Educator

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Scented geraniums provide heavenly aromas when grown either outdoors in your garden or indoors on your windowsill.

Scented geraniums generally are categorized by aroma. They come in rose, mint, fruit, spice and other pungent fragrances. A popular rose-scented plant is 'Rober's Lemon Rose.' Its soft, gray-green, two-inch leaves are deeply lobed. The scent is a strong, lemony-rose and the flower color is medium pink.

Mint varieties include 'Joy Lucille' with red-marked pink flowers and 'Godfrey's Pride,' a large rambling plant with a pungent mint scent, lobed green leaves and pink flowers. Some of the fruit and spice varieties include 'Ginger,' 'Frensham Lemon,' 'Lime,' 'Grapefruit,' 'Nutmeg' and 'Old Spice.'

Growing scented geraniums is easy. Grown out of doors, these plants do well in full sun. In hotter situations, it helps to shade them from the afternoon sun. Grow these geraniums in a well-drained soil of average fertility. Being light feeders, they like only an occasional dose of balanced fertilizer, especially following re-potting or planting outside.

Water when the soil becomes dry. Outdoor containers need to be checked frequently, but don't over water them.

Outdoor plants must be dug up and brought into the house for winter. Do this before the first frost - when night temperatures are getting down to 45 degrees. Indoors, plants require about four hours of sunlight a day. Feed them only if they begin to look light green and keep them fairly dry. Some gardeners cut back the plants by one-third before bringing them in the house, and some simply prefer to take cuttings.

Most scented geranium varieties require some cutting or pinching back. You can pinch back with scissors or your fingers on the green part of the stalk, removing stem tips above a leaf. Be sure, however, to leave several leaves on the stalk because that's where the plant will branch out.

When selecting scented geranium plants, remember to rub the leaves lightly between your fingers to get the full impact of the aroma. Scented geraniums are used for aroma therapy, unusual taste treats and for their visual appeal. With a little effort, you can grow these plants to delight your senses year-round.

This resource was added April 2008 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement

Photo Credit: University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office

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