Peppermint-scented Geranium – Pelargonium tomentosum

One of a very large and much loved family, the Peppermint-scented Geranium is grown for its attractive flowers and velvety foliage, and for the strong peppermint smell from its leaves when they are rubbed between the fingers.

It is not a hardy plant but, like all Geraniums, it is very commonly grown outside as part of a summer display. Plants that are to be kept for the next season have to be brought in from the cold as soon as the temperature approaches 10°C (50°F) in the autumn. They must not be brought out again until the late spring, when all likelihood of frost has passed.

A sprawling or trailing plant, the Peppermint-scented Geranium has stems up to 1m (31/4ft) long. It rarely grows higher than 30cm (lft). The leaves are up to 13cm (5in) across and are approximately heart-shaped with rounded lobes. They are a mid-green and covered with velvety hair, and they smell of mint when rubbed.Peppermint-scented Geranium - Pelargonium tomentosum

The flowers are small, about 1 cm (3/8in) across, and are white with reddish marks on them. The variety ‘Variegatum’ has cream-edged leaves.

A sunny patio wall offers an excellent situation for the leafyFowth of Peppermint-scented Geranium.

Propagation

It is easy to increase Peppermint – scented Geranium by taking tip cuttings in summer. Choose a sturdy, healthy stem for best results.

1 Take a tip cutting 7.5-10cm (3-4in) long and trim off the lower leaf and any flower buds or flowers.

2 Dip the cut end into hormone rooting powder and put the cutting in a pot of barely moist compost made of a mixture of equal parts coarse sand or perlite and peat moss. Use a pot 7.5cm (3in) for single cuttings, or put a few cuttings together in a larger, 10cm (4in) pot.

3 Put the pot in a well-lit spot with filtered light and water the new plant or plants sparingly while rooting is taking place. The first sign of rooting is new growth, and this should take about 2 or 3 weeks to appear.

4 Gradually increase watering until the plant is being watered moderately. After about a month gradually move the cutting into bright sunshine and treat it as an adult plant.

5 When the roots of the cutting completely fill the pot, move it to a pot one size larger filled with well-drained, soil-based compost with added coarse sand. Pinch out some of the growing tips of young plants to encourage the development of bushy growth.

Pests And Diseases

A white, powdery deposit in spots or in a fine coating appearing on leaves or stems is an attack of mildew, or powdery mildew as it is sometimes called.

Treatment: Remove and destroy any badly affected leaves and spray the plant with a suitable fungicide.

The plant’s stem is black and rotting where it enters the potting compost and the plant collapses when infected with a disease known as black rot, black stem rot or black leg.

Treatment: This is most likely to be caused by overwatering or by the air being too humid. Do not overwater and keep in dry air. Plants affected cannot be saved but healthy top growth can be used as cuttings to make new plants.

PLANT CARE

Peppermint-scented Geranium needs the minimum of care, but make sure it has the right amount of light and water.

Potting: Pot in a small container using well-drained, soil-based compost. Repot larger plants every year, trimming the roots and cutting back top growth by about one half. Put them in a similar-sized pot with fresh mixture.

Water moderately in summer and sparingly in the winter.

Feeding: Apply a dilute liquid fertilizer (one containing plenty of potash) every 14 days during the active growing period.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

Light: Put Peppermint-scented Geranium where it will get plenty of bright sunshine. These plants flower and grow best with as much light as possible.

Temperature: Average room temperatures are fine during the summer. In winter temperatures must be kept at about 10°C (50°F). Plants outside in window-boxes or tubs must be brought indoors out of the cold.

Buying Tips

Can be bought in the spring for planting out in tubs or window-boxes.

Buy a compact plant with healthy foliage and many flower buds.

Will last only one summer if kept outside hut bringing it in each autumn will keep it going from season to season.

The potent, minty smell of this cheerful flowering plant gives it its name. It is easy to grow and likes a sunny spot to show off its velvety leaves and tiny flowers.

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