Scented geraniums, a cousin of “common” geraniums, are less showy visually but are a great addition to your garden for their heavenly fragrance and uses. They are categorized as an herb, but they do produce flowers. The flowers are more delicate than the flowers of an annual geranium. But no worries–these beauties aren’t grown for their flowers, but for their amazing scents.
Scented geraniums get their various fragrances from the oil in their leaves. They can mimic all kinds of scents including rose, peppermint, almond (“Pretty Polly”), lemon (“Citrosa”), and even chocolate. Place them in full sun to part shade, providing afternoon shade when daytime temperatures go over 90F. Scented geraniums are especially appreciated in containers on patios and porches where you can enjoy their lovely fragrance all summer!
Scented geraniums are an annual here in North Carolina, but you can enjoy them long into the fall and winter by drying them! For the most intense flavor and scent, pick leaves off the scented geranium plant shortly after it blooms. To dry the leaves, spread them flat in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 200F degrees for 5-8 minutes. Store the dry leaves in an airtight container (not in the refrigerator).
Use dried leaves in a number of ways, including flavoring sugars and enhancing potpourri and sachets. Or add dried leaves to bath water for a luxuriously fragrant experience!
The Rose of Attar and Pretty Polly (almond) varieties also adds a delicate flavor to sugar. To flavor sugar, stack clean, dry geranium leaves in a large canister between one-inch layers of sugar. Place the canister in a warm, dry spot for two to four weeks. Sift out the leaves before using. Use the flavored sugar in baked goods or to sweet tea. The flavored sugar can be substituted for all or part of the plain sugar called for in recipes. You can also use the fragrant sugar in cocktails!
This week’s post is brought to you thanks to Emily, one of our delightful Garden Center Associates.