If you have gorgeous geraniums in your garden, you might want to propagate them so that you can grow more. However, is this possible?
You can grow geraniums from cuttings by putting them in compost and watering them often. This is a relatively easy process, and the benefit of it is that the cuttings will be true to the parent plant type, so you’re guaranteed to get the exact same plant that you already have.
In this article, I’ll explore these and other tips to help you grow geraniums from cuttings. Following the below guidelines will ensure you’ll be able to bring beautiful, bright geraniums into your garden without purchasing a new plant from your local nursery.
1. Trim the Cuttings Down to Below the Node
When you want to take cuttings from a healthy geranium plant, make sure you snip them off below the node. You want to keep the node intact as this is where the plant contains a concentration of hormones that will assist rooting, as Horticulture Magazine reports.
Remove the scales and lower leaves at the base of the stalks, but leave a couple of leaves at the top. You should also remove any flowers that are present on the cutting. You want to make the cut about four inches (10.16 cm) from the tip of the stem.
Avoid making your cutting longer than six inches (15.24 cm). Otherwise, it won’t be able to root properly, and if it grows, it will give you a leggy plant that doesn’t display many leaves. Make sure you use sharp pruners so that you can neatly cut through the geranium’s stem.
It’s always good to take a few cuttings if possible. This increases your chances of achieving success with your geranium cuttings and gives you the opportunity to experiment with different growing methods to see which one works.
2. Take Healthy Cuttings During Spring or Summer
You should remove cuttings from your geraniums early in the spring or late in the summer. This is because your geraniums won’t be in full bloom at this time. If you live in a region of the world where winters are warm, you could trim cuttings during the colder months of the year.
When retrieving the cuttings from the plant, avoid taking weak or brown stems. You should try to get the healthiest stems from the plant; otherwise, you’ll drastically reduce their chance of growing into a healthy plant.
Avoid stems that are:
- Filled with wilting leaves
While you should avoid taking cuttings from a diseased plant, you must also ensure that you don’t spread diseases to the geranium plant when taking a cutting. So, use clean tools. Before use, you should clean them with a 10% bleach solution and rinse them well before letting them dry properly, as Purdue University reports.
3. Don’t Add Rooting Hormone
Some plant cuttings require being dipped in rooting hormone to increase their chance of growing when you plant them. This isn’t necessarily the case for geraniums, as they already have their own natural root growth hormone that they can use.
However, if you still want to use rooting hormone powder, be sure to read the instructions carefully. Hormones are powerful. If you use them incorrectly, they can cause the death of your clippings. Different rooting hormone products have different concentrations, which is why it’s essential to learn about how much you need and which concentration is right for your specific plant.
Bear in mind that rooting hormone can sometimes cause the ends of your plant cuttings to become soft, which puts them at risk of root rot, a condition that can be fatal to your plants. Rooting hormone can also damage the delicate tissue of the geranium plant, so you have to be mindful before using it.
4. Consider Drying Out the Geranium Cuttings
Some gardeners think it’s fine to go ahead and plant the geranium cuttings as soon as they’ve been removed from the plant. However, others recommend drying out the cuttings for a few days as this prevents them from becoming susceptible to fungal infections, such as root rot.
To dry out your geranium cutting, you should leave it on a paper towel for about three or four days. This encourages a protective film or scab to cover the end of the cut stem.
At this stage, don’t be concerned if the geranium cuttings look dry or like they’re wilting. They’re supposed to and will look refreshed once they’ve been planted.
5. Plant the Geranium Stem in a Propagation Mix
A propagation mix helps your plant cuttings grow and thrive. It contains ingredients to promote soil drainage, such as perlite, peat moss, lime, and worm castings. It also ensures your cuttings can grow quickly. You can get planting mix for propagation at your garden store or online.
Once you’ve got your propagation mix, use your finger to make a hole in the container soil and insert your geranium cutting. Pat around the cutting so that there are no gaps. Make sure that enough of the cutting is covered by the soil mix so that the node where you have removed leaves is covered. You want it to be covered up to about one inch (2.54 cm).
Soilless rooting medium is an alternative to the propagation mix, and you can purchase it from your local nursery. Alternatively, you can make your own medium by mixing peat moss and sand in a 1:1 ratio. Water the rooting medium deeply before you plant the geranium cuttings in it.
6. Plant the Geranium Cuttings in a Pot With Potting Soil
When you can see that the geranium cuttings have grown some roots, which should occur a few weeks after they’ve been rooted, this is a good indication that they can be planted in a pot that’s filled with potting soil.
Avoid tugging the roots of the cutting as this can damage them. Instead, use a sharp object, such as a pencil or screwdriver, to carefully lift the cutting out of the media so that you can inspect it for roots.
Make sure you replant it immediately. If you can see leaf growth starting at the tip of the geranium cutting, this is also a good indication that it’s starting to produce roots and is ready to be put in potting soil.
The pot should be four inches (10.16 cm) deep. Its diameter shouldn’t be larger than this, as the cuttings want to be potbound before they’re planted in a larger pot.
If you’ve acquired your geranium cuttings during autumn, they’ll be in this pot during winter, then you’ll be able to plant them in their permanent pot or spot in the garden once spring comes.
Growing geraniums in planter boxes may have other size requirements. Read my complete guide on how deep your planter box should be for flowers, including geraniums: How Deep Does a Planter Box Need to Be for Flowers?
When purchasing potting soil, I’d recommend pre-mixed and ready-to-use organic potting soil. I look for potting soil with ingredients such as coco coir, worm castings, kelp, perlite, and mycorrhizae. If you don’t want to worry about chemicals, be sure that it’s OMRI-listed as organic.
7. Plant the Geranium Cutting in Water
Instead of planting the geranium cutting in soil, which isn’t always practical, you can “plant” it in water. However, this does increase the chance of root rot, so you have to ensure you change the water every few days.
Follow these steps to plant your cutting in water before it’s ready to be planted in the garden:
- Put the geranium cutting in a jar of fresh water.
- Don’t let any leaves touch the water.
- When roots are formed on the cutting, which should happen within a few weeks, the cutting is ready to be planted in the soil.
8. Place the Pots in a Sunny Spot
Once you have planted your geranium cuttings in your pot, make sure you leave them uncovered to prevent the formation of mildew. Keep the pots in a sunny spot on your home or patio so that they will receive enough light. However, full, direct sun conditions are too harsh for plant cuttings, so filtered light with a bit of shade is ideal.
Just because geranium cuttings want to be in a light, bright spot, this doesn’t mean that they thrive in high humidity levels as well. They prefer dry environments, so keep them away from areas of the home that are susceptible to high levels of humidity, such as the kitchen and bathroom.
When planting your geranium cuttings, ensure that they’re in a wind-protected area of the home or garden. Keep them away from drafts, making sure to avoid placing them near doors or windows.
9. Move Them Into the Garden in Spring
When the last threat of frost has passed, you can move your geranium cuttings into the garden. Choose an area in which to plant them that’s sheltered and filled with bright, indirect light.
Note that it’s a good idea to harden them off before they’re planted in the garden. This is when you acclimatize the cuttings to the outdoor conditions. To harden off geraniums, you should put your potted cuttings outside for a few hours per day, ideally when the temperature is at its warmest.
Then, move them back inside the home to prevent them from being exposed to harsh temperatures later in the evening. Do this for a few weeks until the geranium cuttings can stay outside for the whole day. Then, you can plant them in a permanent spot in the garden.
10. Cover the Geranium Cuttings With Plastic
If you own a greenhouse, this is the ideal place to store your geranium cuttings because it makes it easier to maintain a temperature of around 73°F (22.8°C) for your geranium cuttings to grow and thrive.
If you don’t own a greenhouse, you can try to keep the cuttings warm by putting a plastic bag over the pot in which you’ve planted your geraniums. Fasten the plastic bag around the rim of the pot. This encourages a humid, warm environment for the cuttings to root. Just be careful about fungus, which you want to avoid. Check the cuttings regularly, so they don’t become moldy.
11. Plant and Fertilize Geranium Cuttings in the Garden
When it’s spring, you should remove the cuttings from their pots so you can plant them in the garden. As previously mentioned, do this when the risk of frost has passed in your region.
Once the cuttings have been planted, wait a week before applying liquid fertilizer to them. If you don’t wait for a week before giving your cuttings fertilizer, you can prevent the growth of healthy roots.
The best fertilizer is a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer that will nourish the cuttings with nutrients so they can grow. A 20-20-20 fertilizer will work for your geraniums as these plants don’t require a product that’s specifically designed for them.
You can also dilute the fertilizer to ensure you give the cuttings a gentle feeding. To do this, mix two tablespoons of water-soluble fertilizer into one gallon (3.7l) of water. Throughout the growing process, you can apply this mixture to your geraniums once every three weeks.
12. Space the Geranium Cuttings
The good news is that geraniums can easily be transplanted outside, as they don’t struggle to survive. However, when planting the cuttings in the ground, you want to ensure you leave enough space between them so that when the geranium plants are mature, they won’t touch each other or become overcrowded.
To do this properly, consider how large your geranium plants will grow. Generally speaking, geraniums tend to reach a height of between four and 48 inches (10.16 – 122 cm) and a width of six to 36 inches (91.44 cm), depending on the variety.
For example, zonal varieties of geranium reach up to 24 inches (61 cm) in height and width. By comparison, regal geraniums grow to a height of between 72 and 96 inches (183 – 244 cm) and a width of between 60 – 72 inches (152 – 183 cm).
13. Water the Planted Cuttings Once a Week
After you’ve planted the geranium cuttings in the ground, it’s essential to water them thoroughly. You should give them enough water to soak the ground around the plant. This encourages the growth of the geranium’s roots.
Once the cuttings have been planted, you should water them about once or twice a week. Let the ground feel a bit dry between waterings so that you don’t give your geranium plant too much water. You want to water them lightly, so give them a gentle sprinkling of water instead of a strong stream.
14. Add Mulch to Your Plants
A good tip for looking after the geranium cuttings you’ve planted in your garden is to apply some mulch to them.
Mulch has various benefits for plants, such as that:
- It suppresses weed growth. Mulch prevents weeds from competing with your plants for nutrients, oxygen, and water. Moreover, if weeds do grow in the mulch, they’re much easier to pull out of the ground and eliminate.
- It decreases water evaporation. Mulch reduces how much water evaporates from the soil, so you don’t have to water your plants as frequently or heavily.
- It improves soil quality. By encouraging better air and water movement throughout the soil, mulch encourages roots to better access nutrients, water, and oxygen in the soil.
- It insulates the soil. Mulch helps soil stay cool during summer. It also prevents plants from becoming dehydrated in very hot conditions.
To add mulch to your geranium plants, apply a two-inch (5.08cm) layer around the geraniums. Avoid putting it directly on the plants, especially if the weather is excessively humid, as doing so will encourage mold growth and rot.
Growing geranium cuttings is usually a pretty straightforward process, but you have to ensure you follow some specific tips.
- Keeping your geranium cuttings in a sunny area of the home.
- Ensuring they are not exposed to high humidity.
- Planting the cuttings during spring.
- Feeding them a balanced fertilizer.