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A Horticultural Grimóire

Scented Geranium

Scented Geraniums 
(Pelargonium spp) Geraniaceae family 
*Approximately 600 different species* 
Also known as: Rose Geranium or T'Namie 


Pelargoniums were introduced to Britain in the mid 17th century to expand the Royal Gardens.  The French perfumers started utilizing them in the mid 19th century - over the years there have been hundreds of species cultivated from these lovely plants. The leaves are usually soft and fuzzy and release wonderful fragrances when touched. With over 600 varietals ranging from Rose to Almond in scent, these plants are an easily cultivated addition to any herb garden! The Oil of Rose Geranium is extracted from the Pelargonium Graveolens (the original Rose Scented Geranium) and used in aromatherapy and making perfume. Rose Geranium is also available in essential oil form at many local health food & esoteric shops (i.e., Whole Food Store, Apothecary D' Orleans and several other sites). 

Cultivation Techniques

Cultivation: Full sun, open area, well drained soil.  Native of Good Hope, South Africa.  Hardy from zone 8B through zone 11, otherwise can be over-wintered in the house if grown in pots (cut back a third of the plant prior to bringing in for the winter) Height: 1-3 ft. 

Classification: Tender Evergreen Perennial, hardy to approx. 25°F.

Germination: Seeds, Cuttings and Water. Usual propagation method, Cuttings. Roots very easily in sand. 

Seeds: Sow seeds in early Spring 20 inches apart. (Not all species produce seeds) 

Cuttings: Take 4-6 inch cuttings mid morning after the dew has had time to dry from the months of July-Sept. Here are three different rooting methods used for cuttings: a. Remove bottom leaves, dip in root toner hormone, immediately pot (Rooting time 14 days). b. Remove bottom leaves, place into a plastic bag then into to a cool location overnight to allow the cutting to heal, set into sand filled starter tray the next morning (Rooting time 40 days); Water: Place cuttings into a clean glass with water, place glass in a bright indirectly lit area, change water daily (Rooting time 26 days) 

Growth: Water only when soil is dry, these plants appreciate lots of direct sun and a good breeze. They also tend to enjoy being root bound. Prune liberally to encourage dense foliage growth. Remove spent flowers to encourage further flowering. Prune and Fertilize after flowering. If you are pulling them up from the garden bed to bring them inside, take cuttings and wait a few weeks to fertilize. These plants are absolutely intolerant of frost, they must not be left outside on a night that it might freeze. Older leaves have a stronger scent then the younger more tender growth. The only known pest attracted to these plants are mealy bug, which can be easily removed with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol. 

Harvesting & Preservation: Pick leaves at any time prior to flowering, fresh flowers are used in salads. Fresh leaves used in sauces, custards, jellies, cookies, cakes, butters, jams, syrups, vinegar's, wine, general cooking, and to flavor sugar. Dry leaves are used in potpourri and sachets Parts of the plant used:1) Leaves and Flowers: Culinary and Cosmetic (Add to bathwater and face cleansers)/ Medicinal/ Leaves and Oil 

Medicinal Uses

Medicinal uses: Leaf: Essential oil extracted from the leaf is used in massage for premenstrual tension, fluid retention, dermatitis, eczema, herpes, dry skin and as an insect repellent. Oil is tonic, antifungal, antidepressant and antiseptic. Simply smelling the oil is rumored to lower blood pressure. This oil has also successfully treated dysentery, head lice and ulceration's of the stomach and upper intestines. I am having a difficult time sifting through abstracts and have been unable to locate any e-monographs for this plant. * Caution: After personally rubbing the P. graveolens leaves on my legs (for insect protection) the skin turned a bit pink, indicating this might be an allergen. Possible side effects would be- allergic skin reaction or inflammation. *

Meaning in Language of herbs: happiness (among several others, see link below) 

Magickal Uses

Love (pink flowered species), Sexual Appeal, Fertility (white flowered species), Health, Protection Planet association: Venus Elemental association: Water Gender: Feminine Rub leaves on door knobs and windows for protection, said to be an aphrodisiac herb, use to enhance sex appeal or to draw love Oil is worn by those seeking sexual fulfillment Does not combine well with Patchouli Essential oil can be used as a substitute for Otto of Roses 


Some of the varietals include: 

p. graveolens - rose scented 
p. odoratissimum - apple scented 
p. fragrans - Nutmeg/spice scented 
p. crispum - Lemon scented 
p. tomentosum - Peppermint scented 
p. x nervosum - Lime scented 
p. x.citrosum - Orange scented 
p. quercifolium - Almond scented 

Individual Plant descriptions with a good introduction to the plants and photos 

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This site last updated:  21 Aug 2003 12:05 PM -0500