To grow Scented Geraniums indoors or outside...that is the question

(April 06, 2009)

Here's a question we received this week through our Feedback Form - please contact us if you have any questions, they are always welcome:


I really love my lemon scented geranium which always evokes memories of my childhood and my lovely mum who always had lots of house plants on every available surface. Is it possible to grow it outdoors and if so could I plant it in a border or raised bed ? I've only ever known it as a house plant and would love to try to grow it outdoors.

many thanks for your time, I look forward to your reply.

Our Reply:

Hi Glynis and many thanks for contacting us.

I remember my Grandma growing geraniums when I was a child and some had a lovely perfume.  Of course, I hadn’t a clue what they were at the time but I agree that the scents do evoke memories.

Basically, it’s about night temperature and where you are located as to whether you would be able to plant outside and leave all year round.  I do know a few of our customers do leave the SG’s out all year as they live by the coast and don’t tend to get frosts.  Personally, I wouldn’t risk it!!  In most parts of the UK you may plant outside from late May through to October and then you should lift and plant into pots to overwinter inside.  If you don’t have a greenhouse a shed would be OK, alternatively indoors.  I would suggest that if the SG’s are in a shed or unheated greenhouse I would cover them at night with horticultural fleece during the very cold nights.  It tends to be air frost that gets to them more than, say, ground frost.  2 winters ago we lost practically all of our parent plants in our unheated polytunnel when the temperature plummeted to -8 one night.  That was a very sharp learning curve.

Scented Geraniums do come in many forms – size, shape, habit, leaf colour and of course lots of different perfumes as well as lemon.  For example, Odoratissmum, apple scent, has a semi trailing habit and is very good for in hanging baskets or for window boxes.  If you like a plant that is on the dramatic side, Scilly Mauve is a good one as the leaf shape is unusual and it makes a large upright plant with good sized attractive flowers and has a spicy scent.  SG’s are herbs and the leaves may be used just like you would parsley, dill etc. in cooking. Try taking a few of your lemon leaves and placing these on a piece of fish and wrap in foil and bake in the oven.  Delicious.

I hope that the information is useful and I also hope it inspires you to grow lots of the other scenteds alongside the lemon one that you have.  Several grouped together in the garden or in containers make an awesome display!!

Best regards

Annie (& Guy)

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