Pelargonium scabrum and other lemon scented species

pelargonium scabrum

Pelargonium scabrum is a charming pelargonium that has strong lemon-scented leaves with quite a rough texture & rhomboidal in shape. The flowers are white but can also be pink with purple markings on the upper petals and each flowering stalk contains about six flowers. It is an upright branching shrub that grows to about 100 cm /39 inches in height native to the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape where it grows in dry, rocky and coastal areas which has summer and winter rainfall.
The name ‘scabrum’ is derived from the Latin meaning having a raised texture, this refers to the leaves of this plant which is covered in rough hairs. Ideal for pots, tubs, fragrant gardens, rock gardens and succulent gardens. This plant prefers dry sandy loam soil conditions (PH. Acid/neutral) in full sun. It differs from the other strongly scented Pelargonium citronellum below by its larger leaves which are palmate in shape with pointed lobes and is also taller than P. scabrum reaching a height of 2 m. The flowers are also larger in size and purplish-pink in colour with darker markings on the upper petals. It is native to the Western Cape where it grows near streams or on hillsides.

pelargonium citronellum

Another lemon-scented pelargonium is P. crispum below which also has rough leaves but are much smaller in size with crisped margins. It is an upright plant that grows to about 70 cm /28 inches in height with large pink flowers and darker markings on the upper petals which shows some likeness to P. hermanniifolium.

Pelargonium vitifolium below has a somewhat lemony balm scent on the leaves, which resembles a vine leaf in shape with stiff hairs and are rough to the touch. It is a large upright shrub with coarsely toothed heart-shaped leaves, this shrub can grow quite large and may take over quite a wide area if not pruned in a Mediterranean type climate, it can also survive for short periods of frost or snow when fully grown.

The Pelargonium blandfordianum hybrid and its related cultivars

pelargonium blandfordianum

Pelargonium blandfordianum is a lovely pelargonium with deeply incised grayish leaves which are fragrant with a scent of rose and white flowers with reddish blotches on the under petals.
It is believed to be a hybrid between P. radula and P. quinquevulnereum. There are a few variations of this plant, ‘album’ refers to the white flowered form and ‘roseum’ to the rose pink flowered form
which has a distinct rosy wormwood fragrance on the leaves.

This hybrid was developed during the early 1800s, introduced by George Spencer Churchill the Marquis of Blandford to which this plant derives its name. George Spencer was a keen and accomplished botanist while he resided at White knights park estate, a medieval manor which is now part of the university of Reading (white knights campus).
Here he became widely known for has large collection of rare and exotic plants from around the globe. Various species were also transported there from the royal gardens by order of the king. George took out a loan to expand and enhance his new estate, creating many new features, such as the ‘Chantilly garden’ which contained several conservatories possibly for tropical plants, a vineyard, bridges, a wide variety of trees, a botanical garden with a wide selection of unique plants, many from America, a wilderness and many seats, fountains, grotto’s and pavilions. Later the gardens fell into decline after George Spencer became bankrupt and his creditors set fire to his house in rage, the rest of the estate was sold off. But remains of the gardens was again found after the world wars.

photo by James Eggleton-unsplash.com

Pelargonium radula is a parent of the hybrid Pelargonium blandfordianum, it has decorative deeply incised leaves with a lemony rose fragrance and small pale pink flowers with dark purple markings on the upper petals. It has similar characteristics to P. graveolens which is closely related and possibly an equivalent to P. radens or a clone and also has a few forms with varied flower colours. The other parent is
Pelargonium quinquevulnereum

which was also believed to have been a hybrid, grown by Mr Armstrong who lived in Hampshire, that shares some similarities to Pelargonium graveolens.

Pelargonium radens is a tall upright shrub with delicate grey green finely divided leaves and light purple flowers with darker markings on the upper petals. The fragrance of the leaves are rose lemon scented and grows well in medium to large pots often growing beside other Plants.
Pelargonium graveolens has soft velvety triangular deeply incised leaves which have a somewhat rosy mint scent, a well known pelargonium since the 17th century in food and beverages, tea, potpourri and perfume.
Other hybrids related to Pelargonium radens or Pelargonium graveolens is P. ‘citrosum’ which has strong citronella lemon fragrance with pale pink flowers also known as the mosquito plant which is popular in the United States & Canada and is a cultivar of P. graveolens, also said to help deter mosquitoes.

P. ‘lady plymouth’ is a hybrid from the species
P. ‘graveolens’ with silver & cream leaves which
are variegated with a minty scent and light
purple flowers, there is also a similar cultivar
known as P ‘grey lady plymouth‘ with has grey
green leaves.
P. ‘Cinnamon rose’ has spicy cinnamon
scented leaves, and an upright growth with short
branches and pale purple flowers.
P. ‘Secret love’ is a eucalyptus scented leaf
pelargonium with light pink flowers showing
some characteristics to P. capitaum.
P. x melissinum is a cross between P. crispum
and P. graveolens which has large lemon balm
scented deeply cut leaves and pink flowers.

P. ‘rosemint’ has mint rose scented
leaves which are variegated and is used in
perfumes, showing some similarities to P.
lady plymouth.
P. ‘westerlund’ rose lemon scented leaf
close resembling that of P. graveolens.

Pelargonium crispum

Pelargonium crispum is now flowering for the first time, it is an upright branching slightly woody shrub that grows to 70cm (28in) with small fan shaped lemon scented leaves which are crisped around the edges.

Essential oils can be extracted from the leaves and is native to the South Western Cape where it grows on mountain sides and rocky areas.

Young pelargoniums in Spring

The young plants of pelargonium crispum & tomentosum are still growing well on the outside window sill, they have each been covered by plastic bottle tops to protect them from the cold throughout winter.

As the days are now getting warmer in spring, we can now start to gradually remove the tops during warm sunny days.

P. tomentosum has soft peppermint scented heart shaped leaves, it is a low growing branching shrub with white flowers which have pale purple markings on the upper petals and are native to areas of the South Western Cape next to forests,

P. crispum has tiny strong lemon scented leaves, it is an upright shrub that grows to about 70 cm 28 inches in height with large pink flowers.