Geranium Cuttings - How to take
Whilst the propagation of Geraniums (Pelargoniums) is increasingly
being done by seed sowing, the traditional way of taking cuttings of
Geraniums is a good way of ensuring that you get a supply of plants which
are in all ways identical to the parent. Taking Geranium Cuttings is a cost
effective way to ensure more plants.
This is not the case with saved seed where the young seedlings are often
inferior, and not always true to type. Taking geranium cuttings
ensures that your new plant will be the same as the parent.
In this section we are talking of the plants that are commonly called
Geraniums - but are in reality Pelargoniums. This method of propagation
does not apply to the true hardy geraniums which are normally found in
herbaceous borders and other permanent year- round planting schemes.
The Zonal Pelargoniums - seen left - and the Ivy Leaf
Pelargoniums - seen below left - are the the commonly named Geraniums
that are normally sold in garden centres during the late spring and
early summer bedding plant season. As with most bedding plants, they are
not frost hardy, so can either be disposed of at the end of the summer
flowering period, or dug up and over-wintered in a cool frost free shed
There are another group of Pelargoniums - increasingly popular known
as Regal Pelargoniums. These do best as indoor plants though they are
increasingly being sold as bedding plants. This group is normally known
by its proper name - Regal Pelargoniums, rather than Regal Geraniums!
Any of these three Pelargoniums - Geraniums - can be propagated by
either softwood cuttings or
Cuttings can be taken over a long period of time - depending upon
whether you can bring them into growth in a warm greenhouse in the
spring. Otherwise, any time during the normal growing season. Being
softwood cuttings early in the season or semi-ripe cuttings later in the
season. It is also possible to take softwood cuttings of Geraniums later
in the season.
Late Summer Cuttings of Geraniums
Late Summer is the traditional time for taking cuttings from
Geraniums - either in late August or in September before the frosts and
as the old plants are being lifted either for the compost heap, or to be
potted up and bought indoors for the winter.
It is possible to obtain both semi ripe cuttings and softwood
cuttings at this time. the traditional way of taking softwood cuttings
is the better, and more likely to succeed.
A good batch of geranium cuttings in small peat pots. These ensure that
there is little root disturbance to the geranium cuttings when they are
either potted up or planted out into window boxes or garden.
The best cuttings - found on the side of the plants, are those which
have not yet flowered, or are simply showing a flower bud which can be
rubbed off. Tip cuttings are also suitable - preferably from un-flowered
The cuttings should be taken by cutting the shoot from the Geranium
near to the main stem. They can then be trimmed to a suitable size -
which is normally around 4in long - but may be smaller - depending upon
the variety of Geranium.
The geranium cutting should be prepared after removing from the
parent plant, by making a clean cut with a sharp knife, just below a
leaf joint. The lower leaves of the cutting should be removed - leaving
just a pair of full leaves at the top of the cutting. make sure that any
small flower buds are removed.
Before inserting into either individual small peat pots or deep seed
trays, the geranium cuttings can either be plunged in a container of made-up
fungicide or alternatively, drenched with fungicide one inserted into
Hormone rooting powder will help, but is not essential.
An open-textured multi-purpose compost is suitable, and better if
Vermiculite or Perlite is added making a 50/50 mix. Sharp Washed sand
will also be suitable. Don't force the cuttings into the compost, but
ease them in after a suitable hole has be made with a dibber. Then
gently firm the compost around the geranium cutting.
Geraniums can also be rooted in small propagating gel pots. I have
heard success stories of geraniums being rooted in a made-up mixture of
wallpaper paste gel!
If geranium cuttings are placed in individual small pots, they can be
stood in tray or propagator for the rooting process. A heated propagator
will ensure quicker rooting, but the cutting can simply be placed on a
light widow sill, where rooting will probably take place in 4 - 6 weeks.
If not in a covered propagator, then make sure that the cuttings are
covered - and airtight - with a light clear polythene sheet. A freezer
bag is suitable for this! Avoid direct sunlight, though dappled sunlight
will not cause problems. If in a greenhouse where the light intensity is
more, then a thin milky white light polythene sheet should be used.
As an alternative to placing into individual pots, the geranium
cuttings can be inserted into a deep seed tray - around twenty to a full
sized tray, and also covered with a polythene bag.
Inspect the cuttings regularly, and remove all yellowing leaves that
fall (It happens - especially to the bottom leaves). Keep a close watch
for the Blackleg fungus - easily recognised in that the lower part of
the stem literally turns black. If found, remove the affected cuttings
Aftercare of Rooted Geranium Cuttings.
- Once the Geranium cuttings have rooted, they can be grown on through the
winter in individual pots - or left in their rooting containers
until February and then potted up.
- Keep in a cool place but frost free and plenty of light through
the winter months. The cuttings compost should be kept quite dry
throughout the winter.
- Regular inspection for disease or greenfly that like to
over-winter on geranium Cuttings.
- No feeding, until the geraniums are bought into growth with
gently heat in the early spring. Thereafter, a weak liquid feed -
once a week - will bring the plants on quite well.
- Larger rooted cuttings can be potted on into 4-6in pots, to be
grown on to large plants ready for planting out after frosts have
finished in late spring /early summer.
See also | Taking
By David Hughes -