Scented Geranium Varieties To Add To Your Garden

(Image credit: Johanna Svennberg)

Scented geraniums are related to the typical annuals you see sold every summer in garden centers. They belong to the genus Pelargonium and include about 200 varieties. English and Dutch colonists first brought them to Europe from South Africa. 

About Scented Geranium Plants

Many people consider the various scented geranium types to be herbs. They produce flowers, but the real reason to grow them is for attractive and scented foliage. The aroma comes from oil produced at the roots of leaf hairs. Each variety has a unique smell, including aromas reminiscent of lemon, rose, mint, and even coconut. 

Scented Geranium Varieties

The options for aromas are nearly endless with these species of scented geranium: 

  • P. odoratissimum. This trailing type of geranium has a delicate apple aroma. The leaves are heart-shaped and ruffled along the edges. The small flowers are white. 
  • P. nervosum. This lime-scented species has light, lime-green flowers that are ruffled and round. The flowers are light purple. 
  • P. tomentosum. This minty species has several cultivars. Godfreys Pride is large and trailing with a strong scent. Joy Lucille has pink and red flowers. 
  • P. graveolens. With a rose aroma, this species has large, dark green leaves and pink flowers. Robers Lemon Rose smells like a combination of roses and lemons. Other cultivars combine rose with spices for a really unique aroma. 
  • P. grossularioides. Bring a scent of the tropics to your patio or indoors with this geranium that smells like coconut. This is a low-growing type that better tolerates the cold than some geraniums. The flowers are small and deep pink. 
  • P. crispum. This is a classic lemon-scented geranium. The leaves are small and wrinkled and the flowers purple to pink. You can find many cultivars with a lemon aroma, including Citriodorum, Lemon, and Mabel Grey.
  • P. fragrans. This spicy geranium smells a lot like warming nutmeg with a hint of pine. It is a small plant with gray-green leaves. 
  • P. quercifolium. Oak-leaf geranium has deeply lobed dark green leaves reminiscent of oak leaves. The scent, however, is of almonds and incense. 

Scented geraniums are easy to grow. Give them a sunny spot with good drainage and regular fertilizer during the growing season. They grow well in containers but do need pinching and pruning to keep their shape. You can easily grow new plants from tip cuttings that root readily.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.