Container Gardening Should Include The Herbal Plant Scented Geraniums
By Mary Hanna
Planting an herbal garden that includes scented geraniums is not common to container gardening. Most gardeners think of scented geraniums as a floral plant, not an herbal plant but the species, called pelargonium, is an herb with many uses. This delightful herb has many different aromas and gorgeous colors to delight your senses. The scented geranium is best used in container gardening for two reasons. One, you can control the soil and moisture, and two you can bring it indoors when a frost is imminent.
The scented geranium was found in Africa in the 1600's and shipped to England where it became most popular. The gardener of King Charles I grew a variety of scented geraniums in the royal greenhouse. The Victorians thought they were geraniums rather than an herbal plant but if you look at their asymmetrical leaves you can see the difference between scented geraniums and regular geraniums.
The scented geranium is truly a herbal plant for all seasons. It grows and has a lovely aroma throughout the spring and summer and when the chilly winds of autumn threaten this sturdy herbal plant will gladly co-exist inside with you. Nothing could be better when container gardening includes scented geranium with their exquisite flowers, lovely scented leaves, and sturdy characteristics for year round enjoyment of your senses.
True to their name scented geraniums come in a multitude of fragrances. Seemly, the favorite is the rose scented geranium but others are gaining popularity quickly. Some of the more robustly planted are the apple scented, peppermint scented, wood, like cedar or balsam, nutmeg and citronella (also know as the mosquito buster.) You can plant a whole container garden with this one type of plant and have a beautiful diversity. Their leaves alone will contrast interestingly to give you a spectacular container garden. The tiny smooth leaves of the nutmeg scented geranium, or Lady Mary, to the large musk scented leaves of the Lady Plymouth.
The rose scented geraniums are gaining popularity for calming and are increasingly used in mediation and for healing purposes. The plant truly releases a delicious rose scent when rubbed against or crushed. Just brush the leaves to release their scent or make a soothing rose geranium tea to help you relax.
There are many culinary uses for the scented geranium to delight your taste buds. Chop up the leaves and mix with your other favorite herbs such as chives or chervil or thyme to make interesting flavored butters
and spreads. A really clever way to use the leaves is to line a baking
pan when making pies, puddings or cakes to impart a wonderful flavor
to your desserts. Use them for desserts, syrups or custards for another
unique flavor. You can even make flavored sugar by layer dry, fresh
leaves with sugar. Let them sit a few days, remove the leaves and store
the sugar in an air tight container. This can be used in teas, baking
goods, or as a sugar scrub. They are delightful in baths and infused
in water to rinse your hair.
The scented geranium is a great
as a room freshener or added to potpourri. Try adding some to your
vacuum bag or put them in a mesh bag and add them to your dryer for
a new fresh scent for your clothes.
Scented geraniums are grown
from cuttings taken from the mother plant. Cut three to four inches
just above a leaf. Strip the lower leaves off and place in a rooting
medium, such as a mix of sphagnum peat moss. Place your cutting in
bright light and keep it moist. When roots have been established it
is time to place it in your container garden. Make sure the soil is
porous and fast draining.
When the scented geranium is indoors
it is necessary to feed it once a week to ensure full leaf growth.
Pinching back the plant not only encourages bushy growth but releases
a delicious aroma into the air. Keep the soil evenly damp; do not over
water them as this will kill them. They can come back from overly dry
situations but not wet ones.
Now it is time to add this multi-talented
plant to your container garden. Just one word of caution, once you
get to know the scented geranium your herbal garden will never be without
Copyright © Mary Hanna, All Rights Reserved.
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