How To Take Cuttings
The best time to take geranium cuttings is in late August before frost threatens, or anytime from mature plants.
- Select tips of firm, but not woody growth about 4″ long (from healthy plants only).
- Make a straight cut below a node with a sharp knife or razor blade.
- Snip off all the leaves and stipules leaving only the terminal bud and one to three leaves.
- Stick each cutting firmly into a 2 1/2″ 3″ pot filled with vermiculite, horticultural sand or a mixture of half soilless mix, half perlite, or half peat moss, half perlite. (Cuttings will root in water but roots are very brittle.)
- Water thoroughly and place in a bright but not sunny location. If cuttings appear wilted mist often or cover with plastic tent for a few days, uncovering often to avoid high humidity. Water until the surface feels dry to the touch.
- Roots should develop in 2 – 3 weeks.
- When roots fill the pot, transplant to the next larger size using potting mix to which some perlite or sand has been added for extra drainage. Charcoal and oyster shell may be added to promote strong plant development. (Two tablespoons of each to a 4″ pot.)
- Geraniums thrive in a sunny window (min. 4 hours of direct sun daily temp. 65° – 75° by day and 55°- 60° at night).
- Allow soil surface to dry slightly between thorough waterings.
- Fertilize only when actively growing – to promote plant growth use a balanced fertilizer e.g. 20-20-20. Later on use 15-15-15 or 15-30-15.
- If the plant tends to grow straight up, pinch off the top or the growing tip so that it will branch out.
- Geraniums grow well under fluorescent lights placed at 3 to 6 inches above the top of the plant for 14 to 16 hours a day. They will need more frequent watering and fertilizing.
By Glen Cox, reprinted from the February 2017 newsletter
If you have some of your pelargoniums that have grown tall and lanky or if you have plants that are your favourites, February is a good time to cut back the mother plant and to start some young plants that will be ready for spring planting in your baskets, containers or in the ground.
In picture one (1) we have a long stem with a nice cutting at the end of Susie’s Beauty. When you remove a long stem, try to cut just above a node facing to the outside. This will encourage the mother plant to thicken up.
In picture two (2), the cutting has been greatly shortened and the cut is best made with a sharp knife or safety razor blade just below a node.
Picture three (3), shows that the bottom leaves have been removed and all the stipules have been pinched off. Always check to see if there is a flower bud forming and if so remove it also. It is not necessary to use a rooting hormone unless the variety has a history of being a difficult one to root.
In picture four (4), a small pot has been filled with good moist potting soil, a hole is evident a little off centre and the cutting has been placed in the soil. Just firm the soil slightly to give the cutting support. Place it in a saucer of water for a short time to moisten the soil in the rooting area then allow extra moisture to drain out.
Picture five (5) shows the finished product complete with label.
Picture six (6) shows a finished tray ready to go under the lights in the basement, or in a well lighted area free of direct sunshine. Because the pots are small, 2 inches, keep the cutting moist but not wet. Watering from the bottom works best. If they are under lights a small fan is helpful to keep the warm air under the lights moving. If your space is limited, it is possible to start your cuttings in a three or four inch pot and place several cuttings around the perimeter of the pot. This means you can have four to six cuttings in one pot. If you have different varieties be careful with your labels! Once they show new growth, they need to be planted into individual pots.
If this seems like too much work or not enough time or you do not have some lanky plants, the solution is easy, just come to one of our meetings, purchase your rooted cuttings and support the club.
Keeping Geraniums Over The Winter
F1 seeds are the best for reliability. F2 seed is less expensive, but the colour and uniformity are diminished.
From sowing to flowering will take around 18-20 weeks depending on the sowing date and other important factors such as light, temperature, etc.
For earliest flowers, sow from mid to late December onwards to produce flowers in late April, early May. An early January sowing should produce flowers in mid-late May. An autumn sowing can also be made for over the winter.
It is essential that a steady warm soil temperature is maintained 70-75 degrees F is best. At this temperature the seedlings can emerge in 3-21 days. However, we grow seeds in lower temperature with good success. Cover them until the seedlings appear.
One important factor in successful germination of geraniums is constant moisture in the early stages. If the seed starts to germinate and the delicate young root is allowed to dry out, it will probably not survive. Once the seeds have germinated, the temperature can be reduced somewhat, but the growing on temperature will influence the date of flowering.
We water young seedlings with 1/4 strength Phostrogen and move up the strength as they grow. Once fully established, we change to Peters 20-36-20 starting at 1/2 strength.
When the seedlings are approx. 6 inches high, pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushy growth.