Monday, January 19, 2009
It's that time of year - time to start my geranium cuttings. These geraniums are also known as pelargoniums, which is the genus name for them. Geranium is the genus name of those plants we know as hardy geraniums, an example of which would be Johnson's Blue. But many people know pelargoniums as geraniums, so that's what I'll call them.
Each fall I move my large pots of geraniums indoors where they spend the winter in a big southern window. They bloom quite well there, but by late winter, early spring, they start to get leggy. When this happens, I cut them back and use the cuttings to make knew geraniums for planting all over the yard. I often plant those that I overwintered in the big pots directly in the ground and plant fresh rooted geraniums into the big pots for the summer, which will be brought back in the following fall. The geranium in the top picture is one I've been reproducing for twenty years.
Unlike most things I root, geraniums don't seem to like the additional humidity provided by a ziplock baggie, terrarium, or other enclosure, but root just fine by just sticking the cutting into the soil in the pot and placing them in a window or under lights. So, I take the geranium trimmings, cut them to about 6 inches and remove most of the leaves from the lower stem. I leave about three or four leaves on, depending on the size and spacing of the leaves. It's best to remove the flowers, but in this case I left them on until after the photo was taken, just because they were pretty.
Here I've taken a cutting of the geranium, stripped the lower leaves, dipped the stem in Rootone (although geraniums root quite well without it too) and placed it into the soil in the pot. Besides rooting hormone, Rootone has a bit of fungicide in it that may protect the cutting a bit from rot from fungus. I always use a sterile, good quality potting soil, such as Sunshine Pro Mix. Besides being sterile, it has great drainage, which will help prevent rot.
Once I've watered it in well, I place the geranium pots in either my southern window or in my plant stand which has a four tube fluorescent bulb shop light fixture in it. The cuttings will need to stay moist, but never soggy and should never be in standing water.
Here's another geranium cutting potted up. It's a better example than the one above in that it has less leaf and stem above the soil.
Sometime in late March, early April, I'll move all my geranium cuttings out to my cold frames, where they will stay until they can be safely planted out in late May.