Cutting back your geraniums encourages a fresh flush of growth that makes your plants fuller and healthier. Geraniums tolerate severe pruning well, though it may take the plants a week or two to resume flowering after a trim. Whether you grow geraniums in pots or garden beds, trimming the plants is a vital part of keeping them at their peak performance.
Geraniums overwintered in pots indoors often greet spring looking weak and leggy after a winter of too little light. Cutting back the growing stems once the geranium begins showing signs of new growth helps the plant regain its healthy full form. Pinch back each stem to within one-fourth inch of a bud along the stem, removing no more than one-third the plant’s height. The geranium branches at each point you pinched, which helps it grow as a fuller, more compact plant.
Whether you grow geraniums in beds or in containers, they may require cutting back in summer after they have been growing successfully for a few months. If your plants become leggy or overgrown or flowering stops, it’s likely time to cut back the geraniums. Either pinch or cut back the plants with shears, removing one-half to one-third the plant’s height. Water and fertilize after cutting back the geraniums and they will produce a new flush of growth and blooms.
If your geraniums are still full and bushy, you can cut back just the old flower stems instead of severely pruning the plant. This process, called deadheading, only removes the spent flowers, which improves the appearance and flowering ability of your geraniums. Cut back the flower head once all the buds have flowered and the flowers have begun to wilt. Trim out the old stems where they join with the main plant.
Cutting Back in Fall
Geraniums are tender perennials, so they cannot tolerate frost. You can overwinter potted geraniums indoors and move them back outside in the spring. If your geraniums are planted in beds, you can still pot them and move them indoors, but first you must cut them back. Cut back the plants by half their height before the first fall frost. Dig them up and transplant them to containers. Place the geraniums in a sunny window and water them throughout winter until it’s time to replant in spring.