Garden Lifestyle

Scented Geraniums (Pelargonium species)

While gathering edible blooms from the wild this week, I noticed that the scented geraniums are blooming indoors in the greenhouse.

  • Scented geraniums are easily started from cuttings and come in an array of sizes and shapes, not to mention aromas! These were grown at the Ozark Folk Center, where they offer a good selection for sale. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Blooms are not large, however they are lovely, often with colored markings, and they are edible. Pictured here is a 'Red-Flowered Rose Geranium'.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • When choosing scented geraniums, let your nose be your guide. They range from rose, orange and lemon to nutmeg, coconut and peppermint, to name just a few.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • This grandmother specimen of 'Attar of Roses' with a delightfully old-fashioned fragrance is quite large. A stock plant like this can produce many cuttings, which is good since the Pelargoniums tend to get leggy and should be cut back regularly.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • 'Rober's Lemon Rose' is my personal favorite scented geranium for its delicate, lavender-pink, fragrant blooms, it's scrumptious signature scent combining rose and lemon, and its unusual-shaped leaves.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

While gathering edible blooms from the wild this week, I noticed that the scented geraniums are blooming indoors in the greenhouse. The plants in the Pelargonium genus are fairly easy to cultivate–they are tender perennials–so I grow them in pots as houseplants. Read all about the “pellies” as I call these endearing, aromatic plants.

Scented Geraniums (Pelargonium species)

Most of these perennial herbs are grown as houseplants as they are very tender. If cultivated in pots, they can easily be moved in and outdoors as the weather permits. They like full sun, but will tolerate some shade, and they need a well drained growing medium. Without pruning, some plants can grow quite large, reaching three to four feet in height and width. They have a tendency to get leggy, so pruning is recommended.

Scented geraniums bloom sporadically throughout the year depending on the variety, climate, and growing conditions. The different varieties have quite an assortment of flower colors in hues of white, yellow, pink, salmon, lavendar, and red.

To use the blooms, pinch them from the stems just before using, rinse gently and pat dry.

All flowers from this large family of perennial herbs can be eaten, however, generally only the scented ones are palatable. The leaves and flowers taste reminiscent of each variety; lemon geraniums have a citrusy flavor, rose geraniums taste perfumey and roselike, while nutmeg and ginger taste of those spices. The blooms have mild, pleasing scents and sometimes taste slightly sour, while the leaves are more intense and also have a green taste along with their named characteristic. I prefer to infuse the leaves or finely chop the more tender ones since some of the leaves are thick, tough and/or hirsute. I make lemon as well as rose geranium sugar with the leaves and also add them to cooked fruit desserts or baked goods and to savory pilafs and grain dishes.

Scented geranium flowers are excellent for candying. They are used in all sorts of baked goods from teacakes and breads to cookies and cakes. Their sweet perfume adds mild flavor to jellies, sauces, custards, ice creams, and fruit salads. Use them to garnish desserts, beverages, and salads.

Here is a link to a post that I wrote about how easy it is to root scented geraniums from cuttings. /item/9784/rooting-herb-cuttings

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