The geranium is not only a beautiful garden plant, but is also useful for its healing properties. Native to South Africa, the plant produces essential oils in small glands around the foliage and flowers. Geranium oil can be harvested when the plant starts flowering and can be taken 2 or 3 times a year.
The oil of the Geranium makes a good astringent and can be diluted with water and used topically to help clean the face or in a bath . It also has great antiseptic properties and is said to help restore the balance to dry or oily skin and hair. You can also make a tea with the leaves and flowers or an oil infusion. The geranium is considered to be safe for most people (those with an autoimmune disease and those who are pregnant should avoid it) and can be used as an herb in cooking as well.
In addition to its astringent qualities, the geranium also has soothing qualities and is helpful in relieving symptoms of anxiety as well as PMS and menopausal symptoms. The geranium is reputed to help heal bruises, cuts and scrapes, eczema, hemorrhoids, nail fungus and sunburns as well as help with insomnia and varicose veins. It is also said to be a great natural insect repellent and is well known in the ancient world as a tick repellent for dogs and humans alike!
How to Make Geranium Tea:
You can make a tea from dried or fresh geranium leaves. For dried leaves, use 2 teaspoons, for fresh use /14 cup. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the leaves and let sit for 5 minutes. Strain the leaves out and drink.
How to Make A Geranium Compress:
Pour boiling water over the dried geranium herbs. Cover tightly and let sit for 15 minutes. Strain out the herb so that you are left with the infused water. Soak a cotton cloth in the infusion and squeeze it out so it is only damp. Apply the compress.
How to Make a Geranium Oil Infusion:
Fill a jar with the dried herbs almost to the top. Pour in extra virgin olive oil – make sure the oil covers the herbs and goes 1” above the volume of the botanicals. Put in the sun for two weeks shaking it daily. Strain out the flowers. You can store this infusion in the fridge for up to three months.
Growing Geraniums Indoors
You already know that geraniums thrive outdoors, in summer flower beds or containers, but did you know that geraniums can be grown successfully indoors all year round?
You can over-winter geraniums that you have in your garden by bringing them indoors. There are two common ways to do this: you can take top-growth cuttings about four to five inches long and root them in a suitable cutting medium, then transplant the rooted geranium cuttings to grow in pots in a sunny windowsill. Or you can dig up the whole geranium from your garden, cut the growth back to six inches, and let it grow back naturally in a suitably sized pot.
Geraniums prefer to dry out somewhat between watering and will benefit from bi-weekly fertilizing, either soluble fertilizer added to the water, or slow-release fertilizer added to the pot soil.