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What Are the Best Tips for Taking Pelargonium Cuttings?

Cindy Quarters
Cindy Quarters

Many plants propagate best from cuttings rather than from seeds. Pelargoniums, also known as geraniums, are an example of this. They can be grown from seeds and will produce as expected, but they are often much simpler to grow, or clone, from cuttings. This helps to ensure that the new plants will have the exact same characteristics as the original. It is also quicker and often easier to use pelargonium cuttings by following a few simple tips.

The best place to obtain pelargonium cuttings is from the stem of the plant. If only leaves are cut, the cuttings will never be able to develop into a new plant. Most likely the leaves will die fairly soon after the cuttings are taken, no matter how they are handled. A cutting that includes a significant portion of a main stem, about 4 inches (10 cm) is likely to have the best chance to fully develop.

Pelargonium sidoides leaves.
Pelargonium sidoides leaves.

If the cutting must be stored briefly or transported before potting, it is best to place it in a plastic bag. It must be kept out of the heat and away from direct sunlight. Pelargonium cuttings treated in this way will usually last for several hours. A quick, gentle spray of water before planting can help to revive any that seem droopy. This is a good method for getting plants from a friend or relative, even if it is some distance from home.

All lower leaves must be removed from the cutting, so that they don’t rot after planting. The bottom should be trimmed from pelargonium cuttings, so that the fresh cut is just below a nodule. It is best if this nodule is immediately below the leaves that have been left on the stem. Very sharp scissors or pruning shears are best for making the cut.

Rooting hormones, either powder or liquid, can help the pelargonium cuttings get off to a good start. The very bottom section of the stem should be dipped into the hormone according to the package directions. This gives the plant a boost in developing new roots and can speed up the rooting process, which helps to minimize chances of stem rot.

The cuttings should be carefully planted in sterile rooting medium for best results. It is important to keep them damp, but not soaked, to aid in the development of roots. Pelargonium cuttings should not become chilled, nor should they be exposed to direct sunlight. They should get plenty of indirect light, to give them a chance to fully develop.

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    • Pelargonium sidoides leaves.
      Pelargonium sidoides leaves.