Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Scenteds Inside!

'Goldfinger' on the left; 'Mabel Grey' on the right
'Lemon Meringue'
'Wooly Peppermint' Top
'Wooly Peppermint' Bottom
'Lemon Balm'
'Lemon Crispum' is Struggling!
When I flipped the 2015 Herbal Calendar this morning to see February's topic, it was scented geraniums or pelargoniums.  We are always running around the herb garden trying to dig up the plants we think will make it inside for the winter.  Sometimes we make great decisions and others not so much.  We have never had too much success with pineapple sage or Peruvian sage coming inside.  The Peruvian sage was blooming beautifully this year when we brought it in and then collapsed once it got inside.

We do take cuttings of scenteds, but sometimes The Herbal Husband likes to dig the whole plant.  I have found with scented pelargoniums that they need a bright light source to survive the winter.  The Herbal Husband always is trying to prove me to be incorrect!  We don't have much window space in this house that is south or west.  East has the Christmas (Thanksgiving) cactus on it.  West has the upright rosemary and a prostrate rosemary.  So the south window in the living room has three scenteds, from the left 'Goldfinger', which was used by Victorians in finger bowls to perfume the water, 'Mabel Grey' "a stronger less sweet flavor from larger leaves and overall plant size from 'Lemon Meringue'" as described in the Mulberry Creek Herb Farm catalog which is shown in the second photo and then 'Lemon Meringue' which is very, very upright and columnar in shape and has a very intense fragrance of lemon.  It also has a stiffer leaf.

So the next scenteds described are in the basement with artificial light.  'Lime' is doing OK because it has that extra bit of cuticle on the leaf and is shaped like a small shrub.  I know that's not the right word, but it has leaf structure similar to the 'Lemon Meringue'.  Then the 'Wooly Peppermint' which should have collapsed by now and hasn't.  A couple of years ago, it was in the exact same spot in the basement and went to one or two leaves.  It was moved to the garage and it came roaring back.  This one will get a big trim before it goes on to the patio because it has become spindly on top.  We don't put the 'Wooly Peppermint' into the garden, because it is the one scented pelargonium that needs shade.  The other lemon scented in the basement is 'Lemon Balm'.  It is again very upright and it just smells like lemon balm without all of the seeding!

The last photo is of a two year 'Lemon Crispum' which is on life support.  It struggled in the basement and when I finally spotted it and moved it to the garage, it was too far gone.  So that upper left corner is still alive and we will take cuttings and start again.  Here are the propagation from stem cuttings tips from Jim Becker & Faye Brawner's book, Scented Geraniums.

"1.  Fill a 2-1/2-inch (6-cm) pot with a soilless mix for each cutting that you plan to take.  Very lightly settle the mix with your fingers and then water the pot until the excess trickles out of the drainage holes.  The soil should now be about 1/2 inch (1 cm) below the rim of the pot.

2.  Select a healthy, established stock plant from which to take the cuttings.

3.  Select actively growing shoots that are firm and not floppy.  You can take cuttings throughout the growing season, but success is more certain in spring and fall.  Don't use the oldest woody (brown) portions of the stem.  Each cutting should include at least three stem nodes, but four or five are better.  A node is the point on the stem at which the leaves are attached.

4.  With a single-edged razor blade (especially good for thick stems) or very sharp scissor-type gardening shears, make your cut just above a node on the stock plant.  If the stems are long enough and you need more propagating material, you can also take cuttings below the tip.  Don't leave a stub; it can become a target for disease.

5.  Recut the cutting to just below its lowest node.  This is the spot where root formation is best.

6.  Remove the leaves from the stem that will be under or chose to the soil surface.  it is best to bury at least two or three nodes.  Also remove any stipules that are found at the base of the leaf stems, since these can rot if buried.

7.  With a sharpened pencil, make a hole in the center of the soilless mix deep enough to bury the lower nodes and insert the cutting.  Settle the soil around the cutting by gently rewatering the pot.

8.  Place the potted cuttings in a spot out of the wind or direct sunlight.  If the weather is cool, place them on a heating mat.  Rooting is quickest and most successful when the soil temperature is 70 to 80 degrees F. (21 to 27 degrees C).  The soil should be kept evenly moist through out the rooting process."

Really scented pelargoniums do very well inside in our winters.  They do very well on our drafty old windowsills and give you a breath of summer when you need it.  There was a lovely article about scenteds in the latest issue of Country Gardens magazine.  They were offering a cookbook and of course, I had to have one.
The Scented Leaf Cookbook by Betty Mathers
It is clock full of all kinds of recipes using scenteds written by Betty Mathers of Iowa.  One of my friends, Elizabeth on Facebook suggested that I could start using the cookbook already because I had some scenteds inside!  Guess I should get busy!

Today (February 2) 'Mabel Grey' Decided to Bloom!
We didn't get a whole lot of snow yet.  Maybe the worst is yet to come.  Hope you are staying warm and cozy wherever you may be.  Thought I had better do a bit more posting than I did in January.  Will try!  Doing a lot more reading which could translate into posts!  We will see.  Talk to you later.


PeggyR said...

We are getting blasted today with snow. Always enjoy reading and seeing your herbal things!

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Thanks Peggy! I think we getting rain at the moment. Won't be good when it freezes tomorrow. Glad you had a great birthday. xo

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

How wonderful to have so many scented plants, even in your winters.

We 'had' chilly weather this past week, yesterday was perfect, today was partly cloudy and got up to 75.

Have a good week ~ FlowerLady

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Yes it is wonderful FL! Hope your temps get warmer. We are going to be colder, but it is still winter! Have a great week as well. xo

Anonymous said...

We got lots of snow yesterday and last night. Our neighborhood is a snowy winter wonderland.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

We had some rain Suzanne and now the freeze is on. Enjoy your winter wonderland!