My Aromatherapy Garden: The First Year

Posted on: August 29th, 2016 by
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Planting Seeds for an Aromatic Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Planting Seeds for an Aromatic Garden: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Aromatic Gardening: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved
Aromatic Gardening: Photo Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

When I first decided to grow an aromatherapy garden, I thought a few plants in pots would do it. However, once I started growing aromatic plants this year, both the garden and my future plans took on a life of their own! Here’s a quick review of how the first year of creating my own aromatic garden turned out.

Aromatic Pots: Mint, Thyme, Oregano, and Basil

If you only have a small space in which to grow plants, or you simply want to add a bit of fragrance to your patio, planters and pots are the way to go. It’s relatively easy to pick up a few aromatic herbs from your local garden center and plant them either alone, or in groupings, in a patio pot or two.

I tried the following herbs in pots on the patio this year and they basically took care of themselves – with a little bit of watering now and then! With a hot and unforgiving Arizona sun in June and July, these plants enjoyed early morning sun, followed by afternoon shade to flourish:

  • Mint: Both spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

  • Melissa (Melissa officinalis).

Tip: Depending on your location, you will often find different cultivars of the common species in local garden centers. I also found chocolate peppermint (great with ice-cream!) and Thai basil.

Aromatic Herb Garden from Seed

This was the first year that I grew aromatic plants from seed. I did go a little crazy (or so I thought) and ordered all sorts of wonderful seeds for planting back in January when my garden was just a dream! However, I soon discovered that one can simply not have too many seeds! I will be ordering double the quantity for my annuals, and more perennials, this next year. Location and climate – both in general, and the micro-climate of your own garden – will dictate, to some extent, the success of which herbs and aromatic plants grow well. My seed garden was planted in newly-created raised beds which took in morning sun and afternoon shade. I found success with the following seeds:

  • Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum)

  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

  • Borage (Borago officinalis)

  • Bee balm (Monarda spp.)

  • Sunflower (Helianthius annuus).

Tip: If shade is not naturally provided by an obliging tree or plant, use garden shade covers which allow rain to penetrate, but protect the plants from the harsh sun.

Aromatic Flowers and Shrubs

Of course, there are some aromatic flowers and shrubs that you would like in your garden simply for their aroma and beauty! The following flowers and plants caught my eye (and nose) and will hopefully bring years of pleasure in my garden:

  • Sage (Salvia spp.) – in addition to traditional sage, there are various cultivars and genus available locally to me and I have several of these starting to fill up my garden. The bees and butterflies love them, too!

  • Rose (Rosa spp.) – in search for the perfect, aromatic rose, I have invested in several rose species this year, some of which are climbers. Although I have not had many blooms from these young plants yet, I envisage future years full of fragrance!

  • Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) – although there was a lilac bush on property when I moved here, it unfortunately died due to lack of water and care. So, I planted a new, young bush (with access to water and lots of TLC) in the hope that spring will be heavy with the scent of lilac in subsequent years.

  • Clematis (Clematis spp.) – at the beginning of the season, this plant looked like it had completely died. But with recent rain, I began to see new growth, and I hope it manages to establish itself before the first winter frost.

Uses for Aromatic Plants

In addition to enjoying the beauty, and aroma, of flowers and plants in an aromatic garden, many plants can be harvested and used in the home. Uses include (depending upon plant and species):

  • Culinary herbs

  • Medicinal herbs

  • Distillation for hydrosols

  • Distillation for essential oils

  • Tinctures for perfumery

  • Infusion into oils

  • Aromatic potpourri.

As my garden grows, I will be sharing more about these uses – and how you can learn about them – through my growing Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program!

To view photos of my aromatic garden, visit my Etsy store and follow me on Instagram!


  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry, a UK-certified aromatherapist, published author in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, a consultant, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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Linguistic of Aromatics(TM) Photos: Aromatic Flowers and Plants

Posted on: August 22nd, 2016 by
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Beautiful Blue Borage: Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved
Lone Daisy: Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Lone Daisy: Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Beautiful Blue Borage: Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved
Beautiful Blue Borage: Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved
Inside of a Sunflower in Color: Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved
Inside of a Sunflower in Color: Copyright Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

This post is dedicated to my grandmother, Eva: August 22, 1913 – February 19, 2014.

I have always been a bit of an amateur photographer but it is only this year that I have pursued this interest with passion in regard to my own aromatic garden. 2016 is the first year that I have got serious about planting an aromatherapy garden; so what better way to record my progress than with a camera!

Enter Instagram and Etsy!

Sedona Aromatherapie on Instagram

I set up my Instagram account early in the year in anticipation of some great aromatic flower and plant photos to share. As the season progressed, the discovery each morning of a new bloom or a plant’s progress was recorded and shared with my Instagram followers. Although I try to focus on aromatic flowers and plants, other successes in the vegetable and flower garden were also shared.

In 2017, I am planning on doubling the amount of seeds I planted this year – particularly those that did well – and taking my garden into phase two! Subsequent years will be followed by phases three, four, and five!

If you would like to share in this aromatic journey with me you can find me on Instagram here!

Sedona Aromatherapie on Etsy

Over the summer, I posted many photos through social media outlets and I soon decided to raise some much needed extra cash for my dog’s medical bills through Etsy. Although I had a presence on Etsy, I had not added any photos to my store, and I did not promote my Etsy store as most website traffic comes through my own web store.

I am in the early stages of adding photos of my aromatic flowers and plants to my Etsy store – and most are only available as digital downloads at this present time – but as I find the time to add more, I will be promoting, and hopefully selling, many aromatic flower and plant photos through Etsy. They will also be added to my main website when it undergoes the next major “overhaul.”

You can visit my Etsy store – and help to support my dog’s medical bills (who is now recovered from a serious few months of illness) – here!

Linguistics of AromaticsTMwith Sedona Aromatherapie

My aromatic flower and plant photos are just a small part of my Linguistics of AromaticsTM program to educate people about the aromatic flowers and plants that surround us in our daily lives. I also offer the Linguistics of AromaticsTM Home Study Program for students serious in getting to know – and use safely – aromatic flowers and plants in their daily lives. Both the Certificate in Foundation Aromatherapy (Level 1) and the Certificate in Professional Aromatherapy (Level 2) are currently active, with a level 3 course in development.

Other Linguistics of AromaticsTM literature is also being worked on behind-the-scenes.

In the meantime, enjoy my aromatic photos – and check back for further developments!

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Sedona Aromatherapie Graduate Interview: Cheryl Murphy of Follow Your Bliss Bracelets and Essential Bliss

Posted on: August 15th, 2016 by
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Follow Your Bliss Bracelets: Photos Used with Permission

Follow Your Bliss Bracelets: Photos Used with Permission

Back in June, I introduced you to Sedona Aromatherapie graduate Dawn Shipley of Blue Dawn Aromatherapy and what she had been up to since she graduated from the Sedona Aromatherapie Certificate in Professional Aromatherapy course.

In this week’s post, I’m introducing you to Sedona Aromatherapie graduate Cheryl Murphy who completed her aromatherapy certificate in March 2016. In a few short months since graduation, Cheryl not just made an impression on me with her aromatherapy studies, but is already passing her new found knowledge onto the aromatherapy world in several ways!

I also have had the pleasure of meeting Cheryl in person a couple of times throughout her studies, so that made this interview a little more personal, given that most distance learning students do not normally have that luxury.

  1. What (or who) inspired you to begin your journey into aromatherapy?

I began using essentials oils about ten years ago. At that time I was just beginning to “go green” and wanted to find more natural ways to clean my house than using harsh chemicals. A few years later I was introduced to essential oils again through one of the MLM companies. I was intrigued about all the claims for using essential oils, it all sounded “too good to be true” so I began doing my research. As a lifelong learner, I decided to take a certification course to educate myself about proper usage of essential oils. Unable to find one in my area, I searched for the most rigorous online course I could find. This is how I found my way to Sedona Aromatherapie LLC and Sharon Falsetto.

  1. You are the founder of Follow Your Bliss Bracelets which contains an element of aromatherapy. Tell us a little bit about how this works – and why you decided to put your aromatherapy knowledge into bracelets!

I began making simple gemstone bracelets for family and friends in 2011. They were so well received and I had so many requests for more that I decided to start my business, FYB Bracelets in 2012. I sell my work in retail stores, yoga studios and select festivals throughout the year. I also have an online presence on Etsy and I have my own website.

My designs are often a reflection of my personal interests (yoga, nature, meditation and spirituality). As I became more interested in aromatherapy, it seemed natural to find a way to incorporate it into my bracelets. I found the best way to do so was to add a porous lava stone to my designs. This allows the wearer to apply a single drop of an essential oil, essential oil blend, or even a favorite perfume to the bead for “aromatherapy on the go.” The scent lasts for 1-3 days, depending on the oil and then the oil can be reapplied or a new scent can be used. My customers like the fusion of fashion and function!

One of my favorite aspects of the business is creating personalized custom pieces for my customers. I love to help them find and follow their BLISS! I also conduct workshops where I teach the metaphysical and healing properties of gemstones. These workshops are quite “hands on” and the participants get to touch and feel the stones before selecting the gemstone beads that resonate most with them. Then they design their own personal bracelet. I’m currently working on getting this service available through my website.

3. You are also co-owner of Essential Bliss. Do you think that taking a course in aromatherapy has helped you better promote yourself/succeed in the aromatherapy business? If so, how/why?

My friend and fellow Sedona Aromatherapie student, Tammy Ewen, and I decided to start Essential Bliss before either of us completed our certification! We had NO idea how much we had to learn! Taking the course has had a profound impact on what we sell and how we sell it. We are currently developing a line of products for an upcoming yoga festival and our studies have enabled us to blend with confidence as well as make sure our labeling is accurate and up to standards. The extensive knowledge of the safe use of essential oils that we learned in our course has enabled us to pass that information on to our customers through our products and personal interaction with them.

4. Since completing your aromatherapy course, where has your aromatherapy journey taken you?

Since completing my course with Sedona Aromatherpie LLC, I have had an article published in the 2016 summer edition of the NAHA Journal (2016.2) and I am now signed on as a regular writer for the next few editions. I am also working my way through the Caddy Chemistry course offered through Sedona Aromatherapie and plan to continue face-to-face classes with Stillpoint Studies whenever I can.

In the future, I plan to conduct individual aromatherapy consultations though Essential Bliss as well as develop some essential oil workshops/training to be presented locally. My dream is to have a retail space where I can combine my jewelry making and aromatherapy services under one roof.

5. What advice do you have for other aspiring aromatherapy students who may be considering an aromatherapy course?

I would advise aspiring students to get as much education as possible and take the 250 hour training if they have the means. Once they get started, I would tell them that, though it may seem daunting, if they just take it one step at a time they will be one step closer to completing their certification or course. Education and knowledge are so empowering!

6. Finally, where can readers find out more about you?

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The Aromatherapy Garden by Kathi Keville

Posted on: August 8th, 2016 by
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The Aromatherapy Garden by Kathi Keville

The Aromatherapy Garden by Kathi Keville

This article originally appeared in the NAHA Journal (Summer 2016.2) and is re-published here according to the NAHA Writer Guidelines 2016 copyright statement. If you would like to become a member of NAHA and enjoy more articles like this, please visit the NAHA website.

Kathi Keville is both a herbalist and an aromatherapist, with fifteen books published in these subject areas. She operates the Green Medicine Herb School, located in California, with a garden of nearly five hundred species of medicinal plants and herbs. It is this garden that is featured in Kathi’s newest aromatherapy book: The Aromatherapy Garden. 

Review of The Aromatherapy Garden by Sharon Falsetto 

I’ve waited more than a year to review Kathi Keville’s latest aromatherapy book since finding out about its existence and it finally going to print! The subject area is one that greatly interests me, so when I finally received my review copy, it wasn’t long before I was immersed in the beautiful photographs and pages of the book. Oh to have an aromatic garden on this scale!

Whether you are a beginner to gardening and/or aromatherapy, or a more seasoned expert, Kathi’s newest book is sure to delight all of your senses! It’s a visual spread of aromatic herbs, flowers, and trees, together with a look into Kathi’s own aromatherapy garden – always a curiosity to a fellow gardener, if not somewhat tinged with envy!

You can almost smell the aroma of the various plants with every turn of a page, and almost taste the aromatic kitchen herb blends that Kathi describes. You will want to learn, and see, how to make herbal vinegars and teas she talks about; you will want to touch each vividly colored plant profiled; and, most of all, you’ll want to inhale all of the aromatic pleasures you’ll encounter.

Kathi’s book begins with a look at the tradition of scent in the garden, including the extraction of essential oils, how plants themselves use scent, the role of pollinators in the fragrant garden, and the types of scents you’ll find in an aromatherapy garden.

One thing I learned from the next part of the book was that not all aromatic gardens are the same: formal, cottage, Asian, and border gardens are some of the styles you can choose from for your own aromatherapy garden. Personally, I identify with cottage the best, given my English roots and childhood memories, but there is no reason why you couldn’t incorporate a little bit of each into a garden.

Once you’ve established a style, theme, and choice of aromatic plants for your garden, you’ll want to know how to cultivate your aromatic garden. Kathi discusses the basics: soil, mulch, water, shade, sun, temperature, transplanting, and propogating; all factors that contribute to the success of your garden.

Once your garden is established, you”ll then want to harvest your aromatic delights! From drying herbs to making oils, the book contains tips to cover obtaining the best products from your aromatherapy garden harvest.

The second part of the book, approximately two-thirds of the total 276 pages, is given over to profiles of aromatic plants. If you want to grow successful aromatic plants, you’ll need to be able to identify each plant, understand the growing conditions it needs to survive in your area, and how long it might live. A little bit of aromatic history is given with each plant profile, so you can better understand its uses. I particularly loved the inclusion of the growing zone for each plant in this section, so I could instantly know if a plant stood a chance of survival in my area.


Kathi Keville is a master of aromatic gardens and I feel honored that she has chosen to share her years of experience, in addition to her beautiful aromatherapy garden, with us in this book. The Aromatherapy Garden will inspire and delight avid gardeners and armchair gardeners alike – and take aromatherapists back to the roots of traditional aromatic plant medicine.

You can purchase a copy of The Aromatherapy Garden through the NAHA bookstore.

An Interview with Kathi Keville

NAHA’s Aromatherapy Journal recently caught up with Kathi to ask her a few questions about her book’s new release and how she established such a beautiful aromatic garden.

  1. I love that your book contains many photos of the plants in your own garden. How many years has it taken you to cultivate such a beautiful garden?

Having most of the book’s photos of my gardens allows me to share their beauty with everyone. Gardening is a labor of love! This garden took seventeen years to create, but I’ve grown a large selection of herbs and aromatic plants for decades. I originally thought that I was on a five-year plan to establish a design and have plants mature into a finished garden, but I still find myself recreating sections and expanding. It is the artist in me expressing design in a living form, which is exciting. I tried to keep the number of species and varieties down to a manageable 400, but there’s always another plant I can’t live without! I actually didn’t have the apothecary rose(Rosa officinalis) or Persian za-atar (Saturja thymbra), both important to my aromatic collection, until recently. At last count, I was up to 450 and just ordered more! I’m the same way with my library; there seems to be no end to the collections.

  1. Planning an aromatic garden of this size takes work, patience, love, and dedication – along with, no doubt, several success and “failure” stories! Do you have a particular story to share about your garden that may inspire readers?

Although my book offers suggestions on garden design for both visual and aromatic appeal, it’s honestly difficult to create a bad combination of color or scent in a garden. I used to fret that I wasn’t placing a plant in the perfect location for the best design or growing conditions. Nowadays, I don’t over think it, but follow my intuition instead. I learned in art school that too much thinking hampers creativity. If done just right, it’s easy to move even fairly large plants when they don’t work out in their original spot or a design inspiration strikes. Most important is to keep it fun and cultivate the garden with love that reflects wellbeing on everyone who steps into it. These healing gardens have many benches placed where the garden visitor can best enjoy the fragrance and view.

  1. One of my favorite parts of the book is the profiles of the aromatic plants, including useful information for gardeners such as plant zones, type of plant, and the mention (and use) of different species. Is there one particular plant that you have an affinity with more than others and, if so, why?

I don’t have a favorite. When I give garden tours, I hear myself repeating that whatever plant in front of me is my favorite! I will admit that, although I work with well over a hundred essential oils, I do frequently use the ever-versatile lavender (Lavandula spp.). I have the perfect climate to grow over a dozen versions of it. Right away, I am re-thinking that perhaps my favorite are helichrysum (Helicrysum italicum) chemotypes, and then, sambac jasmine (Jasminum officinale) comes to mind, and I soon include the entire garden on my favorites list.

  1. This book is not particularly targeted at either aromatherapists or herbalists but simply the person who has a passion for wanting to grow aromatic plants “for happiness and well-being.” In your many years of practice as an aromatherapist and herbalist, do you think that there is a growing interest in the plants themselves more recently than there has traditionally been?

This is my fourth book on herb cultivation and fifth book on aromatherapy, yet it is the first to focus on growing aromatherapy plants. Of course, you don’t have to be a gardener to be an excellent aromatherapist, but it does add another dimension. Plants also open up the exciting world of aromatherapy to many people who never considered using aromatic plants in healing. Anyone who has ever smelled a rose (Rosa spp.), enjoyed mint tea (Mentha spp.), or brought a bouquet of fragrant lilies (Lilium spp.) into their house has experienced a form of aromatherapy. In fact, the plant itself sometimes carries more of the scent’s bouquet. It also encompasses fragrant plants that are often not considered in aromatherapy because they don’t distill easily. Instead, they appear in the market as unpleasant-smelling, synthetic essential oils. I looked at both the chemistry and historic use of aromatics like lilac and carnation. An example of that is the eugenol compound that gives clove (Eugenia aromatica) its distinctive scent; it is a known relaxant. The same compound predominates in clove pink flowers (Dianthus caryophyllus) and it is why this fragrance has long been considered as calming. The Aromatherapy Garden not only delves into the relationship of scent to people’s emotions, but to other plants and beneficial and detrimental insects. It addresses how to increase the essential oil content in plants, and thus, their scent. This benefits the garden, but it also produces more potent plants to infuse into products or to distill.

  1. Not everyone has such a large space to grow an aromatic garden! If you were restricted to just a small patio or window box, which aromatic plants would you recommend for growing and why?

Choosing the best aromatic plants to cultivate depends on each individual’s intended use for them. I suggest the ones that a person uses most often. That may be to create a certain mood, for use in making aromatherapy products, a favorite essential oil, or simply a fragrance that bring back fond memories. Even though I have extensive gardens, I like having potted plants for garden accents or to bring their scent up to nose level—as discussed in the book’s garden design section. I also pot plants that are sensitive to my snowy winters, such as patchouli (Pogostemon cablin), palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii), and Brugmansia species. They spend summers in the garden, but can easily come inside or go on my southern exposure deck over winter.

About Kathi Keville:

Internationally known herbalist and aromatherapist, Kathi Keville, has conducted seminars in North America and Europe for over forty years. Her Northern California home is surrounded by gardens, where Green Medicine Herb School offers year-round programs. She managed a commercial herb garden and wholesaled aromatherapy products for fifteen years and now is a consultant to the industry. She is the director of the American Herb Association, American Herbalists Guild founding member, United Plant Savers member, and she was granted honorary membership to NAHA and American Aromatherapy Association. Kathi’s fifteen popular books have been published in seven languages. They include The Complete Guide to the Healing Art with Mindy Green and her new book, The Aromatherapy Garden. Kathi has written 150 magazine articles and consulted for National Geographic, Newsweek, and Woman’s Day. She co-hosts the “Everybody Nose” aromatherapy show on Dish Network TV (Veria Network) and hosts a radio show KVMR (89.5 FM). To learn more about Kathi, visit her website at:

About Sharon Falsetto:

Sharon Falsetto is a UK-certified clinical aromatherapist. She has been living in the United States since 2006 and is the founder of Sedona Aromatherapie LLC. Sharon offers a home study aromatherapy education program in the form of the Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program, including NAHA approved level 1 and level 2 courses. She is also an approved continuing education provider for NCBTMB. Sharon has written professionally for eight years, and has written and edited books, courses, e-books, articles, and corporate literature for both start-up and established aromatherapy businesses. She has been retained as an aromatherapy consultant by many businesses. Sharon also offers a custom aromatherapy blending service from her home studio in Sedona, Arizona, and has just recently started growing aromatic plants in her fledgling aromatherapy garden. Sharon’s aromatherapy book, Authentic Aromatherapy, was published in 2014, and is now available in paperback as a 2nd reprint. Sharon is the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal and the NAHA regional director for Arizona. You can visit Sharon’s website at: or email her at:

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Aromatic Grasses Used as an Essential Oil

Posted on: August 1st, 2016 by
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Citronella is an Aromatic Grass Used as an Essential Oil

Citronella is an Aromatic Grass Used as an Essential Oil

Aromatic grasses have traditionally been used in Indian and Chinese medicine because of their therapeutic properties; these same grasses are also used in aromatherapy as an essential oil. Here’s a quick look at lemongrass, palmarosa, and citronella, with regard to their use today as an essential oil.

Lemongrass Essential Oil

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a member of the Poaceae plant family. It is an aromatic grass that grows to a height of up to five feet. Lemongrass is fast growing and it is native to tropical regions of Asia and India, depending on the exact species of lemongrass. West Indian lemongrass and East Indian lemongrass are the two most common species of lemongrass for medicinal purposes. Lemongrass is now cultivated in parts of Africa and Brazil too.

Lemongrass was traditionally used in Indian medicine for the treatment of fevers and infectious diseases. It has powerful antiseptic and bactericidal properties. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the chopped, fresh grass. Lemongrass essential oil is used for headaches, muscle pain, indigestion, acne and fevers. In addition, lemongrass is used as an insecticide.

Palmarosa Essential Oil

Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii var. martinii) is also a member of the Poaceae botanical family. It is a herbaceous plant with fragrant, grassy leaves, long stalks, and flowering tops. Palmarosa is native to Pakistan and India, although it is also cultivated in Brazil, Africa, and Indonesia. The scent of palmarosa is not dissimilar to geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) and rose (Rosa x damascena) which makes it a frequent adulterant of the more expensive rose essential oil.

Palmarosa was also traditionally used in Indian medicine for the treatment of infectious diseases and fevers, in addition to the treatment of bacterial infections of the intestine and as an aid to digestive problems. It also has extremely powerful antiseptic and bactericidal properties. Palmarosa was formerly known as “Indian/Turkish geranium oil” which gives rise to the confusion of some of its alternative names today. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the fresh grass. It is used in aromatherapy for problems such as acne, dermatitis, skin care, stress, and intestinal infections.

Citronella Essential Oil

Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus), another member of the Poaceae plant family, is a tall, scented, perennial grass that is found growing wild in Sri Lanka. It is cultivated in other tropical countries, such as Africa, Central America and Vietnam, in addition to an extensive cultivation in Sri Lanka.

Citronella is used in Chinese medicine for the treatment of rheumatism. Other traditional medicine uses for citronella include use in the treatment of digestive problems, fever, intestinal problems and menstrual difficulties. Citronella essential oil is also extracted by steam distillation of the fresh grass. It is commonly used as an insect repellent, although it is also used in aromatherapy for colds, flu, headaches, and oily skin.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about essential oils, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie LLC Home Study Program: Linguistics of AromaticsTM.


  • Davis, Patricia, 1999, Aromatherapy: An A-Z, UK: Vermilion

  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry, a UK-certified aromatherapist, published author in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, a consultant, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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Pelargoniums and Geraniums for Aromatic Use

Posted on: July 25th, 2016 by
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Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium): Photo Copyright: Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium): Photo Copyright: Sharon Falsetto, All Rights Reserved

Geranium is one of my favorite essential oils in aromatherapy use – and also one of my favorite plants in the garden! I find that it grows well here in northern Arizona, and the rose-like scent of the leaves is always a welcome gift as you brush by it on a hot, summer day. I even manage to keep it growing throughout the winter months on my covered porch – in pots, of course.

When you use the English name, geranium, you have to be clear whether you are referring to the Pelargonium species, or the plant known as Robert geranium. They are both very different plants – with different uses. Here’s a quick look at these two plants and their aromatic uses.

Pelargonium graveolens

The common botanical name for (rose) geranium is Pelargonium graveolens; the botanical name refers to the Pelargonium genus of flowering plants which includes about 200 species of perennials, shrubs, and succulents. To create greater confusion, in aromatherapy use, there is a sometimes a distinction between geranium essential oil and rose geranium essential oil. Rose geranium essential oil can simply refer to a particular species of geranium essential oil – or it can be a distilled mix of geranium and rose essential oils.

Geranium robertianum

Robert geranium, or herb Robert, is known by the botanical name of Geranium robertianum and belongs to the Geranium genus of approximately 422 species of flowering perennial, annual, and biennial plants, also referred to by the name of cranesbill. Robert geranium has medicinal properties (albeit different to those of the aromatic essential oil extracted from Pelargonium graveolens). It is used in the practice of homeopathy.

The Origin of the Confusion Between Geraniums and Pelargoniums

Both plant genera are of the botanical family of Geraniaceae; however, when plants were originally classified by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, both plant species were classified into one genus, that of Geranium. In 1789, French botanist, Charles Louis L’Heritier de Brutelle, separated each genus into individual plant genera. Although members of the Pelargonium genus are often referred to as Pelargonium, many people still use the older common name of Geranium.

Origins of the (Rose) Geranium

The Rose Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) is native to South Africa but the genus of Pelargonium is native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East too. Rose geraniums were popular in England, firstly with the upper classes when conservatories were first introduced; rose geraniums later gained wider popularity in the 19th century as potted rose geraniums, grown on cottage windowsills. Today, you will find them in many gardens throughout the world.

Geranium Essential Oil

Geranium essential oil is distilled in many places of the world including from plants grown in Egypt and South Africa. Rose geranium also produces a hydrosol – a product which can be home distilled from the plant with the right equipment.

The essential oil of rose geranium is extracted by steam distillation of the leaves and the essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy. Both the essential oil and the hydrosol have a green, rose-like scent, which varies slightly in pronunciation depending upon where the origin plant was grown and when it was harvested.

Geranium essential oil is a versatile essential oil and can be used for skincare, stress, anxiety, menstrual and menopausal problems in women, teenage acne, and insect bites. It is a “gentle” oil and can be used safely with babies, children, and seniors, with the correct application and dilution rate.

The Characteristics of (Rose) Geranium

The original Pelargonium of South Africa had small leaves and pink flowers; today, there are many cultivations of Pelargoniums, flowering in a variety of colors including pink, red, white, and purple. The leaves of rose geranium are rose-scented, although some species of Pelargoniums have scented flowers too, such as Pelargonium gibbosum and Pelargonium triste. Pelargonium graveolens is a perennial shrub, which usually flowers in the summer months and sometimes in the Fall; many Pelargonium species are now cultivated as annuals.

The Characteristics of Robert Geranium

Robert geranium, or herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) is an annual or biennial plant growing to approximately one foot in height; it is found at elevations of up to 4,900 feet. Robert geranium grows in Europe, North America, North Africa and most of Asia; it has small, symmetrical pink flowers which bloom from May to October and it is found in habitats of forest, clearings, scrub, and walls.

Medicinal Uses of Robert Geranium

Robert geranium has the active ingredients of bitters, tannins, and essential oils. It has traditionally been used to treat toothache and nosebleeds and it is used in the practice of homeopathy to treat internal bleeding. Robert Geranium has diuretic properties too and has been used as a mouth antiseptic and gargle.

Learn More About Aromatic Plants with Sedona Aromatherapie

Learn more about the similarities and differences in plant species such as geranium with a course from the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of Aromatics Home Study Program.


  • Lawless, Julia 2001 The Aromatherapy Garden London, UK: Kyle Cathie Ltd

  • Podlech, Dieter 2001 Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain and Europe UK: Collins (Collins Nature Guides)

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry, a UK-certified aromatherapist, published author in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, a consultant, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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