The Scented Geraniums

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    Ideal plants for those value fragrance rather than color, are the scented-leaved geraniums.

    These offer a combination of pleasant perfumes and a wide variety of foliage form and texture. Since they are plants that are comparatively easy of culture, maintaining a collection is relatively simple.

    Scented geraniums can be grown as house plants, in a greenhouse or as garden subjects left out all year in the more temperate south and southwestern parts of the country. They demand only ordinary care. Give them good garden loam, sunshine, moderate water, a reasonable amount of feeding, as well as occasional pinching, and they will thrive happily.

    The scented varieties never become dormant. During dark, winter days, to be sure, they do not grow as fast as in spring and summer, but they always remain in full leaf, their hidden fragrance awaiting the slightest touch. As house plants, they are excellent, where they succeed in any sunny window. They are also not excessively sensitive to house conditions, such as dry atmosphere, high temperatures and the occasional presence of minute amounts of gas.

    When to Water

    Water these geraniums only when the soil begins to dry, but then do it thoroughly. One way to determine the moisture of the soil is to feel it with the fingers. Another is to tap the pot lightly with a stick. The quality and pitch of the tapping sound indicates the degree of saturation. A dull, heavy sound means the soil is moist, while a sharp, ringing sound that it is dry. Some growers, after a little practice, can determine the amount of moisture by the weight of the pot. Always, however, take care to avoid the easy method of watering plants by a set schedule. The condition of the plants themselves should be the only guide for watering.

    Pinching plants is necessary to induce branching. The blind -grower finds out when to do this by feeling their shape. Only the growing tips should he removed gently with the fingers. Since the scented varieties are naturally more bushy than the zonals, they require less pinching.

    Repotting plants like the butterfly bush is needed only a couple of times a year. When the pot becomes full of roots, move to a larger container. At any time, the root ball can be gently removed from the pot and the roots felt with the fingers to determine if repotting is necessary. The "scenteds" will be healthier, however, if kept slightly pot bound to maintain firm, woody growth. Plants grown from cuttings taken in late summer are satisfactory for house plants and do not require so much room as older, larger specimens.

    Fertilizing is scarcely a problem. Newly-potted cuttings do not need feeding for several months. After that give a light sprinkling of ammonium sulphate or a balanced chemical fertilizer. The root ball should be moist before feeding to avoid burning the tender roots. Fertilizing during the period of slow growth is not advisable.


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