Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) are blooming perennials suitable for planting in flower beds and containers. They are best known for their colorful booms and foliage and fast growth. Some types have scented leaves that smell like roses, mint or fruit when crushed. Other types, such as the ivy-leaved geranium, have a cascading habit and large colorful blooms that are attractive in hanging baskets. Geraniums are propagated from cuttings.
Prepare the Rooting Medium
Geranium blooms produce eye-catching colors.
Prepare for propagating a geranium late in the season when the plants are actively growing, which is about six weeks before the first average frost date. The rooting medium should be a mixture of one-half perlite and one-half peat moss. The peat moss holds moisture and the perlite helps it drain. You can also use a soilless planting mix specifically designed for rooting plants that is available at most garden centers. Fill a 4-inch wide well-drained pot with the rooting medium. Slowly add water to the rooting medium until it is thoroughly soaked. Let the container drain.
Take a Cutting
Using a sharp pair of scissors, clip the top 6 inches off a healthy, actively growing segment of the geranium you wish to propagate. Make the cut just below a leaf node, which is the swollen area along the stem where leaves emerge. Immediately plunge the cut end of the cutting into a container of water so it cannot dry out.
Root the Cutting
Push a 2-inch hole into the rooting medium with your finger or a pencil. This will ensure the rooting hormone is not scraped off when the cuttings are planted in the rooting medium. Prepare a powdered rooting hormone by spreading a pile of the powder in a shallow container. Dipping the cutting directly into the container of powdered rooting hormone contaminates the rooting hormone.
Remove the cutting from the container of water and remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting with a sharp pair of scissors. Roll the cut end in the pile of rooting hormone powder until the bottom half of the cutting is covered with the powder.
Place the stem end covered with hormone powder into the hole you made in the rooting medium. Close the rooting medium around the stem and add water to settle the rooting medium around the stem. If any leaves are touching the rooting medium, trim them off with a pair of scissors. If rooting more than one stem in a container, don’t allow the leaves of the stems to touch. This prevents fungal diseases from moving from one plant to another.
Place the cuttings in a brightly lit location at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the rooting medium moist, but not wet, during the rooting process which takes three to four weeks. If you live where the humidity is very low, you can place a plastic baggie over the cutting to hold moisture. Keep in mind the extra moisture inside the baggie may cause the cuttings to mildew. If mildew appears at the base of the cutting, dispose of the cutting as well as the potting medium used for that cutting.
Care of New Plants
After the cuttings are actively growing, they must be moved to a new well-drained pot with a good potting mixture. Use new potting soil from a closed container. Old potting soil exposed to outdoor conditions may contain insect eggs or disease pathogens.
Plant the new geranium plants in the new containers and potting soil at the same level as in the rooting containers. During the winter, water just enough to keep the soil slightly damp. Geraniums do not need a lot of water when held in an indoor location, especially during the winter. Fertilize every seven days with a water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength.
Pinch back all branches by half in late winter to encourage branching. For maximum fullness, pinch back the stems again one month later by one-fourth. If planting outside in spring, acclimate the plants to the sun by placing outdoors for increasing lengths of time over a two-week period. Avoid freezing temperatures during the acclimation process. Plant outside after all danger of frost has passed.