A Flower with Power
Hummingbirds can't resist scented geraniums.
It never ceases to amaze me the power that some flowers have to attract hummingbirds. A garden filled with nectar plants like fuchsia, bee balm, trumpet creeper, hibiscus or salvia will always appeal to their taste. But a flower that can draw a hummer's attention from over 30 feet away—now that's a flower with power.
For me, scented geraniums (Pelargonium
) are that powerful flower.
For years, we had a large, lemon-scented geranium growing in an oak barrel inside our solarium. One warm spring day, we left the screen door open. The scented geranium was at least 30 feet from the screen door, but the flowers still caught the attention of a female rufous hummingbird. It quickly zipped through the open door and right to the pink mass of nectar-rich blooms.
With over 100 varieties, scented geraniums also attract gardeners with an enticing array of unique fragrances.
Depending on the variety, the scents might be fruity like strawberry, pineapple, apricot, citrus and apple, or even coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Many also smell of rose, peppermint or pine. The intensity of the aroma differs among varieties, but citrus-scented types are particularly bold.
The scents come from the leaves of these plants, rather than the flowers. When bruised or crushed even slightly, the leaves emit a strong fragrance.
Scented geraniums are primarily grown for their aromatic foliage. The flowers may not be big and bold, but the clusters of blooms are still quite beautiful—especially when bejeweled by a hovering hummingbird.
These South African natives can be grown as a tender perennial in frost-free regions, or as an annual where winters are cold. In my Zone 7B Oregon garden, we grow them as annuals and tender perennials, since they can tolerate a light frost when heavily mulched.
Some varieties are low growing to 1 foot tall, others form 3-foot mounds, and still others grow in a trailing habit.
Scented geraniums are especially powerful when placed where their fragrant foliage and nectar flowers can be fully enjoyed-by people and hummingbirds.