Rose Geranium: Last Distillation of the Year

Rose geranium in vineyard. The slight
rise on the right shaded the plants, causing
frost damage.

This month we did a second distillation of rose geranium. Now we can put away the still for the winter.

It was a small distillation, as this first year growing rose geranium has been a steep learning curve. For one thing, the plant is more vulnerable to frost than lavender, so we need to protect it in winter with frost cloth. Last winter we lost a good third of the plants, especially the plants shaded by a small berm of earth that had been part of an old terracing system. The morning sun hit them a little later, not melting the frost quite as soon.

But rose geranium is also quick growing, vigorous and easy to propagate from cuttings, so replanting is easy. We learned we need to plant more, that it takes about eight or nine pounds of the plant to get one gallon of the hydrosol.  So far the amount of essential oil is so small we don’t collect it. The hydrosol goes to small cosmetic makers, being good for the skin.

Each piece of land has its own microclimate; each plant, its own terroir. That energy of a particular place on earth is part of the plant, something distillation reveals. The same species grown in different places may have different aromas and even properties. This rose geranium works hard: clay soils, frosty winters it can still survive, and hot, dry summers, all making for a powerful, aromatic plant.