My Gram always grew red geraniums in the summer. Each fall she would severely cut them back and they would sit through the winter on the high window ledge in the laundry room in our basement where it stayed cool. Those common geraniums have a district smell to them; sort of like a tomato plant has a district smells to them. I can’t describe it, but if you have smelled either one you know what I mean.
While I don’t have any of the common geraniums like Gram did, I always smile when I see one and think of her.
I also remember my mom would have scented geraniums from time to time and I always enjoyed the different types she had. They were always so alluring, drawing me over to brush a leaf and inhale slowly and deeply, drinking in that soft, subtle scent.
Remembering those wonderful scents and memories I picked up two rose geraniums (also known as rose-scented geraniums a few years ago so I could enjoy their fragrance.
I love picking a few leaves and putting them on my pillow. They eventually end up on my nightstand throughout the night, but their scent still lingers. I will sometimes pick a few leaves and lightly crush them and rub them on my arms. It is one of nature’s natural perfumes (and also a natural insect repellent!!)
I originally bought the rose geraniums for their soft, subtle scent. Later, I came across some information where lemon balm was used to make a scented fabric softener. I immediately tried it, but didn’t care for the finished scent, so I thought if you can use lemon balm, why not try rose geranium…. I did and I loved how it turned out.
Fill (lightly pack) your quart canning jar (or any glass jar – not metal) with the leaves from your scented geranium and cover with white distilled vinegar (the inexpensive kind in the big jug.) Let it sit for a few weeks or longer. Strain and use as you would any fabric softener. If you use a jar with a metal lid you should use a piece of wax paper between the metal lid and the jar opening or the vinegar will react with the metal on your lid. I tend to prepare my jars and forget about them until I run out and need to strain more, so they may actually sit for a few months. The last thing I want is to open my jar and find a rusty metallic smelling mess. That certainly isn’t a scent that I want to put on my clothes.
My two plants just wouldn’t keep up with the demand so I have started over 2-dozen others plants from my two originals. I will share some some of these new plants each month at the plant raffle at our local garden club meetings and the others I will keep and grow to pull leaves from.
Making fabric softener
When I run out of the rose geranium fabric softener I rely on plain white distilled vinegar with a few drops of essential oil. Rosemary is my current favorite. I do have jars of rosemary sitting in vinegar too for fabric softener. I just haven’t tried them yet. Since we only wash a load of clothes 1-2 times a week, it is hard to keep testing new scents.
What else can you do with rose geranium; make ice cream. Strawberry-rose geranium ice cream is lovely!
What a great plant, with so many purposes:
- It is pretty – nice green leaves
- It has a lovely scent
- You can use it to make scented fabric softener
- You can use it as a natural insect repellent
- You can use it to flavor ice cream
Do you already grow a scented geranium? How do you use yours?
You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.
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