Chocolate Mint Pelargonium - Illustration by Helen KrayenhoffScented geranium

Like sniffing the aroma of freshly roasted coffee, or a salty sea breeze, breathing the perfume of a scented geranium can help a person feel right with the world. Lemon, lime, rose, nutmeg, pine, peppermint and ginger are the flavors that are usually available, each with its own distinctive leaf shape, color and texture, as well as fragrance. My favorite varieties for fragrance and foliage are the velvety, greenish-black Pelargonium tomentosum ‘Chocolate Mint’ and the lemony, crinkly-textured Pelargonium crispum.

Scented geraniums are technically Pelargoniums, but despite that bit of botanical fussiness, fussy plants they are not: Grow scented geraniums in well-draining soil, in at least a half day of sun outdoors or near a bright window inside, protect from the hottest sun, water when dry-ish, mist if humidity is low, and fertilize lightly during the growing season. From time to time, trim back the scented geranium’s growing stems. This will help to keep the plants bushy, and also supply you with little wands of mood medicine! In gallons and 4” pots.