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How to Propagate Geraniums From Cuttings

Dorothy is a Master Gardener, former newspaper reporter, and the author of several books. Michael is a landscape/nature photographer in NM.

The Hummingbirds Love My Geraniums

The hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers and my geraniums seemed to be the perfect way to get more of them into my backyard.

The hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers and my geraniums seemed to be the perfect way to get more of them into my backyard.

Geraniums Are So Easy to Grow!

  • If you are thinking that you don't exactly have a green thumb, you need to grow some geraniums, the absolute easiest, most beautiful flowers to grow. Even if your thumb is orange, you can propagate these great flowers from cuttings.
  • Long before Dolly the sheep was cloned, people were learning to "clone" plants, by propagating them from cuttings instead of seed. Growing a flower from a cutting guarantees that your plant will have the exact same characteristics as the "mother plant" from which the cutting was taken. And, let's face it, growing a flower from a seed is merely a crap shoot.
  • All you need to do is buy one beautiful, healthy plant. As it grows, start taking cuttings off it and putting them in potting soil. Believe me, even it you want to kill a geranium, it will fight for its life till the bitter end, so don't let the lack of a green thumb bother you.

Choose Just the Right Mother Plant

  • Picking the right mother plant is essential, so if you see a plant that has yellow leaves, someone has been watering it too much. You probably will have better luck finding a healthier plant at a nursery, rather than, say Wal-Mart, although Wal-Mart and Home Depot have been the source of many of my flowers. Look at it like you would look at purchasing a home...this might just be the one and only one you'll ever have to buy!
  • As the mother plant begins to grow, you can start dividing it and transplanting it into different pots filled with potting soil. Most likely the plant you buy will be in a gallon-size pot, but to get the most plant for your money, I would purchase some small peat pots and start each cutting in one of those. Each cutting will be very small, so as it begins to root and the roots begin to fill the pot, you can plant the whole thing into a gallon pot. As it begins to fill the gallon pot, you simply continue the "divide and conquer" process.
Geraniums are perfect for container gardening.

Geraniums are perfect for container gardening.

How to Take the Cuttings and the Correct Tools to Use

  • To take the cuttings, make sure you use a small, sharp knife that has been sterilized, cut off some new growth about 2-3 inches in length, dip the root end in some rooting hormone (Miracle Gro® FastRoot is what I use) and put it in some moist potting soil. (I like a combination of Miracle Gro® Potting Soil, Peat Moss, and Perlite). Remember that line from the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come?" Well, "if you pot a geranium, it will grow."
  • A geranium usually lives around 18-24 months, but because you are using cuttings to propagate your plants, you should never have to buy another plant for your garden. And, you'll probably end up with enough to furnish your friends' gardens. There are so many different colors and types of geraniums, if you bought one plant of each kind, this could turn into a lifelong project or a very lucrative, easy and extremely fun business! In the spring, set some geraniums in pots out in front of your house with a "for sale" sign. If you have grown them and cared for them as instructed here, you probably won't be able to keep up with the constant demand for these gorgeous potted plants with spectacular, bright blooms.
  • By the end of summer, if you only bought one plant, you should have several fully grown and beautifully blossoming plants from which to take your cuttings. I usually am able to divide one plant into about six full plants in one season, and that's an awful LOT of cuttings!

Tips to Help You Get Started Taking Cuttings the Correct Way!

Geraniums get pretty dry before they need watering again, so touch the soil. If it feels moist, you should wait a few more days before you water.

  • You don't have to take your cuttings from the woody part ... take it from the newest growth. Cutting is a breeze.
  • Do always use a rooting hormone—it gives you a slight head start on rooting.
  • Once you plant a cutting, wait a few weeks and pull on it very lightly...if it offers resistance it is probably rooting just fine and you'll begin to see lots of new growth. Geraniums like a moist, humid environment. I like to use the bottom end of a two-liter cola bottle like a mini-greenhouse to help with humidity.

Continued Care of Your Geraniums

  • Allow your plants to dry between waterings, then water thoroughly.
  • During the winter you can water much less, but if you water too little, the roots could dry out, and that's not a good thing.
  • Always deadhead the spent flowers.
  • If you desire bushy plants, pinch the stems.
  • During active growing months, fertilize every few weeks. Use a water-soluble fertilizer at half strength. DO NOT FERTILIZE IN THE WINTER.
  • I suggest you re-pot them every spring to keep them fresh looking.

Pruning Is Essential for Healthy Geraniums

If you want your geraniums to always look their best, you are going to need to do some pruning, which will prevent leggy and woody geraniums. This is especially true in geraniums that have been overwintered if that’s what you choose to do. There are actually a variety of different methods for cutting back your flowers, depending on what your goals are.

Check these out:

  • Pinching geraniums will force your plant to grow to be bushier and more compact, and you can do it on new geranium plants that you have purchased, or on geraniums that have been overwintered. Geranium pinching should begin in the spring. When a stem has gotten to be a few inches long, use a sharp pair of scissors (or your fingers) and snip or pinch about a half an inch off the end of the stem. Do the same thing on all of the stems, which will force the plant to grow two new stems from the original stem. The result will be a fuller, bushier, more beautiful plant that will be healthier, which is an added bonus. You may pinch geraniums all through the spring months if you want to. It is so easy!
  • Should you place your geraniums into dormancy for overwintering, or if the area in which you live necessitates your geraniums to die back a bit over the winter, early spring is the time to prune your plants. The first thing you need to do is remove all of the dead leaves from the plant, then trim away any stems that simply look unhealthy. (Note: A healthy geranium stem will feel firm when squeezed gently). If you prefer plants that are less leggy or woody, cut your entire plant back by about a third, paying close attention to the stems that may have already begun to get woody.
  • If you choose NOT to put your geraniums into dormancy for the winter and they are green year round (in the ground or in containers) you will need to prune them in the late part of fall or right before you bring them indoors if that’s what you plan to do. In this case, prune the geranium plant back by a bit more than a third—again focusing on stems that are leggy or woody.

It's Easier When You Can See it Being Done Correctly

Other Resources

  • Growing Geraniums
    Geraniums are usually the toughest, most enduring plants in any garden. Learn more here.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can new growth from my geraniums come from a woody stem?

Answer: I have found that new growth on a geranium will come almost from any stem on the plant. I'm not a very patient gardener, which is why I like geraniums so much. They are predictably great when it comes to planting cuttings.

© 2009 Mike and Dorothy McKenney

Comments

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on July 25, 2019:

You are probably over-watering them. They need to dry out completely before being re-watered. Clip off the yellow leaves, water less and see if that helps. Thanks for reading the article and I hope this helps.

Summer on July 24, 2019:

I have some geraniums that have very light grenn to white leaves? what causes that?

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on September 26, 2018:

I'm just going to have to be honest and say that I have never owned a cascading geranium. Are you not able to take longer cuttings? I am so sorry I am not able to be of any help to you.

Patty on September 25, 2018:

My geranium cuttings are very small from a cascading geranium... how to make them larger (2-3”) to be able to propagate? Thank you.

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on December 04, 2017:

They are my favorites and I have several of them. Good luck and thanks so much for reading and commenting.

Jenny travers on December 01, 2017:

Thanks for the video on propogating geraniums. I was going to buy some rooting hormone but will now try using honey. I love geraniums as they are pretty & not as fragile as other plants

John Beaulieu on October 08, 2017:

Very informative and nicely done... Sadly it keeps confusing novice gardeners by calling them geraniums and not the proper Pelargonium. As an enthusiast for the hardy geraniums, I am continually having to explain the difference.

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on August 27, 2017:

Good! I've got several and they've always been my favorite flower.

Bob Webster on August 27, 2017:

I'm off to get myself a geranium post haste,ta!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on May 22, 2017:

I love geraniums but have never thought about rooting cuttings. This is a great way to save on the plant budget! I've overwintered them with great success but must try the cuttings!

Tony on February 16, 2017:

Dorothy,

Not sure what you mean by trying too hard? I don't use heat. Just put them on the window sill. Now, Cape Primroses are another story. I have a lot of success with them.

Tony on February 15, 2017:

I have tried to grow Geraniums from cuttings for over 20 years, on and off. Both in water and in growing medium. I have not had a single success. They all turn black. I have read instructions from many experts. What am I doing wrong.

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on March 20, 2012:

Maybe you tried too hard. Try it without the heat, which I've never used personally and always had great luck with cuttings. Geranium cuttings are so easy that maybe you don't need to try so hard. I find them pretty hard to kill...lol.

DAVE on March 20, 2012:

Please help, Last summer used a heated propergator but lost most cuttings, but now trying again.

Sylvia Furman on February 21, 2012:

I have one geranium plant that I have overwintered now for three years. This year for the first time I will root perhaps 6 cuttings and get one more plant of a different colour from the Martha Washington that has performed so well. That will give some variety. The indoor geranium sits on a sunny shelf and has continued to bloom a little over the winter. Gotta love those geraniums.

Anna on October 22, 2011:

This is great! I was wondering if you can just put a clipping in water and it will still root?

Also, just so people know - you can bring geraniums in over the winter (in colder climates) and they will prob still bloom and then last forever. If they get too huge, cut them back and keep rooting some.

Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on June 02, 2011:

Thank you Deborah. They have always been my favorite.

DeborahFantasia from Italy on June 02, 2011:

Beautiful flowers, I absolutely LOVE geraniums !

Research Analyst on April 25, 2011:

the flowers are really gorgeous.

KIM on February 16, 2011:

Hi, I have 5 geranium plants (1 of each colour) they are climbing geranuims and I don't know how many to put in 1 pot! They are quite big pots for my patio but do I stick to 1 in each or a couple?

KIM on February 16, 2011:

Hi, I have 5 geranium plants (1 of each colour) they are climbing geranuims and I don't know how many to put in 1 pot! They are quite big pots for my patio but do I stick to 1 in each or a couple?

Frankie on May 17, 2010:

Can a geranium form roots in a clear bottle of water and then be planted in soil? I am moving from an apartment to a house and would like to take some of the geraniums growing near my apartment with me.

Pamela on May 13, 2010:

Thank You, This Is So Brilliant!!

miriam on March 28, 2010:

thanks for the straightforward instructions. all of the other ones i found online used so much gardening lingo i got confused!

jammin48 on March 25, 2010:

very helpful

Kathleen Wright on April 28, 2009:

This is Excellent. I told my Hubby how to take a cutting. he took several and all died. So i am Printing the tips page for him so he can have another go. We have 2 left and they are the most beautiful Pink.

Thanks for your web Page Advise.