Last month at Garden club we were privileged to have Wendy Skelton from Just Geraniums as our speaker.
Wendy was kind enough to supply us with her notes from her talk, I know we all learnt a lot more about how to grow these plants successfully
We also have the recipe for the delicious Geranium Shortbread that Wendy brought for us to share at Morning Tea
Scented Geranium talk by Wendy Skelton
Many people ask about the difference between a Pelargonium and Geranium, the confusion arose long ago when they were split from one big family of Geraniums, into Geraniums and Pelargoniums; they used the symmetry of the flowers and the shape of seed pods to determine which were Geraniums and which were Pelargoniums. This ended up confusing everyone when the plants weren’t flowering, and most people started calling them all Geraniums regardless of which category they fell into.
Simply Geraniums have symmetrical flowers and Pelargoniums have irregularly shaped and flowers sometimes with markings.
Growing Geraniums and Pelargoniums
Most types of Geranium and Pelargonium plants are easy to grow, they like to be well drained, have at least ½ day of sun and be watered only when they get very dry.
Their biggest dislikes are not getting enough sun and being in a pot sitting in a saucer of water.
Geranium and Pelargonium Pest and Diseases
They get rust and black leg rot and are occasionally plagued by caterpillars and possums
Rust is a fungal disease- Spread by wind and water. Bin or burn infected leaves.
Cultural method – prune plant down to 1/3 and remove all leaves, water well and fertilise with organic liquid fertiliser, new growth will be rust free
Remove foliage with spots and clean any dead leaf debris from under the plant. Spray with Zayleton on the top and bottom of the leaves and repeat in 2 weeks.
Black Leg Rot is a bacterial disease spread in soil and water – it usually affects plants in pots that have become overwatered, the plant stem blackens and softens mid- way down, and the plants nutrient and water distribution system are disrupted causing the plant to gradually die.
By the time the disease becomes noticeable it is too late to spray, take some healthy cuttings from the top of the plant and destroy diseased lower part of the plant, and the soil, preventative measures of hygiene and less watering will prevent reoccurrence.
Scented Leaved Geraniums uses and growing habits
Spice- Add to Milk puddings, custards and rice, Potpourri, Flavour cakes and
biscuits, use as foliage in a Tussie-mussie, Suitable for hanging basket, Fast
Apple- Add to Milk puddings, custards and rice, Potpourri, flavour cakes and
biscuits, summer drinks and punches, add to Fruit salads, Small bush, Suitable
for hanging basket
Nutmeg -Add to Milk puddings, custards and rice. Potpourri, Flavour cakes and
biscuits, Small bush, Suitable for hanging basket
Tutti fruitii- Potpourri, Summer drinks and punches. Fruit salads, Small bush,
Suitable for hanging basket
Lemon Crispum- Potpourri, Flavour cakes and biscuits, Bath bags and foot spa’s,
Summer drinks and punches. Fruit salads, Herb butters, use foliage in a Tussie
Mellissa Lemon – Add to Milk puddings, custards and rice. Potpourri, Flavour
cakes and biscuits, Bath bags and foot spa’s, Summer drinks and punches, Jams
and Jelly, Fruit salads, Herb butters, Tussie mussies
Orange – Potpourri, Bath bags and foot spa’s, Summer drinks and punches Fruit
Lime – Bath bags and foot spa’s, Summer drinks and punches. Fruit salads,
African Spice- Add to Milk puddings, custards and rice, Flavour cakes and
biscuits, Tussie mussies, no good for pot pourri, Suitable for hanging basket
Carrot – Pink Pet and scarlet Pet – Flavour cakes and biscuits, Tussie mussies,
Peppermint – Flavour cakes and biscuits, Bath bags and foot spa’s, Summer
drinks and punches. Fruit salads, Suitable for hanging basket, Ground cover likes
Rose- Potpourri, Bath bags and foot spa’s, Jams and Jelly, Tussie mussies
Citronella – Repels insects, Tussie mussies, fast growing to 1m
Variegated Mint /Rose – Potpourri, Flavour cakes and biscuits, Bath bags and
foot spa’s, Summer drinks and punches. Interesting foliage for Tussie mussies,
Suitable for hanging basket
Mabel Grey – Potpourri, Bath bags and foot spa’s, Tussie mussies
Candy Dancer – Potpourri, Bath bags and foot spa’s, Tussie mussies
Pine/ Royal Oak – Tussie mussies, no good for pot pourri
Roburs Lemon Rose – Potpourri, Bath bags and foot spa’s, Jams and Jelly, Tussie
Ginger – Flavour cakes and biscuits, Summer drinks and punches. Fruit salads,
Old spice/Lavender- Potpourri, Bath bags and foot spa’s, Tussie mussies,
Suitable for hanging basket
Rose Geranium Jelly
1 large cup of lightly packed rose scented leaves
6 cups of sugar
Juice of 1 whole lemon
4 cups of water
½ packet of Jam setter powder
Red food colouring
Wash leaves, Steep with sugar, and lemon juice for about 90 minutes. Place in
saucepan with water and bring to the boil; strain, add jam setter and heat until
pectin dissolves. Boil for 15 minutes, stirring all the time. Fill jar until full, seal
jars in usual manner. This jelly can be used as an accompaniment to lamb or can
be used as a spread for cakes or on bread and butter
3 cups of mixed geranium leaves with scents that blend well together – spice,
old spice, apple, nutmeg, orange, ginger, carrot
5 star anise
½ teaspoon cloves
2 – 3 cinnamon sticks
Selection of silk or fresh flowers in autumn tones
1 tablespoon of orris root powder
½ teaspoon all spice.
Start with the geranium leaves and sparingly adding the other ingredients. Sniff
and adjust according to requirements
3 cups of mixed geranium leaves that blend well together – mabel grey, orange, lemon, peppermint, mint rose, robur’s lemon rose, apple, tutti fruity, lime, rose, citronella, old spice/ lavender.
Mixture of scented petals – rose, citrus tree flowers, mock orange, lavender flowers,
Lemon or orange peel
Add bright coloured flower petals for colour or silk some flowers
Lemon /Rose Sachets
Dry equal quantities of lemon and rose scented leaves, crumble and mix with an equal amount of dried lavender flowers and a little orris root and mix, fill a pretty silk bag and tie with a ribbon, use in your draws or guest room for a lovely fragrance.
Tussie Mussies originated in the English court where judges carried posies of herb and scented plants to ward off unpleasant smells and protect against infection, over time tussies mussies took on a romantic turn with a special message to the recipient by the types of foliage and flowers used
Scented geranium meanings
Oak leaved – true friendship
Rose scented – preference
Nutmeg scented – expected meeting
Lemon scented – unexpected meeting
Wendy has a nursery with over 400 plants for sale at
39 Berlin Road Mount Berryman and can be contacted on 0411 662782
Relax. The geraniums will do just fine.
(Joan Lee Faust, New York Times, 11 May 1997)
Wendy has kindly shared this recipe for the delicious Geranium Shortbreads that she brought for the morning Tea.