Edible Landscaping – Scented Geraniums

Geranium Flower EssenceI got to plant some of my scented geraniums this weekend. Whoot! I love scented geraniums. They are so deliciously fragrant! You just brush against them and breathe in the wonderful scent. Crush a leaf or two and your hands will smell divine!

There are so many different species and hence scents. There are apple scented, nutmeg scented, lemon scented, etc. My favorite – mostly because it makes a divine syrup – is Attar of Roses. It has rose scented leaves and pink flowers. Rober’s Lemon Rose is also wonderful.

Scented geraniums are pretty easy to grow – you can grow them indoors or outdoors. I had several that did exceptionally well in containers in my rooftop garden. Now, I’ve moved them to in ground and they seem to be doing well. Because it gets so hot where I am, I do keep them shaded from the afternoon sun.

You may be familiar with scented geraniums and not even know it. Many species are important in the perfume industry. In fact, scented geranium oil is often used to supplement (or adulterate) expensive rose oils.

The best thing about scented geraniums is that the leaves and flowers are edible. They can be used to flavor jellies, cakes, butters, ice creams, iced tea, sugar and more. I prefer the rose scented for culinary uses, but the lime and some of the others are nice too.

Scented geraniums aren’t really geraniums – they belong to Genus pelargonium (although they are still members of the family Geraniaceae). So don’t think that you can use the geraniums that may be in your yard already – you need to make sure you are using scented geraniums.

Certain of the scented geraniums have also been used for various medicinal purposes. Scented geraniums have been used for intestinal problems, wounds, respiratory ailments, fevers, kidney complaints and respiratory/cold remedies. The essential oil is used to balance the hormonal system.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, Sunflower Farms in Gardena, California has a fantastic selection of scented geraniums. I have also found Attar of Roses at Armstrong this year, but that was the only type. There are several mail order sources. Or, if you have a friend, you can take cuttings. Make sure you take at least 6 to 7 nodes or lobes in your cutting, and root in soil-less media. Most recommend to treat the cuttings with rooting hormone.

What to do with scented geraniums? Making rose scented syrup is my fave – and it is delicious added to lemonade or an afternoon cocktail (hmmmm).

Rose Syrup:

2 and 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup or so of rose-scented geranium leaves

Place water and sugar in deep saucepan and place on stove over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let reach boil and boil gently 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat, add rose geranium leaves, cover and let steep at least 10 minutes. I usually let it steep 20 or so. Strain into clean pan and boil 30 more seconds. Add to sterilized jars. If you want, you can add red food coloring after the last boil but before adding to the sterilized jars but I don’t.