Pelargonium with odorous leafby Filippo Figuera (Vivaio Malvarosa)
One of the fun aspects of my work as a nurseryman-collector is the opportunity to meet unusual and sometimes bizarre characters, but also completely normal people who, however, tell me strange stories or who ask me questions and questions that I frankly cannot answer. In particular during the market-exhibitions around Italy you have the opportunity to make these meetings. A lady long ago asked me if it was true that milk is good for pelargoniums. In fact I have no experience in this regard but I suppose that in any case, in not excessive doses, it shouldn't hurt! I only wonder if the best method of administration is by radical or foliar way. I imagine the cat of my curious client intent on cleaning the saucers of their delicious content.
Many questions do not concern the treatment that we must reserve for our geraniums but the usefulness that we can derive from their cultivation. In fact, in recent years there has been an increasing interest in "ancient recipes", for traditional and "natural" techniques that involved the use, in all homes, of herbs and products from the countryside. In many cases, in imagining and designing your own green corner, the ornamental value of plants is no longer considered, but great importance is given to the possibility of inserting plants that can perform multiple functions: furnish, diffuse a pleasant smell in the environment, season the most original dishes, chasing away unwanted insects etc.
MOSQUITOES AND PELARGONIUM
One of the most frequent questions concerns the repellent power of the leafy pelargonium against mosquitoes. Usually I turn this question over to those who asked it to me and I almost always hear it said that despite the presence of fragrant geraniums around the house, mosquitoes still come. In fact, I too have the same experience. In fact, mosquitoes not only come into the house but are also happy to stay in the area of the nursery where I keep the fragrant geraniums.
So why are candles, sprays and ointments perfumed with geranium essence used? Could it be a scam? Maybe a scam that is based on the fashion of the "natural recipe"? In fact it's not like that, it's not a scam! An essential oil, geraniol, is extracted from the pelargonium (in particular from P. graveolens and its horticultural varieties), which is used in the perfume industry and in the production of insect repellent substances. The effect that one or more plants placed next to the front door can give (which spread their smell to a gust of wind or the rubbing of clothes) cannot be comparable to that of a candle that gives off a precise mix of odors and certainly effective. So if we want to keep mosquitoes away without using insecticides and chemicals, we can also use geraniol-based products, but we don't expect much help from the geraniums on our terrace.