You either love them or you hate them is what I’ve heard from many through the years. I’ve come to love them even more so, since they are so easy to propagate and can provide beautiful indoor color in the coldest of the winter months.
These bedding or container plants are actually “not” geraniums but rather pelargoniums. True geraniums are the perennial cranesbills. Pelargoniums are semi-tender plants native to South Africa. When they were first introduced, back in the 17th century, botany wasn’t an exact science. So, based on the shape of their petals, collectors categorized them as the same, “geranium”.
It wasn’t until 1786 when Thomas Jefferson shipped the plant from France to noted Philadelphia horticulturist, John Bartram, that the geranium finally grabbed the attention of gardeners in America. Almost 230 years later the name geranium has stuck.
My father and his 92 year old sister have been propagating geraniums for generations, passing them down to others to enjoy as they have. My dad, just loves creating life and watching it grow. I recently got the bug and have started cultivating the newer varieties to scatter around my yard, offering bright, bold bursts of color til frost.
Open-pollinated flowers will not be true to color by seed so the easiest method is to propagate by stem cuttings. Cuttings are taken from the ends of active growing stems, preferably ones that are not in bloom. The cutting should be minimally two to four inches and should be cut just below a node (the point where the leaf is attached to the stem). Use a sterilized and sharp knife, razor or pruning shears. It needs to be a clean cut so the sharpness is important. Remove all leaves with the exception of two or three small leaves.
I have not had tremendous success using rooting hormone with geraniums as I do with other cuttings. Set the cutting in water just above the cut and cover with water about 1/2 inch above the cut end. This time of year the sun is still quite hot, so be sure to keep your cuttings out of the direct sunlight, but close enough to feel the heat. Before you know it, tiny hairy roots appear.
I have found the best mixture is a little bit of potting mix, perlite or vermiculite. I never measure anything perfectly, however, it should be about 1/3 to 1/2 perlite or vermiculite. A two inch pot is an appropriate size for a cutting of this size and be sure that atleast one node is covered by the mix.
One thing I have learned is the importance of disinfecting your cutting element between different cultivars. Plant diseases are easily passed by the cutting tool so a quick wipe with white vinegar or bleach is recommended.
Most plants benefit from bottom heat (propagating mats) especially during the cooler months, but I’ve never had the need. Once plants are established they need to be watered every few weeks and if you miss a watering, they will not wither and die so easily. Geraniums, even during the summer, prefer to be on the drier side, making them a low maintenance plant … which is what truly attracted me to them in the first place.
Transplant your new plant when you see roots coming out of the bottom of your pot. I continue to use the same mixture to help it maintain moisture and keep the soil light, but most people use regular potting soil.
You are on your way. Have fun and delight in the beauty.
Have a friend of family member relocating, I can help them find a professional realtor with no obligation or cost. Just call me.