Why Are Your Geraniums So Short? 6 Reasons

Geraniums are stunning plants with vibrant flowers that come back every year. However, if you’ve noticed your geraniums falling short of your expectations, you might be wondering why they aren’t getting taller. 

Here are six of the most common reasons why your geraniums are so short: 

  1. Your geraniums are a shorter variety. 
  2. Your geraniums are not receiving proper lighting. 
  3. Your geraniums may have pests or diseases. 
  4. Your geranium may need more fertilizer. 
  5. Certain geranium plants grow differently than others. 
  6. Your geraniums need more or less water. 

So, let’s look closely at why your geraniums might be short and stubby. I’ll get into the details and teach you how to solve the problem so that you can get the most out of your colorful geraniums. 

1. Your Geraniums Are A Shorter Variety

Geraniums are fantastic. This plant has a beautiful fragrance, is stunning to look at, and is an excellent addition to any garden. However, many may wonder why geraniums appear short, and luckily, there is a good reason for it. 

There are tons of geranium varieties out there, and those that are most common in gardens are easy to manage and cultivate. However, geraniums that are taller require more attention and can quickly decay. So, many plant shops and nurseries prefer to keep the sorter-stemmed varieties in stock. 

If someone planted geraniums for you or purchased them from an outside source, it may be best to research the specific cultivar to learn more about its growth pattern. Some geraniums won’t grow tall, so it’s best to understand that before settling on a particular type. 

2. Your Geraniums Are Not Receiving Proper Lighting

Having short-stemmed geranium is a well-desired benefit that many seek out. However, short stems can also be a symptom of something wrong with your plant. 

With the proper care, geraniums will grow strong, large, and relatively tall. Unless otherwise expected, this is common and normal. If this is not occurring, your geranium may, unfortunately, be lacking nutrients. 

Proper sunlight is essential for geraniums. Without it, they cannot get the nourishment to sprout new leaves and produce flowers.

Several different factors might be limiting your geraniums’ sunlight exposure. The most common causes are: 

  • Your plants are suffocating each other. Everyone desires to have densely packed, full geranium patches, but sometimes, having them too close is a problem. Your plants may not be able to receive the correct exposure to lighting if they are too crowded in your growing area. When caring for and planting your geraniums, make sure they are evenly spaced. 
  • Your plants are receiving the wrong amount of light. Even though geraniums are excellent containers and indoor plants, this flower requires several hours of full sun. If you can, make sure your plants are receiving proper exposure. 
  • Your plants are dry from the sun. If your geraniums have too much sunlight exposure or if the temperatures are incredibly high, the heat will dehydrate your plant and its soil. So, if it’s hot outside, be sure to monitor the soil moisture and keep an eye out for wilting leaves. 

3. Your Geraniums May Have Pests or Diseases

Unfortunately, pests and diseases are common in the gardening world, especially when certain environmental conditions are present.

Geraniums will attract certain diseases and even pests when they are weak or lack nutrients. When this happens, your geraniums won’t have the nutrients they need to grow, and they’ll also have to focus their remaining energy on defending themselves from pests. In cases like this, you’ll undoubtedly notice stunted growth.

As previously mentioned, geraniums usually will grow to be large unless bred to have short stems. Your geranium may stop growing or blooming if disease or pests are present.

Gardeners can often look for particular signs and test the soil to determine if pests or diseases are a concern. Here are common symptoms to watch out for in your garden: 

  • Alterations in the leaves or flowers. 
  • Missing or wilted buds.
  • Discoloration in your plant. 
  • White dots on the plant’s leaves indicate an insect infestation. 
  • A white, powdery coating over the soil’s top layer indicates a fungal infection.
  • Slow growth. 

There are also specific diseases and pests to look for in the geranium plant. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Aphids. Aphids are insects that like to eat the sap of geranium leaves, which can be problematic because the leftovers from their work can attract other bugs like ants. 
  • Whiteflies. This insect serves the same purpose as aphids. They love to feed on the sap of plants. These insects are very tiny and come around during the summertime or when the weather is warm. 
  • Alternaria Leaf Spot. This disease is a common one for geranium. It creates dark brown circular spots on your plant. 
  • Botrytis Blight. This fungal disease comes around during cold weather. Your blossoming plant may begin to turn brown and have spores. 

4. Your Geranium May Need More Fertilizer

Fertilization is excellent for all types of gardens. It can give your plants the nutrients they need to blossom successfully. However, fertilizer does contain chemicals that can negatively impact your garden if you don’t use them correctly. 

Fertilizer contains three main ingredients that help plants thrive – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A geranium does well when given the correct dosage of fertilizer, and this plant can handle a hefty amount of it during its active season.

The three main ingredients in fertilizer that gardeners should pay attention to are: 

  • Nitrogen: helps plants remain healthy and strong throughout the development process.
  • Phosphorus: helps with the process of photosynthesis.
  • Potassium: helps plants remain strong and acts as a protective barrier. 

When plants have too much or too little fertilizer, their growth may suffer. One of the most common symptoms in all types of plants is fertilizer burn. Plants may appear burnt, brown, and wilt. 

Another common symptom in geraniums is the refusal to grow, which may appear as short-stemmed geraniums. Fertilizers can suffocate the root system, stunting leaf, flower, and stem growth.

Geraniums do well with nitrogen and can benefit from a balanced slow-release fertilizer. If uncertain about applying fertilization to your garden full of geraniums, it may be best to contact a professional or expert for more information. 

If you wonder how to keep geranium leaves green, this article is for you: How to Keep Geranium Leaves Green (7 Methods)

5. Certain Geranium Plants Grow Differently Than Others

Many think that all geraniums grow similarly, and although that may be true, there are far too many varieties with various needs to offer a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Some of the conditions that will differ depending on your geranium cultivar include: 

  • The amount of sunlight. Sunlight is vital for geraniums. The location of your plant matters and exposure to proper sunlight can change the way your plant grows. 
  • The amount of water. Water is essential for all plants. Without the proper dosage, plants may suffer, and the growth process can slow. If one geranium is growing slower or different than another, it may be because of the water quality and dosage. 
  • The soil’s condition. All plants get their nutrients from the soil. Moist soil that is well-nourished can be very beneficial for geranium. If needed, a soil test can help determine the quality of your plant’s soil. 
  • The type of fertilizer. Fertilizer is not necessary but can be very helpful. It can also change the way a plant grows. Fertilizer provides enhancements that can change your geranium. It may grow bushier, taller, or appear more vibrant. 

Additionally, there are two main variations of geraniums: 

  • Zonal Geranium. Zonal Geraniums are most commonly seen outdoors or in pots, and this variation is pretty popular when choosing a plant.
  • Ivy-Leaf Geranium. Ivy-Leaf Geranium is a well-liked variation because it has long stems and is excellent for hanging from baskets. It also is seen in window boxes and other gardening props.

6. Your Geraniums Need More or Less Water

Water and sunlight are both essential for all plants. However, individuals must remember that water is a necessity for all variations of geranium. Without water, geranium may suffer. 

Over-watering is usually not an issue with this type of plant. Geranium plants can handle hefty servings of fertilizer and do well with lots of hydration. 

However, issues may arise if water is not drained correctly from the soil. If you allow the moisture to accumulate and bog down your geranium, it may experience stunted growth or root rot, weakening your plant. 

Hydration is vital for this type of plant, but the soil must have proper drainage. So, keep your geraniums in loose, aerated soil with a drainage-inducing additive like perlite or bark. If you decide to keep them in containers, ensure that the pot has drainage holes, and only water your flowers when the soil is dried. 

In addition, underwatering is just as lethal as overwatering. So, water your geraniums as soon as the soil dries out or when you notice the leaves wilting a bit. 


Geraniums make lovely additions to any indoor space or garden, and they are usually pretty easy to grow. However, sometimes this plant can appear short and stunted.

Whether it’s on purpose or not, all geraniums require the proper care. If you have short geranium, evaluate your plant, speak with an expert, and make the appropriate changes so that it may thrive.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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