2010-10-07 / Features

The Potting Shed

Plants With “Good Scents” Move Indoors
By Carole McCray

McCray McCray It’s that time of the year. We begin to look at our plants in the garden and want to prolong their blooms. The solution is to move them indoors and continue to enjoy them.

Not all

plants winter well indoors, but provide them with the best conditions and your plants should remain healthy and adjust to the move. The plants suggested here are known for the fragrance found in their leaves. Aside from simply enjoying their pleasing scents, the leaves of the plants are useful in the kitchen, in the bath and in potpourris and sachets.

For example, rosemary can be potted up from your herb garden and set on the kitchen counter, readily accessible for handy snipping to flavor dishes. Rosemary’s pine scent is refreshing. It is the pungent fragrant oil in the leaves that give rosemary a strong aromatic scent and will have you enjoying its vibrant fragrance if set in a sunny spot. Rosemary complements meat, vegetables and fish, and finely minced rosemary leaves are nice to flavor home-baked breads. Add a few sprigs to the bath water and rejuvenate your spirit.

Scented geraniums Scented geraniums Known for their pleasing fragrant leaves, scented geraniums are wonderful indoor plants. Before you bring them indoors, take cuttings from the plant to share with other gardeners. My favorite is ‘Dr. Livingston,’ a lemon-rose scented geranium with finely textured leaves in a skeletal design. Sometimes it will show its miniscule, deep pink flowers around Valentine’s Day, a cheerful note on a snowy February day.

The leaves of scented geraniums easily find their way into recipes. For a one-layer cake, place a few leaves at the bottom of a cake pan to impart the scent of the leaves to the cake. Invert the cake to remove from the pan and remove the leaves. A pretty outline of the leaves will remain; dust with powdered sugar for a lovely presentation.

The fragrance of scented geraniums are numerous. There are apple, lime, mint, nutmeg, pineapple and rose just to name a few. To have sugar with the scent of the geranium’s leaves, place a few leaves in a bowl or canister for a couple weeks and use the sugar in baking.

Lavender is a favorite of gardeners. To continue enjoying indoors the beautiful fragrance of this Mediterranean herb, keep in mind it will require a similar condition as to that in the outdoor garden. Lavender can take lots of sunshine and very little water, so water only when the plant is completely dry, and give it plenty of sunny days.

‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’ are two varieties of lavender that are hardy growers. Snip some of the branches and hang in closets to repel moths. Lavender pillows are filled with the dried blossoms, and many herbalists claim lavender eases stress and ensures a relaxing sleep. Scent the bath water with lavender just as the Greeks and Romans of ancient times did. This popular and aromatic herb is a culinary herb added to jellies and enhances flavors in cakes and cookies, sorbets and herbal vinegars.

Most plants moved indoors require at least four to six hours of direct sunlight to thrive once inside. Windows with southern or eastern exposure are the ideal locations for these plants. Move plants around the house into temporary locations for immediate enjoyment; then relocate them to where they should remain to thrive under optimum conditions.

If you find the plant is not thriving, it could be the location. If the plant is not receiving the amount of direct sun needed, move the plant to a brighter spot or try using grow lights and keep the soil slightly moist but never soggy. This is especially true of all these fragrant plants.

Feeling forlorn once the garden season winds down, think about moving some of your garden indoors. On sunny windowsills, tables or a window shelf, a favorite plant or two can decorate your home.

If you love that plant so much, you will find an indoor spot for it.

Carole McCray lives, writes and gardens in the scenic Laurel Highlands east of Ligonier, Pa. She is an award-winning writer; her most recent award was the Garden Writers Association Award for her article on Native Seeds, which appeared in The Christian Science Monitor newspaper. She can be reached at mountain26@verizon.net.

Photo courtesy of Carole McCray.

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