I am trying to establish some good stock or ‘mother’ plants. These should be strong healthy plants from which I can take cuttings. I feed them up and disbud to get stems rather than flowers. The first step is to select plants you want to replicate. You want to aim for quality stock of a variety you like. I am interested to see if the children from the 2 tone plant below have similar characteristics.
How to take geranium cuttings
Take lots of cuttings from your geraniums in April – August. They should be ready to be replanted in a month.
The healthiest part of a plant is nearest the growing tip so short cuttings are best I aim for 3-5″.
Choose individual cuttings that are firm healthy and without flower buds.
For more cuttings chop your geranium mother plant back by two-thirds aiming to cut immediately above a bud. The stem tips will then form the basis of your cuttings. Select cuttings that have plenty of shoots or nodes.
Strip almost all the leaves from the stem, leaving only the top pair.
Pinch out any tips that look like they might develop into flowering shoots.
Insert the geraniums cuttings into a gritty mix of compost.
Experience says you get better growth and flower density from younger stock.
Place cuttings somewhere bright but cool and keep their compost moist at all times.
If you want to keep the mother plant thin out all the spindly wimpy stems. With geraniums some growers keep the grandmothers and great-grandmothers –.
Pinch 1/4 inch off the top of a stem and 2 new stems will grow making a bushier plant.
For a quick result plant three cuttings of the same variety into a large pot to grow into one bumper-sized plant.
Sorry this is not a new geranium nursery or supply business although I wish it was. It is just a follow up and continuation of my earlier promise to keep updating my new found enthusiasm for Pelargoniums.
Zonal geraniums from overhead.
This is a garden center photo taken 17th June 2019. The plants were in 4″ pots selling for £2.49. There was nothing to tempt me with this selection on quality, originality or value for money grounds.
From the ridiculous to the sublime I went to visit a more upmarket garden location in South London.
Geranium Update and Kew
A trip last week to Kew garden chimed well with my recent pelargonium theme with a good display of many species. In the grounds they avoided the brash colour schemes of the familiar bedding plant varieties and had the best mixture of species in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
I was impressed with the greenhouse display of 8″ pots of several specific varieties including ivy leaved types.
As an aside comment I arrived at Kew to queue in the June rain (what else). Next time I will book a ticket via the internet to gain rapid access. Due to the rain I bought a ride on the Kew train that provided a 45 minute guided tour of whole site. A worthwhile investment for the guides know-how and the ability to jump off and on during the day.
Currently there is a Dale Chihuly exhibit of luminous glass artworks set in Kew’s spectacular landscape and greenhouses.
London Mews and Georgian Terraces had some good flowering displays on substantial plants. They probably survive our winters due to shelter from the nearby buildings. As is my wont I failed to get the best ones photoed.
Yes it is well past time to look at geraniums again. Since this blog started there have been over 60 pages of tips about geraniums. The most popular have been about scented, regal and dwarf geraniums but zonals and bedding also retain much interest. (You can find these and more links by using our search button).
‘PelargoniumVancouver Centennial’ @ Kew Garden
Why then is there this new post about geraniums? Well it is a reflection of my personal taste and intentions as I relaunch my horticultural interest in the 200 or so pelargonium species that we all call geraniums. (There are a further 400+ loosely related species correctly classed as geraniums often called hardy geraniums. Are you with me so far?) I am going to call pelargoniums by the common name of geraniums to the annoyance of some in the Pelargonium and Geraniums society.
Geraniums Again From a Personal point of View
This post is intended to force me to follow up my good intentions to grow more and better geraniums.
My first early horticultural memory is of pot plants grown on windowsills by my mother 60 years ago. The colour and unique musty scent of the leaves lingers somewhere in my brain. I do not remember the pink variety but it seemed vaguely dutch and royal and it certainly ‘was a good dooer’.
Traditionally I garden by numbers and go for volume, the more the merrier (and usually the more cramped).
An aspiration here is to grow fewer, show quality plants.
Again I also want some house plants to give away as I think they make nice gifts and are easyish for the novice to cultivate and enjoy.
My record keeping has been spasmodic over the years so it needs more attention.
So may be the start of a series of pages noting how I get on or at least a way of keeping my nose to the ground.
Princess of Wales Conservatory Kew Garden June 2019
My mother very successfully grew Geraniums (pelargoniums) as indoor pot plants for many years. For the majority of gardeners the zonal geraniums are an outdoor feature of brightly coloured flowers that are often treated as annuals. Over wintering can be too much fuss and frustrating if you get it wrong. There are things you can do to optimise your success in getting a favourite plant through even a cold, soggy winter. Firstly select varieties that are worth the effort of preserving.
Pot Up Pre-winter
Unless already in pots replant your favourite geraniums in individual pots with a gritty compost.
Tidy up any nibbled leaves and poor stems cutting back a bit if necessary.
Keep the pots in a bright, cool spot such as a windowsill. Avoid a frosty reception from a cold window behind curtains.
A good plant will keep flowering for a while into winter.
Do not over water but keep on the dry side.
If you wish to save a lot of plants you can try keeping them in a frost free area such as a garage or greenhouse.
Dig up before they are frosted and knock off as much soil as you can from the roots. Trim back by a half.
Either hang the plants in a cool, dark room or place them in paper bags. They will loose their leaves but the stems should reshoot in spring if planted in good compost.
Check every few weeks to make sure the plants are not shriveling or drying out completely. Mist or soak if they do get over dry.
If you have particular geraniums you wish to preserve I recommend taking cuttings.This method takes up less space but you need to start well before the first frosts.
Start by taking 3- to 4-inch cuttings from the green part of the plant. Strip off any leaves on the bottom half of the cutting. Some gardeners recommend dipping the cutting into rooting hormone but I find it more important to ensure excellent drainage.
I would definitely use the cuttings method for Regals, Scented and special geranium plants.
This fancy Pelargonium was new to me. I bought the plant whilst on holiday at a specialist pelargonium nursery in Stokesley Yorkshire some years ago.
As you may be able to see the leaves are a maximum of half an inch wide. This earns it the sobriquet of a miniature bi-colour.
The blooms are pink speckled with red and there is plenty of bud. The flowering should continue virtually on checked through out winter growing it as a house plant. Since it takes up so little space, yet has a distinctive form, I may try to propagate from this stock plant and acquire other varieties to make a miniature collection.
The parent has been a profligate producer of off spring. Many plants have been given away as houseplants and some of my stock is planted in the border. Cuttings root easily and the miniature nature of the plant always attracts attention. I an going to group them together this year and see how they fare.
Pinch out growing tips to make the plant bush out and provide more flowers.
I have tried to grow several Pelargonium varieties this year and been pleasantly surprised at the various forms and colours I have succeeded in producing.
The Grandiflorum is an upright, shrubby perennial with soft smooth stems bearing lobed leaves and large, pinkish-white flowers with dark-purple markings. The plant above I spotted in Chelsea Physic garden this summer.
I have long had a plant that resembles ‘Don’s Helen Bainbridge’ that I got from Fir Trees nursery. It has tricoloured leaves and grows only 3″ above the pot.
After some success with this variety and liking the small habit I bought a collection of Dwarfs and they have done well in the first year. I will see how my many cuttings now perform.
I try feed main plants with high potash feed from spring and indoor flowering has generally been good.
Alice and Kerensa have been amongst my favourites with pale flowers tinged with pink.
The 3″ pots, I have used, dry out quite quickly and better watering would have produced better plants.
I didn’t realise that miniature geraniums were so varied and interesting . Without a formal description I have taken miniature to mean 4″- 7″ high with smaller than normal geranium leaves. …
I have a strong liking for Pelargoniums (which I will call Geraniums from now on). They are still producing lots of colour and variety late into October. Because we suffer strong winds and early frosts up on the Pennines of Yorkshire I am in the process of protecting the varieties I am keen to keep through winter.
How to Keep Geraniums Over Winter
Geraniums originate from South Africa and are tender in our UK climate.
Geraniums do not like damp humid conditions coupled with low light levels in winter.
Select the best varieties of Geranium plants that you wish to preserve over winter. Zonal Geraniums are going to be cheap and plentiful next year so if space is limited they may be the ones to sacrifice.
I am taking late cuttings of my chosen Regal and scented Geraniums in case the stock plant fails. I also took some earlier cuttings in August. Do not use hormone rooting powder as this tends to attract black rot.
Keep the cuttings in a light frost free spot. For small cuttings I put 3 or 5 to a pot of well drained compost.
The host plants need to be tidied up with any brown or nibbled leaves removed. I have pruned long stems to restrict the plants and provide cutting material.
Keep the plants frost free and on the dry side over winter. If they are kept in a centrally heated house they will need some water and may repay with a supply of flowers.
Strong light is not essential but they will prefer some natural light.
In spring a weak feed and more light will revive the slumbering plants. New growth can provide stock for many more cuttings.
Some Types of Geranium
Regal Geraniums once called Pelargonium domesticum, P. Cucullatum or P. grandiflorum are showy flowering plants at their best between April and June. Named varieties to look out for include Black Knight, Bridesmaid, Caribrooke, Marylyn (above)Wooton and Lord Bute.The velvety textured petals can combine to make large flowerheads and look stunning in a pot or container. The growing habit is looser than Zonal geraniums.
Ivy-leaved geraniums are trailing plants best known in hanging baskets and from the balconies of Swiss Chalets. The colour range is not as wide as that for Regals but the volume of flower over a long summer make them desirable plants.
Fancy Leaved Geraniums are sometimes called ‘show-off’ Geraniums and as you would expect have a variety of leaf colour that make them attractive in the house or as an edging plant. There are also many scented leaf geraniums with a variety of like citrus scents.
Pelargonium Endlicherianum or the Turkish Pelargonium is more hardy than other Geraniums. They produce large bright pink flowers in early summer. They have succulent roots and need very well drained, rocky soil in a protected spot in full sun. The round, greyish-green leaves and pretty flowers make them an excellent plant for the rock garden.
Dwarf and Miniature Geraniums are fascinating plants that have all the features of normal geraniums but on a smaller scale. The plant below is now flowering with pink petals on the typically geranium like inflorescence.
Regal Pelargoniums or exotic Geraniums are getting more fancy and colourful. This pink frilled flower is called Reba Regal. I grow Regal pelargoniums for in house but they can go outside after the last frost although some flowers are a bit susceptible to rain damage.
Tips on Growing Regal Pelargoniums.
Pinch out the growing tips to get a bushy plant although most varieties are branching types.
Water Regals more than standard pelargoniums and feed with potash feed as they near flowering.
Those with large blooms and ruffled petals need a sheltered spot such as in a porch where they won’t be spoilt by the wind or rain. …