These plants have been favorites of herb and indoor gardeners since Victorian times. With fragrances of fruits, flowers, spices, or even chocolate, scented geraniums delight the senses. Brush against the leaves to release their strong aroma. Their tactile leaves can be fuzzy or smooth, and they come in a wide range of shapes and hues. Most varieties also have small clusters of pale pink or white flowers in summer.
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Planting Scented Geraniums
Choose a planting place where you are sure to brush against the leaves from time to time to enjoy their aroma. Add scented geraniums to colorful container plantings or integrate them near walkways in herb gardens or perennial beds.
Scented Geranium Care Must-Knows
Plant scented geraniums in full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil. These easy-to-grow plants tolerate sandy soil and dry conditions with ease. They languish in wet, clay soil. When planting scented geraniums in a container, select a pot that has adequate drainage and choose a high-quality potting soil. Clay pots are an excellent choice as they allow the soil to dry more thoroughly than plastic pots. Scented geraniums rarely need fertilization.
Related: Guide to Growing Tropical Plants
Scented geraniums may be grown as annuals or they can be overwintered and enjoyed year after year. There are several ways to successfully overwinter scented geraniums. Overwinter them as a houseplant by bringing containers indoors in fall before frost and placing plants in a bright, sunny window. Reduce watering plants while they are indoors, allowing the soil around the roots to dry before watering. Or, you can overwinter scented geraniums as dormant plants by bringing container-planted specimens indoors before the first frost and storing them in a dark corner of a basement or in a frost-free garage. Allow the plant to go dormant by not watering during winter. Bring plants outside when the last chance of frost passes in spring.
More Varieties of Scented Geranium
Pelargonium scabrum is a shrubby plant with hairy lobed leaves that have a sweet, fruity scent. It bears pink to white flowers from early spring to summer and grows 12-24 inches tall and wide. Zones 9–11
'Angel Eyes Light' scented geranium
This selection of Pelargonium is a bushy trailing plant that grows 10-15 inches tall and wide. It bears profuse bicolor flowers in shades of pink. The flower color is deeper pink during cool seasons, fading to lighter pink in summer. Zones 9-11
'Chocolate Mint' scented geranium
This Pelargonium tomentosum variety is named for the maroon splotches along leaf veins rather than the scent of the plant, which is minty, not chocolaty. As leaves mature, the brownish coloration fades. The plant develops pale lavender flowers and grows 1-3 feet tall and wide. Zones 9-11
Pelargonium grossularioides is also known as gooseberry geranium or gooseberry-leaved scented geranium for the shape of its scalloped leaves. The plant grows as a spreading groundcover, reaching 6-12 inches tall and 12-18 inches wide. In California it has escaped cultivation to become a weed. Zones 9-11
Fernleaf scented geranium
This cultivar of Pelargonium denticulatum ('Filicifolium') is known by several common names, including fernleaf, toothleaf, and pine-scented geranium. It has finely divided leaves with toothed edges and a strong piney fragrance. Small pinkish-purple flowers develop above the lacy foliage. It grows 18-36 inches tall and 12-24 inches wide. Zones 9-11
'French Lace' scented geranium
Pelargonium crispum 'French Lace' is an upright sport of 'Prince Rupert' scented geranium. The pale pink flowers stand out against the plant's deeply lobed leaves, which have a strong lemon scent and variegated creamy yellow margins. The plant grows 12-18 inches tall and wide. Zones 9-11
This variety of Pelargonium crispum is also known as 'French Lace' geranium because its leaves have wavy margins and are closely stacked on the stems, giving the plant a frilly appearance. The foliage has a strong lemon fragrance. Pale pink flowers appear sporadically. The plant grows 12-36 inches tall and 6-15 inches wide. Zones 9-11
'Mabel Grey' lemon-scented geranium
Pelargonium citronellum 'Mabel Grey' is often considered the best of the lemon-scented geraniums. It has sharply lobed hairy leaves and bears pink flowers with darker reddish-purple veins. It can grow up to 4 feet tall, making it a good choice for topiary standards. Zones 9-11
'Mini Karmine' scented geranium
This Pelargonium cultivar looks its best in hanging baskets or window boxes, where you can enjoy the plant as it trails over the edges. It features bright magenta flowers and finely cut foliage. Zones 9-11
'Old Spice' scented geranium
This type of Pelargonium fragrans is a selection of nutmeg-scented geranium. It has gray-green rounded and lobed leaves with a spicy aroma. Another common name is sweet-leaved geranium. The plant grows 12-18 inches tall and wide, and bears small white flowers. Zones 9-11
Pelargonium tomentosum is a spreading subshrub with fuzzy silvery-gray leaves. True to its name, the plant emits a strong minty aroma. It bears tiny white flowers with purple splashes in the throat. It grows 1-2 feet tall and spreads up to 4 feet wide. Other names include peppermint geranium and pennyroyal geranium. Zones 9-11
Pelargonium graveolens is also called velvet rose and sweet-scented geranium. The deeply lobed hairy leaves have a strong scent of roses. They are sometimes used for commercial production of geranium oil, a substitute for attar of roses in perfume production. Flowers are small and pinkish-white. Plants may grow 1-3 feet tall and wide. Zones 9-11
'Snowflake' scented geranium
This variety of Pelargonium capitatum has rounded leaves flecked with white. The scent is a combination of citrus and rose, and the plant is sometimes listed as a rose-scented geranium. Plants grow 12-18 inches tall and wide. Zones 9-11
Spanish lavender-scented geranium
Pelargonium cucullatum is a shrubby plant that can grow up to 6 feet tall in the wild, but in cultivation it is more likely to grow 12-24 inches tall and wide. It is also known as hooded-leaf geranium because its hairy leaves are cupped upward, resembling a hooded cloak. It is one of the parents of regal geraniums and, like the regal types, requires cool nights for its pinkish-purple flowers to develop. Zones 9-11