Scented Geraniums

The leaves of these plants can add a fragrant aroma to your garden.



pelargonium graveolens (rose scented geranium)

Photo by: Jerry Pavia

Jerry Pavia

pelargonium graveolens (rose scented geranium)

Scented-leaf geraniums (Pelargonium domesticum) are actually not geraniums at all but rather members of the pelargonium genus — much like zonal or garden geraniums and ivy geraniums. They are prized for their abundantly fragrant foliage. In fact, in comparison to garden or ivy geraniums they produce relatively few small blooms. You’ll find round, lacy, and serrated shapes when looking at their foliage, along with a wide range of scents from citronella to chocolate. Read on for the must-know info to grow these aromatic geraniums in your own garden.  

When and Where to Plant

Scented geraniums favor growing locations and conditions similar to that of common garden geraniums. Perhaps due to their native South African environment, they thrive in containers or flowerbeds where they can receive six to eight hours of sunlight per day. This can be in a full sun or partial shade environment. 

Care and Maintenance

When it comes to watering, allow the top-most portion of the soil to dry out before giving your plants another drink. Overwatering them can lead to root rot. If you choose to fertilize, select a water-soluble option and use it once per month.  


Prepare for your senses to be delighted when choosing a scented geranium. Here are just a few of the nearly 100 varieties available. For rose scents, look for ‘Attar of Rose.’ It is, perhaps, the most well-known of the rose-scented geraniums and produces tiny pink blooms. For lemon scents, look to ‘Mabel Grey’ or ‘Lemon Balm.’

In the fruits you’ll find a range of varieties with scents that include apple, orange, apricot and strawberry, while you may see nutmeg and ginger scents in the spiced varieties. ‘Mint’ and ‘Chocolate Mint’ are also popular choices. Finally, if you prefer a woodsy aroma, look for ‘Staghorn Oak,’ ‘Pine-scented’ and ‘Southernwood.’ 


Beyond their attractive leaves and flowering blooms in the summer, scented geraniums can serve a variety of purposes, making them all the more enjoyable. For example, the mint and chocolate versions may be used in culinary creations where they are used to infuse flavor. Additionally, plants that are marketed as citronella scented-leaf geraniums have a lemon scent, and when the oil of its leaves is rubbed on the skin it can reduce the attractiveness of your flesh to mosquitoes.

Scented geranium leaves can also be dried and crumbled for use. For example, you might add a few leaf pieces to a cake recipe or steep them in a glass of hot tea. The sweeter fragrances, such as rose, can be added to a bath or used in a sachet.

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The Different Types of Geraniums

There’s more than one type of geranium. Find out just what you have — or would care to have — growing in your garden with this quick guide.

What Is a Geranium?

As one of the iconic blooms of summer, geraniums are often seen in home and commercial gardens throughout the United States. Learn more about them here.

Geranium Flowers

Learn more about the blooms of this classic plant and how you can get the most from them throughout the growing season.

Zonal Geraniums

Learn more about this incredibly popular plant, which is a common choice for home gardeners throughout the United States.

How and When to Plant Geraniums

Learn how to grow and care for these flowering beauties in your own container garden or backyard.

Wild Geraniums

Found in meadows and woodlands, these lavender-colored blooms can be equally beautifully in your home garden.

Cranesbill Geraniums

Adaptable and easy to grow, these true geraniums produce an abundance of colorful blooms.

Hardy Geraniums

Also commonly known as true or cranesbill geraniums, these perennial plants are low maintenance and provide continuous color during the summer months.

Perennial Geraniums

These true, wild geraniums bloom throughout the summer and—as the name suggests—will return to your garden after lying dormant in the winter.


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