Saturday, April 2, 2011

Scented Geraniums for Your Flower Shop

Scented geraniums can be a wonderful addition to your shop inventory. They are fragrant, unusual, and a good conversation starter with which you can talk to your customers. If you have something different in your store, it will cause a word of mouth reaction and bring in new and repeat patrons.

It is interesting to know that most geraniums came from the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. Geraniums remained unknown until the English were given savvy to them by Africa in about the 1600’s. They did not come into vogue until the 1800’s when the French took interest in the scented geraniums as possibilities for their perfumes. French perfumeries saw the value of scented geraniums for their aromatic potential; especially the rose-scented geranium. This plant was distilled for the delightful light rose scent. A charming note is the Victorians, whether the potted plants were placed indoors or out, were positioned so that when the ladies walked by with their long dresses, and as they walked passed the scented geraniums, they would brush against the geraniums and thus release the tantalizing fragrance into the air.

Scented geraniums are easy to grow in indoors in pots in the winter. They also grow splendidly in the outdoor garden during the summer months. They will freeze if left out doors during the winter. It is a great joy to have geraniums of all kinds on the windowsill during the dark, chilly winter months. They will bloom abundantly all winter. The scented geraniums do like a light fertilizing from time to time. You will see a difference in the color of the leaves and in the abundance of blooms. Just be careful and do not over do with fertilizer. Keep the fertilizer a diluted mixture. The leaves of the plants offer fragrant material for potpourri. Nosegays, which were once popular during the Victorian era, are making a comeback today. Geranium leaves are a nice addition to nosegays.

Geraniums propagate quite easily. Take cuttings of about 6’ from healthy plants. Place the cuttings in very moist sand. They root nicely in sand. You can root in water as well, but moist sand is the preferred method. You might put a plastic bag over the cuttings to add extra moisture, emulating a greenhouse effect. Once the cuttings have substantial roots, plant the cutting in their own pot. Clay pots are trendy, as well as classic for geraniums. Fertilize, once again very lightly, and place in a bright sunny place, but not too hot.

When shopping for scented geranium plants rub the leaves lightly between your fingers to release and test the aroma of the plant. Make sure the plants are a healthy dark green and the plants are not leggy and spindly. Scented geraniums are used for aromatherapy, cosmetic uses, culinary uses, and medicinal purposes, especially with the skin. 

Diseases and pests do sometimes plague scented geraniums. To control, lightly wash with warm, mild detergent solution to wash off common pests such as white flies, spider mites, and mealy bugs. Inspect plants often to catch problems early on so the pests can be quickly fixed before infestation becomes too badly. If plants become too infested I usually just toss them as to not jeopardize my whole collection.

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