Thursday, January 30, 2014

a winter antidote

Winter is still in full swing here. Right now the snow is coming down. I am still enjoying winter's beauty, but I have to admit that my thoughts have been straying toward spring a bit more every day. It does feel spring-like inside. I have plants in every room in the house. Flowers on many of them. It's not the same, but it does help. What makes for a wonderful winter antidote is tending those plants. The other day I noticed that my scented geraniums could use a little attention.




Scented geraniums make wonderful houseplants if you have a sunny window. Historically geraniums (pelargoniums, not true geraniums) were one of the first plants to be grown inside. They are easy to grow and so cheerful. I have a bit of a thing for scented geraniums; how could I resist plants that smell like roses or lemons or apples or mint...? I can't.




And while we're on the topic of the mint scented geranium... It has velvety soft leaves and will thrive even if it doesn't get as much sun as other geraniums demand, making it the easiest to grow. At Christmas when my brother, who is not much of a plant person, was visiting he stood stroking the mint geranium's leaves and asked "What IS this plant?"




It just begs to be petted; it is SO soft and smells so good.

During the winter, scented geraniums may start to look a little scraggly. They usually have a few dead or yellow leaves and their growth will get a little leggy with the decreased light. It's simple to get them back into shape and at this time of year that task is a perfect antidote to winter.

I took my plants into the kitchen and pulled off all the dead and yellow leaves. This is a delightful job because the leaves smell wonderful and all that touching brings out their fragrance. Next I did some pruning. The leggy growth? I cut it off. Any bits that I cut off that had long enough stems I put in water to try to root (I remove the leaves near the bottom of each stem first). I have never had success rooting geraniums directly in soil, but plop them in a jar of water and eventually they'll form roots. Once they have enough roots, I'll plant them in soil.




They look pretty in the window until then.




After pruning, I thoroughly soaked them in the kitchen sink before returning them to their places in the windows.





Much better.

If it's cold and wintry where you are, I hope you're finding your own antidotes to the weather.



9 comments:

  1. A lovely post Anne. I really wanted some scented leaf geraniums as house plants but the garden centre said they are not due in until the springtime. I will just have to be patient but when I do get them I will follow your tips on propagation. Did you know that you can make flavoured sugars with them? That is something else I would like to try.

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    1. I've seen recipes for pound cakes flavored with their leaves. I've never tried them. Hope you find some fun varieties in the springtime!

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  2. That sounds like a lovely plant Anne. I will ask my mom if she has one in the greenhouse that she works at. She probably already has one in her home that she can root for me. Are they slow growing?

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    1. There are so many different varieties and they each have a different growth habit. The larger leafed varieties generally grow into larger plants and the smaller leafed varieties are smaller plants. They all grow pretty fast during the summer outside and inside they are slower. You can trim them to keep them from becoming monsters.

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  3. I still have Christmas cactus blooming, a wild red amaryllis, a hyacinth ready to bloom and the rosemary on the windowsill is hanging in. Lots of other green things. All very necessary for maintaining winter sanity.

    :-)

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    1. Hooray for green and growing things! :)

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  4. Anne, you give your beautiful geraniums so much love and they look very happy and loved. My mum loves geranium too. Big, big hugs to you.

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  5. Not sure if you remember but you gave me a start of your scented geranium last summer. After rooting it in a pot and allowing it outside all summer I have it hanging in the living room window right next to our couch! Brings me joy too. I would rather have smell in a plant than just scentless pretty flowers! Btw, I been really trying to behave in not buying more plants( a hard thing for me to do!) this year I am setting myself up to have more time to finish our house. We shall see how it goes. Have you received your David Austin catalog yet?! I just need some roses to smell right now! haha

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  6. A wonderfully written post accompanied by such lovely photos! I too enjoy growing Pelargoniums indoors. Actually, I'm not much of a houseplant person, but these I truly get a kick out of and they hardy take any effort at all! They really do beg to be petted. ;)

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