Pelargonium quercifolium

Oakleaf Geranium

  • Balsam scent
  • Perfect in planters on the porch
  • Great insect repellent

  • Category: Herbs
  • Hardiness Zone: 9-10
  • Height: 1-2 ft
  • Spread: 1-2 ft
  • Foliage Color: Green Shades

Small pink flowers have mauve markings while the foliage is dark green, oak-leaf, shaped and has a balsam scent. Plant this upright grower in pots, smaller gardens, or along a pathway. Will flourish through the summer heat. Great insect-repellent.

Foliage Color
Maintenance and Care
Drought Tolerant
Fast Growing
Heat Tolerant
Low Maintenance
Attracts Wildlife
Supports Bees
Flower Color
Sara's Superb Herbs
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Summer Bloomer
Late Summer
Full Sun
Soil Moisture
Average Water
Moist, Well-Drained
Growing & Maintenance Tips for Pelargonium quercifolium

Scented geraniums are not difficult to grow. By following a few easy tips, they will flourish. They grow best in temperatures that range from 50 to 60 degrees at night and 65 to 75 degrees during the day. In frost-free areas they can be grown outdoors all year. They like fast-draining soil and full sun. When grown in a pot, use a soil-less mix of half peat moss and half perlite. Garden soils pack down and drain too slowly, depriving the roots of oxygen. They like a slightly acid soil close to a pH of 6.5.

They do well in dry areas where other plants might have difficulty surviving. Pathways edged with scenteds give off their fragrance when passer-bys brush against them. Their varied leaf shapes, texture, color, and variegation make them ideal for a window box. Try combining them with nasturtiums, pink or purple petunias, trailing verbenas, and ground ivy. Don't crowd the plants as they need good air circulation. In frost areas, they can be grown as annuals or brought in during winter. They do well on a windowsill. Do not bring them in after the night temperature drops below 45°F, as they will be shocked by the warmth, causing leaves to yellow and drop. Scenteds need four hours of sunlight. In lieu of this, fluorescent lights mounted a few inches from their tops will provide enough light. Repot your scenteds every 2 years.

Scented Geraniums are fussy about how they are watered. Over-watering promotes soil-borne diseases and soft growth. Under-watering causes slow growth and yellow-wilted leaves. Water when the top of the soil feels dry. Water until it runs out the drainage holes. This not only wets the soil, but flushes out salts left from fertilizers. Never let pots sit in a saucer of water, and keep water off foliage and flowers to prevent the spread of diseases. Watering in the morning on a sunny day keeps leaves from being wet all night.

Scented Geranium are heavy feeders of magnesium. A teaspoon of Epsom salts will provide enough magnesium for good growth. During the growing season from April to October, fertilize with 15-15-15 or 15-30-15 mix, applying half the recommended amount every second watering. Fertilize this way every eighth watering the rest of the year.

Except for the few that are compact, scented geraniums need to be pruned for a full shape. Otherwise, they become ungainly and leggy. Snipping off the tip of a growing stem will force it to grow at the nodes. Pruning should begin once the plant is 4-5 nodes or 6" tall. Snip off the tip with sharp scissors or a razor blade. Shoots will grow within 2 to 3 weeks. Once the plant is shaped to your liking, allow it to bloom. This will take 6 to 8 weeks. After that continue removing browned leaves, excessive growth, and spent flowers. If you wish to propagate new plants, allow the plant to grow beyond where you regularly trim. New growth should be 4 to 5 nodes in length. The best time of the year to prune is late winter/early spring.