Scented geraniums (Pelargoniums) grow very well in the Central Valley and Foothill regions of California. They make the perfect patio plant with outstanding fragrances and have flowers too.
The scented geranium’s origins are mostly from Africa where these native Pelargoniums thrive. Some of the strongest scents are from those varieties. Hybridization of the native forms has led to over 250 new varieties (cultivars) which possess unique qualities. Some of the strongest scents are peppermint, lemon, lime, orange, black pepper, nutmeg, apple and rose.
The cultivars provide an endless variety of fragrances, many of which are undetectable by my nose but the plants have other desirable qualities.
The scenteds grow in many forms, some are very upright, and others are bushy, sprawling or trailing in habit. The rewarding aspect is that many of these plants are available at our local nurseries.
We can also acquire the plants by mail order from growers in the San Francisco bay area (check our links to nurseries). As an ardent grower I have found certain varieties which are very ‘trainable’ and can be pruned and shaped into tight compact forms or tree (standard) forms. The categories displayed on this page will help you in selecting the plant or plants to meet your expectations. Scented geraniums are also used in cooking, baking and hot and cold beverages.
A good source for recipes is ‘Scented Leaf Pelargoniums’ by Diana O’Brien of Australia printed in 1983. The book is out of print but used copies are available on the Internet.
Varieties that love to be pruned and shaped:
- Lady Plymouth
- French Lace
- Pelargonium ‘crispum’
- Little Gem
- Candy Dancer
These are the most fragrant
- Aroma green apples
- Attar of roses strong rose
- Candy Dancer lemon/rose
- Citronellum (Mabel Grey) strong lemon
- Pelargonium ‘crispum’ strong lemon
- Pelargonium ‘dichondrifolium’ black pepper
- Pelargonium x ‘fragrans’ nutmeg
- Lady Plymouth mint/rose Lime lime
- Pelargonium ‘odoratissimum’ strong apple
- Prince of Orange Orange (heavy bloomer)
- Pelargonium ‘tomentosum’ strong peppermint
These varieties are used in food and beverage recipes
- Pelargonium ‘Citronellum’ (mabel gray)
- Pelargonium ‘graveolens’
- Old fashioned rose
- Red ﬂowering rose
- Rober’s lemon rose
- Pelargonium ‘limonium’
- Pelargonium ‘tomentosum’