It is Tuesday so it must be smelly Geranium day. Well there not really Geraniums at all, rather Pelargoniums. Pelargonium Graveolens to be precise. And boy do they smell. We have built up a little selection of mother plans, some in pots some in the ground, Rose, Citron, Eucalyptus and Mint.
They can be reproduced by taking tip cuttings of the new growth, pop them into a good rooting soil, like Orgasyl, keep moist and wait for signs of the roots popping out the bottom of the pot.
Potted on they grow perfectly well inside and out. Here in the South of France I can get away with planting them in the ground, but they are susceptible to frost. They are originally from Southern Africa after all, and I cannot remember many frosts in Botswana.
Some sun is a good idea, it helps concentrate the essential oil, and thus increases their perfume. I find they are not particularly thirsty, in summer in the ground a good soaking once a week seems to work, in a pot, because they have a limited root ball, they will need a bit more.
At a certain point in Autumn they start fading, this is the moment to cut them right back and cover with a mulch of some description. By cutting them back hard you ensure that they don’t get leggy and woody. A dense bush with hundreds of flowers is much better than a leggy tree with a hand full of leaves. If you are growing them in a pot and have a risk of frost it is not a bad idea to bring them inside.
Some people reckon that Pelargonium Graveolens, particularly the lemon variety, is good for keeping away mosquitoes. I am not so convinced, a smell which is reminiscent of citronella may may you think you are safe but I have them all arund our terrace and we are still bitten every dusk as we have our appero.
For more information on care for Pelargonium Graveolens have a look at this site, http://geraniumodorant.com/ They seem to know their business.