The botanical name is Geraniaceae (family) Pelargonium (species). Geranium’s origins are rooted in South Africa, where it is a perennial plant. Geranium made its way to Europe in the 1600’s. By the middle of the 18th century, pelargonium had been introduced to the United States. The easiest way to propagate scented geraniums is by cuttings. They should be treated as tender perennials and keep in mind that they require overwintering indoors.
The history and legends of Geranium state that God hung his shirt to dry on a weed. When the shirt dried, he was so pleased that he gave the weed red flowers and a lovely aroma. That weed became our scented geranium! Some people believe white geraniums will repel snakes but here, in Ireland, I didn’t get a chance to test this property of the scented geranium. There are many references to scented geranium uses among Native Americans. The eastern tribes tended to use it as an astringent and as treatment for disorders such as thrush and mouth ulcers. As geraniums were transported west, they were used for nosebleeds and skin sores. The Navajo called it “life medicine”. Some tribes used it to treat venereal disease or placed it in tea to counteract a “love medicine”. Red geraniums are reputed to warn witches of visitors.
There are many uses for geranium. The plant in addition to going into potpourri, can be infused into base oils to use in soap making, cosmetic and toiletry products. The dried leaves can also be added to powders or scrubs. Many varieties can be made into delicious teas or jellies.
The essential oil of geranium is presented in many varieties. If it’s not listed on the label, ask your essential oils supplier what geranium variety their oils are derived from. Geranium oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties as do many other essential oils. It is popular in skin care as it has anti-inflammatory and sebum balancing properties as well. Geranium oil is particular appealing to women as it seems to balance fluctuating hormones in the various stages of life. It is considered yin in character and is associate with the planet Venus. The flower essence of geranium is not available from the usual sources but there are a few artisan producers of geranium flower essence. They say that it is effective in dealing with negative energy deliberat
ely sent by others. It could be as simple as road rage, to a more focused negative energy. For people sensitive to negative emotions the essence of scented geranium might be helpful.
For an “I am a woman” blend, consider combining clary sage with geranium, along with other essential oils known for soothing and calming such as lavender. Infuse dried scented geranium leaves into oils for use in lotions. Facial steams can be made using scented geranium leaves. For the least mess and most convenience, package them in heat-sealable tea bags. The same can be done for tub teas. Add geranium essential oil to your facial products for a balancing effect.