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The Benefits and Uses of Geranium Pelargonium in Your Garden and Home

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Fiona is a qualified herbalist and aromatherapist. She has twenty years of experience in the field and wants to share that knowledge.

This article will look into the benefits and uses of rose-scented geranium.

This article will look into the benefits and uses of rose-scented geranium.

Why I Plant Rose-Scented Geranium in my Garden

There are many other scented geraniums out there, but not all of these are edible. I only use the rose-scented variety myself. If you choose another type, please make sure that it is edible before ingesting it.

This is one plant that I always make sure that I plant. It is a strongly scented herb that is an excellent addition to a sensory garden and is very pretty. The leaves are succulent and crush effortlessly, making it a fun experience for little ones exploring their world. Also, as it's non-toxic, your children can bite the leaves with no ill effects.

It's hardy and effortless to grow. It does, however, tend to take over a bit, so be ruthless when cutting it back. It grows into a large bush with many baby plants around it.

We usually take cuttings or uproot some of the small plants and place them in a pretty pot as a gift.

It is worth looking for the correct variety—once you have it in your garden, you will never need to be without it again and, once you start using it, you'll wonder how you managed without it. In addition, the plant self-seeds and the little seedlings make great gifts.

Alternatively, take a cutting of the stem, leave it in water until it roots, and then plant it out. Do be patient here because it could take a little while.

These flowers come in various tones of pink.

These flowers come in various tones of pink.

Safety Notes

Rose-scented Geranium is generally a safe herb to use. That said, however, you should use it responsibly. As with any herbal remedy, it's wise to use the tea for two to three weeks at most at a time and then take a week's break.

If you want to use it on your skin, crush a leaf, apply to a small patch of skin, and leave it on for 24 hours. Allergic reactions to the compounds within the plant are rare, but it pays to be cautious.

When you use the essential oil, always dilute it before applying it to your skin. You should never take the essential oil internally. Also, keep the oils away from little fingers. Store them somewhere that your kids cannot reach as the undiluted oil can burn the skin.

How You Can Use This Herb

Rose-scented geranium is simple to use. It can be used fresh, in a tea, or a cream or oil base. Alternatively, you can use its essential oil. However, the herb does not dry very well, so it is best to use the fresh herb. In each of the following sections, I will give you ideas on the best method to use it, but here is a rundown of the basics.

Fresh From the Garden

You can use the leaves and flowers. First, bruise the leaves to get more of the oils out. Bruising the leaves is simply crushing them a bit. Alternatively, you can chop them up. Apply as necessary and discard when done.

If I have an insect bite or a scratch, I bruise the leaves and place them on the affected area.

Making a Tea

To make a cup of tea, pick about half a cup of leaves and flowers and fill the rest of the cup with boiling water. Leave to steep for about 5-10 minutes, strain, and sip slowly. Add a teaspoon of honey if you don't find it sweet enough already.

Read More From Dengarden

Making a Cream

Making your cream is pretty simple—all you need to do is bruise a cup of the leaves and flowers, put them in a pot with a cup of aqueous cream, bring to the boil, and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

Alternatively, you can add a few drops of the essential oil to the aqueous base and stir until thoroughly combined.

Using the Essential Oil

When it comes to essential oils, this is one of the most useful, especially when it comes to skincare. It blends particularly well with equal parts of Palmarosa oil and Sandalwood oil in an aqueous cream to combat eczema.

You must, however, always dilute the oils properly—at a maximum concentration of 2%—by mixing them into a carrier oil or cream base. Beneficial carrier oils include sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, and extra virgin olive oil.

Be careful to use only rose-scented geraniums—not all geraniums are edible. This is an example of one that is not edible at all—very similar in looks, but quite toxic.

Be careful to use only rose-scented geraniums—not all geraniums are edible. This is an example of one that is not edible at all—very similar in looks, but quite toxic.

The Health Benefits of Rose-Scented Geranium

Rose-scented geranium is best known for its relaxing properties. A tea made with the herb will help relax the nervous system and soothe the digestive system.

It is excellent for treating headaches, stiff and sore muscles, spasms, and cramps and relieving feelings of helplessness.

Using the Fresh Herb

Believe it or not, this herb is excellent for the gardener—if you get bitten by a bug in the garden or scratch yourself, scrunch up a couple of leaves and apply to the area. This will remove the itchiness and help the skin to heal. It'll also help to soothe minor burns.

Rose-Scented Geranium Tea

Make your tea by putting a leaf or two into boiling water and leaving it to seep. Then, drink one or two cups of tea a day to help soothe anxiety.

Making a Skin Cream for Yourself

Get a good quality aqueous cream and add a few drops of essential oil. (About 2-3 drops per 50 ml of oil). Mix in 2 drops of Palmarosa and two drops of Sandalwood essential oils. Mix well and keep in a sealed container. This makes a very nourishing cream that is especially good for dry, sensitive skin. It is also helpful in treating eczema and other rashes.

Rose-Scented Geranium Essential Oil

This is also a beneficial essential oil to keep around the house. It helps treat stress, depression, skin problems, PMS, and insomnia. In addition, this is one of the best oils when it comes to treating skin conditions, rashes, and sunburns. I always add the essential oil to any skin creams I make—it is very nourishing and mixes quite easily with many different oils.

In Aromatherapy

If you don't have a plant in your garden, you can always use the essential oil. As with any other oil, be sure to dilute it in some form of carrier oil or aqueous base (as above). I make my own "sniffer" very quickly from an old medicine bottle—or any bottle that can seal tightly. Rinse very well and leave to dry. Stuff a cotton ball, tissue, or some toilet paper into the bottle and add a few drops of essential oil. Open and sniff when you need a boost—the scent will last for ages. I keep one of these in my car to help me out when I'm exhausted. Replace the tissue every couple of months.

Alternatively, use a burner. Use in moderation as it has a powerful scent. It is often used to replace Rose essential oil but smells a lot more herbaceous.

Cosmetic Uses

Take a few sprigs and bunch them into a face cloth. Use in the bath as a scrub to help relax muscles and revitalize skin.

You can also make a great bath of vinegar by immersing a half cup of the chopped herb into 500 ml of good quality vinegar. Leave in the sun for a week, strain, and repeat.

Used in a cream base, the oils are very moisturizing and excellent for dry skin. Smooth overtired feet and legs for an instant boost.

Make Your Own Soothing Body Lotion

If you want to, you can make an excellent skin cream from scratch—use a good quality aqueous cream. Add a quarter cup of chopped leaves and flowers for every cup of aqueous cream. Simmer for about 20 minutes over moderate heat. Strain and place into a clean jar. Keep in a sealed container out of direct sunlight.

How to Use the Body Lotion

In summer, I keep a jar of this cream in the fridge—it is perfect for soothing tired, hot, sun-burnt skin. I lather it on after a shower, and it helps perk me up. For bad sunburn (easy in the South African sun), I add in a couple of tablespoons of Aloe Vera gel as well—it just gives the cream that extra bit of oomph.

Rose-Scented Geraniums are gorgeous in the garden and vase. Hardy and long-lasting in the vase and garden, and they smell good too!

Rose-Scented Geraniums are gorgeous in the garden and vase. Hardy and long-lasting in the vase and garden, and they smell good too!

Culinary Uses

The flowers are beautiful and edible and so are useful in decorating iced goods, etc. Use the fresh flowers to decorate cakes and other edibles. Alternatively, put flowers in ice trays, cover with water and freeze. Use iced tea or juices to make them look pretty.

I tend to use flowers rather than leaves because the leaves have a rather strong taste. If you like the taste of lavender sugar, however, you might want to add some crushed leaves to sugar and let the flavors infuse for at least an hour. Strain the sugar afterward and use it within a day or two.

You can also chop up about a tablespoon of the fresh leaves and add them to your savory dough recipes to impart a nice flavor—this works best with scones, pancakes, or sponge cakes.

Chop up some fresh leaves and add to softened butter to create a delicious and unusual butter.

Use the leaves sparingly in baking-they're better fresh or as an accent rather than the main dish.

Uses of Rose-Scented Geranium in the Home

If you do not have space outside, you can try and grow the rose-scented geranium indoors. You should note, however, that it needs full sun and that it can grow quite big. I prefer to have them out in the garden, but they will do almost as well on a small patio.

Rose-Scented Geranium and Insects

Insects do not love this plant. So in summer, I hang bunches of Rose-Scented Geranium in the kitchen to deter flies. Every time someone goes past the bunch, they crush a leaf, which keeps refreshing the scent.

Rose-Scented Geranium and Your Furniture

Upon reading about this tip, I thought it was a bit of a gag, but I did try it, and it worked well. Take a bunch of leaves and bruise them and then wipe down your wooden furniture with the leaves. It not only helps to nourish the wood, but it also leaves a really lovely scent on it that lasts for days—the smell is delicate and not overpowering in this instance.

Scenting Your Rooms

There are a few ways to scent a room using essential oils, and the good news is that you only need a few drops. This helps to scent the space in both an environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner. For example, you can use an aromatherapy burner or a diffuser; you can use a bowl of water placed on top of a radiator; you can even drop a few drops into the toilet tissue tube inside the toilet tissue tube scent the bathroom.

Growing Rose-Scented Geranium

Growing a rose-scented geranium is pretty straightforward. The plants prefer a milder climate but are frost-resistant and pretty hardy.

They need full sun and nicely composted, light soil.

They should be pruned annually to prevent them from getting scraggly.

They Grow Fast

You do need to be aware that these plants can take over a little - when they get going, they grow quickly. You can quite easily cut them back, though, if this becomes a problem. Alternatively, they will do well in a large pot and make a great show on a sunny porch.

Grow Your Own Geranium from a Slip

Propagation is simple, and the plant will grow quite easily from slips. They are so easy to grow that there is no reason not to have fresh leaves on hand all year round. (In fact, it is best to use the leaves fresh.) You need to take a decent-sized sprig of the plant, put it in a vase of water or straight into the ground, make sure it stays moist, and it will form a strong new plant in no time.

This is one of the reasons that they can take over—leaves that drop off can take root, and the plant sends out lots of babies.

Still, they do make lovely gifts, so grow a few slips, put them into pretty pots, and hand them out to friends.

Harvesting and Preserving Rose-Scented Geranium

Harvesting Your Herbs

When you're ready to harvest some Rose-Scented Geranium, you can simply break off a piece or two or cut it with scissors. Choose unblemished leaves that are still fairly young for the best results.

Where possible, cut the plant before the heat of the day sets in. This ensures that you have the best concentration of natural compounds in the plant.

Preserving Your Harvest

The downside is that this herb doesn't dry well. It's best to use it straight off the plant. You may freeze the flowers in ice cubes to use as a decoration for drinks, but there's no way to restore the restorative properties of the leaves.

Other Uses

  • Make a tea and spray it onto plants to treat aphids on plants.
  • Made into a room freshening spray, it is especially effective in rooms with stale, smoke-filled air.
  • Make a strong tea with equal parts of Geranium and Comfrey and use it as a natural plant booster.
  • Planted near veggie gardens, it helps repel the white cabbage butterfly and acts as a trap crop for some beetles. It also helps to attract butterflies to your garden.
  • Take a few leaves, crush slightly and rub over wooden furniture to help to nourish the wood and to create a delightful delicate scent in the room.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: Where can I buy these seeds, and do they say Rose Geranium, or do they go by a different name in store?

Answer: Hi, the botanical name is Pelargonium graveolens. You might find it under this name. You could also see it listed as Rose-Scented Geranium. It is native to South Africa, and so it might not always be that easy to get your hands on elsewhere, but it is a fantastic plant if you can find it.

Question: I have a scarlet firework geranium, is the flower edible as I would like to use it to decorate a cake?

Answer: I wouldn't use the scarlet firework geranium in any edibles. Borage flowers, nasturtiums, roses, lavender, pansies, and violets also make great options for cake decorating.

© 2013 Fiona

What are your feelings on geraniums? Are there any more you would like to know about?

Fiona (author) from South Africa on June 12, 2016:

Thanks Thelma

Thelma Alberts from Germany on June 12, 2016:

I have no idea that this plant has many uses. Thanks for all the infromations you shared with us.

Fiona (author) from South Africa on June 10, 2016:

Thanks RTelloni and Reynold Jay

Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on June 09, 2016:

Eat'm!?!?!?! I learn new things everyday! Well done Fiona!

RTalloni on June 09, 2016:

Thanks for an interesting post on rose scented geranium. It was surprising to read some of the info and I'm glad to have it in my back pocket!

Fiona (author) from South Africa on October 28, 2015:

Hi Reynold,

Yip - still haven't actually finished it yet - got about halfway and got whacked with writer's block. Have, however, been making quite a good living writing non-fiction ebooks for clients - not quite the same thing but I guess it just shows that I can write when I really want to :)

Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on October 19, 2015:

Hi Fiona! I ran across you on one of my HUBS about 2 years ago and saw you had written a note about writing a novel. I wonder if you ever did? nine great articles here. I hope all is well for you.

Fiona (author) from South Africa on December 16, 2013:

Hi Jeanetter - I wouldn't eat the leaves as is, rather use them in a tea or in butter.

jeanetter on December 16, 2013:

We have always had this in our garden - didn't know it was edible.

Fiona (author) from South Africa on July 07, 2013:

Me too Rajan. Thanks for stopping by.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 07, 2013:

Thanks for sharing the benefits of Rose scented Geranium and for cautioning that this is the only edible variety. I prefer natural remedies to drugs anytime.

Voted up and useful.

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