Not only are geraniums easy to maintain and grow, but they are also easy to propagate. Here are some tips to start new geranium plants from cuttings.
Geraniums are one of my most favorite flowers to add to planters and window boxes. I used to spend hundreds of dollars each year to fill the containers throughout my garden. But the great news is, I can plant new starts from the cuttings of existing geraniums plants.
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Geraniums are considered perennials in zones 10-11, but will grow annually and overwinter in the greenhouse in other zones.
Technically, you can take cuttings anytime. But with that said, it is still better to wait until the blooming cycle is at its slowest, in order to get the best results. I’ve always started my geranium cuttings in early spring, but I am going to try to start some cuttings in the fall when I bring the plants into the greenhouse to overwinter.
What you will need:
- Seed compost / Potting soil
- Sharp and clean knife or pruning clippers
- Plastic plant containers: 3″ pots or 5″ pots
- Heat mat
Make sure you are using a pair of garden pruners or a knife that is clean and very sharp. Cut the stem off the plant, just above a node, or leaf joint. This will encourage new growth on the mother plant.
Trim this new cutting to just below the node, about 3-5 inches long. Remove the lower leaves, flowering stems and scales at the base of the leaf stalks, leaving at least two leaves at the top.
Choose a Grow Container
If you are planting your starts individually, I recommend using a 3″ container. You can also use a larger 5″ container and plant several geraniums together in the same container. It is important to clean your pots with hot and soapy water, with a touch of bleach. Rinse and air dry before using.
Planting the New Starts
The wonderful thing about geraniums, is how easy they are to root. Most professional gardeners suggest NOT using hormone rooting powders, because they can cause root rot. After researching this topic online, I have read where a gardener dipped their stems in honey, or vitamin C and water solutions. Most gardeners use nothing, including me. I did an experiment last year, where I dipped half my cuttings in honey, and half with nothing. They both grew roots exactly at the same rate.
Stick the cutting into the container, filled with damp, fresh seed compost. Press the soil firmly around the start, and cover the two bottom nodes with soil. Water thoroughly, and place in a bright location, but out of direct sunlight. If you are planting several cuttings together in one container, make sure you remove any plants that start to turn brown and unhealthy. This will keep the diseased start from spreading to the others.
Provide good light, a warm setting and warmth underneath from a heating mat if you can. This will help the roots grow more quickly. There is a higher success rate when using heat. Do not put a plastic lid over the starts, as the roots are prone to rotting in high humidity. Keep the geranium cuttings moist at all times, never letting the cuttings dry out. Adding plant food to the compost will enhance flowering and foliage growth.
Harden Off Your Starts
Geraniums should root anywhere from 2-4 weeks. Resist the urge to transplant your new rooted plants out in the yard until they are hardened off. Remember that these cuttings, along with the mother plants, have been sheltered from the cold and the wind, and will need to acclimate to the outdoor conditions before being planted outside the greenhouse or warm home. Take several days to bring your new starts out in a sheltered spot for a few hours. Add more time out in the elements each day, until they are ready for the weather.
Established Geranium Plants
Pinch out the growing tips of your more established, mother plants, to grow bushier and better shaped. This will also ensure more flowers to enjoy through the summer, and will promote more growth from below.
Read more about overwintering geraniums in my blog post 4 Easy Ways to Overwinter Geraniums.
I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about growing geranium starts from cuttings. If you do decide to try this yourself, I would love to hear how you did, and if you tried anything differently. Be sure to leave a comment below! Happy gardening!
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