June 20, 2011
Scented Geranium (Pelargonium spp.)
Scented geranium, the 2006 Herb of the Year and an annual in our Zone 7b gardens, is available in a number of flower colors, scents and leaf types. Like germander, it is not commonly used for culinary or medicinal purposes, but several new varieties created for use in the kitchen are gaining in popularity.
Scented geranium does well in North Carolina because of its resistance to deer and ease of care – it actually likes the heat and infrequent watering and little, if any, fertilizing. Pelargonium do flower, although not as prolifically or as showy as the more common geranium, but they are grown primarily for their aromatic and striking foliage.
Plant scented geranium in full sun and well-draining soil or in a container that can be brought indoors and placed in a sunny window through the winter. Be careful not to plant too deeply or you risk stem rot.
Gourmet scented geraniums are a new variety with edible leaves and flowers that are used as a spice in cooking. The flavors include: peppermint, nutmeg, orange, ginger and many more. Generally, the essential oils are used for flavoring and the leaves are not eaten.
Scented geranium leaves are used most often in potpourris, sachets and bath oils. Popular varieties include:
‘Attar of Rose’: fairly large with strongly lobed leaves and lavender pink flowers.
‘Citronella’: large leaf with strong lemon-like scent reputed to help repel mosquitoes when the leaves are crushed (however, we have no scientific evidence of this!).
‘Snowflake’: small, round lemon-scented leaves and pale lavender flowers.
Logan’s does not have all varieties all the time, but we do carry a good selection throughout the year. If you don’t see what you are looking for one day, chances are we will have it at some point, so just call ahead if you are looking for a certain variety.