วันเสาร์ที่ 13 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2551

Indoor Geraniums-Part 2: Lemon Scented Pelargoniums

Scented Pelargoniums (usually misnamed as scented geraniums) are not grown for their flowers. They are used for their scented leaves. My favorite group is the lemon/citrus scented pelargoniums. Lemon has always been a favorite of mine--both as a taste and as a scent. I love rubbing the leaves of a lemon scented pelargonium to release the fragrance.

The scent comes from tiny oil glands in the leaves and is released when you brush or rub the leaves. Even a good breeze can bring the scent to your nose Pruning these plants is a delight--you can enjoy their scents and your hands smell like the plants you've pruned.
The growth habit of these plants varies widely. Some are very large, needing a large pot or room in the garden while others are content in a 4" pot for the growing season. Still others are floppy and make good hanging basket plants. There is every variation in between these extremes. I suggest looking at the place you want to grow the plant and then picking out the variety that best meets your needs. If you are growing these in a south-facing window, you'll probably prefer smaller plants than if you grow them under lights.

I divide scented Pelargoniums into several general categories. This week, I'll concentrate on the lemon-citrus group because they are my favorites! (I collect every lemon-scented herb I can but more about that in another article.) My favorite lemon scented Pelargonium is called Mabel Grey (Pelargonium citronellum). This plant has fairly large leaves which have a very strong lemon scent. The leaves remind me of silver maple leaves because they have a similar shape. However, the leaves are slightly hairy like most geranium leaves. When it blooms the flowers are pinkish-lavender.

A close second is Pelargonium crispum which is an upright growing plant with tiny, roundish leaves with wavy edges. It has an excellent lemon scent and was called the "fingerbowl lemon" in Victorian days because its leaves were floated in finger bowls. I've seen it grown into outstanding standards (tall stem with many branches at top to form a ball shape). Unfortuantely, I've never had the pleasure of seeing it in flower but I've heard they are pinkish-lavender similar to Mabel Grey. A newer lemon scented cultivar is 'Galway Star', a cultivar of P. citronellum--you're more likely to find this one at specialty nurseries than your typical neighborhood garden store.
You may also find 'Lemon Balm', 'Lime', 'Orange', and 'Prince Rupert' which are all hybrids. Let your nose determine which your favorite is.


Unless you're a purist about scented Pelargoniums having the correct name, don't worry too much about the name on the label. With so many plants looking so similar, it takes a professional to sort it all out. Most nurseries have at least some of their plants mislabeled. If you want to be sure the label is right, buy from Deerwood Geraniums (Rt. 4, Box 525A, Buckhannon, WV 26201, 304-472-4203 Catalog cost: $3.00). Faye Brawner, a member of IGS, has made it her mission to try to unscramble the mix ups so common in the industry today. Unfortunately, many nursery owners simply don't care if the plant is labeled correctly as long as the plant sells!


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