Not only are geraniums easy to maintain and grow, but they are also so simple to propagate. Here are some gardening tips to help you start your own geranium plants from healthy stem cuttings.
Annual geraniums are one of my favorite flowers to add to garden planters, flower containers, and window boxes.
I used to spend hundreds of dollars each year to fill flower pots throughout my garden. Growing new starts from the geranium cuttings of my existing geranium plants are such a great way to save money every spring.
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Geraniums are considered perennials in zones 10-11 but will grow annually and overwinter indoors in other hardiness 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, during the dormant period, in order to get the best results.
1. Gather Your Supplies
Get together the materials you’ll need to take cuttings from geranium plants. You will need the following:
- clean small pots or containers with drainage holes (I usually use a 3″ plastic container)
- quality potting soil
- sharp and clean knife, pruning clippers, or scalpel
- drainage tray without holes
- Heat mat (optional)
- rooting hormone (optional)
- gardening gloves (optional)
2. Choose Healthy Stems to Cut
Select geranium stems that are healthy, green, and free from disease. The stems should have at least 2 healthy leaves and be about 4-6 inches long.
3. Start Geranium Cuttings
Be sure to use a sharp knife or pair of garden pruners that are clean.
Cut the stem off of the parent plant, just below a node, or leaf joint which will encourage new growth in the mother plant. Cut at an angle to allow more surface area for moisture absorption.
Remove any lower leaves, flowering stems, and scales at the base of the leaf stalks. leaving at least 2 leaves at the top.
4. Prepare the Cutting for Planting
Use a Clean Container
If you are planting your geranium starts individually, use a small pot with drainage holes. You can also use a larger 5″ container to plant several geraniums together in the same container.
It’s important to clean your pots before planting your new plants. I use hot and soapy water, with a touch of bleach. Rinse and air dry before using.
Fill Pot With Moist Soil
After selecting a pot with drainage holes, fill it with moist quality potting soil. I personally use a seed starting compost as well because it provides the correct mixture of moisture, nutrients, and oxygen that the new cuttings need to establish roots.
Determine Whether to Use Hormone Rooting Powder
Remove the lower leaves from the new cutting. The next step is completely up to you.
The wonderful thing about geraniums is how easy they are to root.
Dipping the end of the geranium cutting into the rooting hormone is optional,
From the research I have done, many professional gardeners suggest NOT using hormone-rooting powders, because they can cause root rot. Other gardeners have dipped their stems in honey, or vitamin C and water solutions.
I did an experiment last year, where I dipped half my geranium cuttings in honey and half with nothing. Both plant starts rooted exactly at the same rate.
I chose not to use anything when planting my cutting.
5. Plant the Geranium Cuttings
After making a hole using your finger or a dibbler, insert the geranium cuttings into the pot of moist soil about an inch deep. Gently press down around the stem to secure it into place. Loosely fill the hole around the stem.
If you are planting several geranium cuttings together in one container, make sure you remove any dead leaves and plants that start to turn brown and unhealthy. This will keep the diseased start from spreading to other plants.
6. Water and Choose a Location
Water the soil until it’s moist but not saturated.
Provide good light and a warm setting while the new geranium plant starts establish roots. Place the new plant in a warm spot that gets filtered light but not direct sunlight.
Be sure to keep the geraniums in a space that doesn’t freeze. I keep my cuttings in the greenhouse at a temperature of no less than 45°F.
7. Place on Heating Mat
Although this is optional, your geranium cuttings will benefit from the warmth underneath a heating mat if you can. This will help the new roots grow more quickly and there is a higher success rate when using heat.
I personally do not put a humidity dome lid over the new geraniums as the roots are prone to rotting in high humidity.
Keep the new geranium plants moist at all times, never letting the cuttings dry out. Adding plant food to the compost will enhance flowering and foliage growth.
After several weeks you should notice new growth from the cuttings. It’s easy to check for roots. Pull on the stem to feel if the roots are holding in place.
Transplant the geranium cuttings into larger pots once they have established strong root systems for a healthy plant.
Harden Off Your Starts
Now that you’ve started your geranium cuttings and they’ve established roots, resist the urge to transplant your newly rooted plants out in the garden until they are hardened off.
You can start hardening off your young plants after any risk of frost has passed.
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 your warm home.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Starting Geraniums from Cutting
How Long Does it Take for Geraniums Cuttings to Root?
You should usually see root development in 6-8 weeks, but it can sometimes be as short as a month. The amount of time can depend on the conditions of the soil and the temperature.
Where do you Cut Geraniums to Root Them?
Take a 4-6 inch cutting from a healthy geranium stem, just below a leaf node.
Should Geranium Cuttings be Covered?
Avoid covering your geranium starts with a humidity dome. Geranium roots are prone to rotting in high humidity.
Do you Water Geranium Cuttings Over Winter?
You should keep the roots moist as the young plant will grow over the winter, but never saturated.
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!
Until next time,
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Wondering when to start fertilizing geranium cuttings and the NPP numbers. Had read somewhere that cuttings under grow lights could use a diluted mixture during the winter months.
Great post Kim! I pulled a few geraniums before the first frost this year and will try to grow more from the mother plants in the sunroom.
Jeannie simpson says
U didn’t mention if I can get roots started by just putting in a glass of water.
Thanks for your help.
I’m so sorry it took me so long to answer your question. Yes, you can absolutely root your geranium start in the water. I have never seen it, but I have seen several articles that say it works.