Scented geraniums (storksbill) are often confused with geranium plants (cranesbill geranium). The storksbills belong to the genus pelargonium and the cranesbills to the genus geranium. They are related with each other and both are members (genera) of the geraniaceae family.
In general, pelargoniums are tender perennials and geraniums are hardy perennials. Both genera are very popular garden plants!
The name storksbill refers to the form of the fruit. The fruits are longish and resemble a bill of a stork. There are about 200 to 300 different scented geranium species. Almost all of these have their origin in Southern Africa (they belong to the Cape Floristic Region) mainly in South Africa and Namibia. Yet, some species thrive in the tropical areas of eastern and northeastern Africa up to Ethiopia. Only very few wild species grow outside the African continent.
Pelargonium cultivars and hybrids are very popular among gardeners. These plants are easy to grow and to care for; yet, they simply look (and smell) fantastic!
The number of all cultivars, hybrids and varieties are almost countless and they have been divided into six major groups:
These are the common garden “geraniums” that grow upright. They have small and pretty flowers and their leaves are almost round have a coloured band.
Ivy geraniums (Ivy leaved pelargoniums)
These are pelargonium peltatum hybrids. Their leaves look somewhat similar to ivy leaves, hence the name. They have lots of very attractive flowers and are often used in hanging baskets because all the varieties are either half-hanging or hanging.
These summer flowering plants have big, splendid flowers and a bushy foliage.
They have attractive flowers and their leaves are lobbed and often slightly scented. They are shrubby and woody-stemmed pelargoniums.
These plants have pretty pansy-like flowers that have a very long flowering season from mid-spring to autumn. Some have a strong, pleasant scent.
Some pelargoniums have a dense, juicy foliage that contains rather strong aroma compounds hence the by-name “scented”. They release a pleasant fragrance when crushed. Examples of well-known scented species/varieties are:
Pelargonium crispum – lemon-scented
Pelargonium citrodorum – orange-scented
Pelargonium fragrans – nutmeg-scented
Pelargonium graveolens – roses-scented
Pelargonium odoratissimum – apple- and lemon-scented
Pelargonium quercifolia– pine needles-scented
Pelargonium quercifolium – almond-scented
Pelargonium tomentosum – peppermint-scented