If you have the gumption to grow just one green thing this spring, make it a geranium.
Don’t let the giggles (or guffaws) from go-getting gardeners get you down. While we’re out groaning over our big, gorgeous garden plots, you can sit back and sip lemonade as you bask in the beauty of your oh-so-easy-to-grow geranium.
And, girl, just wait until you smell it …
In a word: G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S! (If a little strong.)
Nutmeg, lemon, apple, almond, coconut, mint, or rose—what fragrance tickles your fancy?
Since there are over 100 varieties of geranium in the genus Pelargonium, many of which mimic our favorite fragrances, you are guaranteed to find one that makes your sniffer swoon—and, yes, they’re as pretty as they are perfumed. All this, and geraniums are also a snap to grow—literally.
Snap off a geranium cutting, and it will happily take root. Therefore, they are easy to come by (and free) if you know someone who grows them. Of course, if you sneak a snip from one of your town’s sidewalk flower gardens, we won’t tell.
- Nip a leafy 8-inch cutting from an established geranium plant.
- Clip off three sets of leaves from the bottom of the cutting.
- Dip the bottom of the cutting in honey to promote root growth.
- Fill a small pot with a ratio of 2/3 potting soil to 1/3 sand for adequate drainage.
- Use your finger to make a hole in the soil mixture about 3 inches deep. Gently insert the bottom of your cutting into the hole and pack firmly.
- Place your pot in a warm, sunny spot and keep the soil moist for 10 to 12 days. After the cutting takes root, water when the soil feels dry (these gals don’t like to have their “feet” wet all the time).
- A smidgen of slow-release organic fertilizer like Dr. Earth Organic 6 Flower Garden Fertilizer will give your baby a boost, encouraging a fine frill of fragrant leaves and flowers.
From Petticoats to Pastries
Once you’ve gone ga-ga over geraniums (and I know you will), you’ll start sniffing out wondrous ways to sweeten your whole world with their charms. Such passionate perfumed pursuits hail from as far back as the Victorian era when women of the New World went wild for the exotic South American geranium in all of its aromatic incarnations.
Lush gardens garnished with geraniums were frequented by ladies in long crinoline skirts that would brush past the flowers, stirring sensory pleasures with every step.
Sumptuously scented geraniums were also gathered for flavored sugars. To make your own, add a few of your sweetest-smelling geranium leaves to a container of sugar, seal it up, and let rest for two weeks. Then, sieve out the leaves and use the sugar to flavor desserts, teas, lemonades, and other decadent delights.