How one shriveled scented geranium sparked an entire collection/obsession

ARE YOU A plant collector? I wouldn’t have recognized as such, however typically it takes shedding a plant to find how scent-imental (sorry) we’re about it. For greater than 10 years, an huge, scented geranium has been rising in a 4-by-2-foot inventory tank on our again stoop. The plant’s succulent stems had been furnished with coarse, darkish inexperienced leaves marked within the center with a burgundy stain — I feel the variability was ‘Chocolate Mint’ (Pelargonium quercifolium). The plant grew to shrublike proportions and, for extra months of the 12 months than not, was adorned with barely bilious Pepto-pink flowers. My success with this supposedly tender plant was possible because of its location. The quantity of soil within the container coupled with a sheltered place beneath the eaves of the home noticed my pet plant by way of quite a few winter storms. Until it didn’t. 

Get Growing

Scented geranium tradition is straightforward. Provide an common, well-drained however not overly wealthy potting combine. Your scented geraniums will flower higher in full solar, however on condition that the scented leaves are the primary attraction, rising the vegetation partly shade makes it simpler to maintain up with watering. 

Routinely pinch vegetation to encourage branching. Pop tip cuttings right into a small vase for a aromatic nosegay. Because of their scent and infrequently furry foliage, scented geraniums are usually pest-free. However, in deference to the following Arctic blast, you would possibly need to domesticate your assortment in containers you could whisk indoors when temperatures fall under 25 levels F. 

This 12 months, I poked and prodded the not-very-promising vegetal skeleton by way of early June earlier than I lastly admitted my pretty was no extra. Only then did I acknowledge that I didn’t simply need to exchange this low-maintenance aromatic plant; I needed extra — heaps extra. 
Looking across the backyard, I ought to have seen this nascent plant assortment rising. For years, I’ve cultivated (and sheltered) a unusual Pelargonium (P. ‘Colocho’) that has a contorted, nearly bonsailike development behavior. Geraniaceae (, a specialty nursery in California specializing in … anticipate it … all issues geranium, describes the plant as a “genetically challenged” type of P. graveolens, with congested curled inexperienced leaves that odor like roses. In a terra-cotta pot, ‘Prince Rupert’ (P. crispum ‘Prince Rupert Variegated’) sports activities tiny pleated inexperienced leaves with creamy margins and pale lavender flowers. The entire plant has a powerful lemon scent and, if stored pinched, a pleasingly tidy behavior. Another common citrusy favourite, ‘Mabel Grey’ (P. citronellum), is bigger and extra strongly scented (and stated to discourage mosquitoes), with coarsely lobed, barely bushy foliage and darker pink blooms with deep maroon markings. I don’t have that one — but. Another offbeat kind in my assortment, ‘Balsam’, has finely dissected, sticky leaves and, if not stored clipped, a slender (learn: gangly) development behavior. It’s doable that my awkward plant is P. denticulatum ‘Filicifolium’, a foliar doppelgänger to ‘Balsam’. Taken collectively, the weird nature of my varied scented geraniums ought to have tipped me off to this rising obsession. Looking so as to add some dignity to my newly acknowledged scented geranium assortment, on a current nursery go to, I bought ‘Atomic Snowflake’ (P. capitatum), an elegant plant with softly lobed gentle inexperienced leaves marbled with cream. The plant has a genteel true rose perfume and bears umbels of small pink blooms. Grown by Log House Plants, a specialty grower with native distribution, it sports activities a nursery tag that describes a development behavior as extensive as it’s tall, and barely trailing. You understand how it’s with a summer time crush — now I can’t cease fascinated about and on the lookout for new scented geraniums to convey into my fold. There’s ‘Old Spice’ (P. fragrans) with felted, ruffled leaves, white flowers and a wealthy spicy nutmeg perfume, and billowing ‘Peppermint’ (P. tomentosum), with sprays of tiny white flowers held above furry gentle inexperienced leaves. As for changing my beloved ‘Chocolate Mint’? Too quickly. 

Lorene Edwards Forkner
is the creator of the newly launched “Color In and Out of the Garden,” Abrams Books, 2022. Follow alongside at

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About the Author: Jessica