What Are the Best Tips for Pruning Geraniums?

Angie Pollock
Angie Pollock
A bleach and water solution can be helpful for disinfecting pruning tools.
A bleach and water solution can be helpful for disinfecting pruning tools.

One of the most important aspects of caring for geraniums is proper pruning. There are different methods used by seasoned gardeners for pruning geraniums. One of the easier methods, recommended especially for the novice gardener, is simply snipping or pinching away any dead shoots, stems and dying blooms. Removing dead and dying blooms is also referred to as deadheading. By eliminating the dead growth, the geranium can focus its energy on producing healthy limbs and new blooms.

Although pruning geraniums during the blooming season is important, wintertime is perhaps the most important time for outdoor geraniums — it also can be the most stressful time for the plants. Geraniums typically bloom from springtime until the first frost of the year. After the first frost hits, the geranium will begin to appear lifeless, and the stems will begin to deteriorate. During the winter months is the ideal time for thoroughly pruning geraniums.

Gardeners who live in extremely cold climates might prefer other methods of caring for their geraniums over the winter. One way is by carefully digging up the plant and placing it in a container to bring indoors. The geraniums will still need pruning prior to potting in the container, and they might need pruning prior to re-planting outdoors. Before planting the geranium in the container, prune the plant back to about half of its original size. This will promote new growth for the next season.

When growing geraniums in containers over the winter is not an option, gardeners can utilize an old standby used by seasoned gardeners. Again, carefully dig the geranium up from the ground and simply hang the plant upside down in a cool, dry location. The roots of the geranium will need to be watered once a month. In early spring, prune the geranium back to about half its size and re-plant it outdoors.

Geraniums that are grown in containers all year have the same pruning needs. Any dead growth or blooms should be removed when they are noticeable. During the non-blooming season, trim away leggy stems and growth so the plant will be lush and full the next year.

Propagating geraniums can be done from the geranium’s stem cuttings. Using a 4- to 6-inch (10.2- to 15.2-cm) live cutting from the stem’s end, dip the end in rooting hormone and place it in a mixture of peat moss or perlite and sand. For the best results, use a stem with several visible nodes and remove all but two of the top leaves. Water the cutting well, and provide an indirect lighting source. Roots should emerge from the cutting, and new growth should appear in about six to eight weeks.

Like with most flowering plants, pruning geraniums helps ensure that the plant produces large, healthy blooms throughout its blooming season. Pruning also will prevent leggy stems that might become bare of leaves and blooms. Regular care and attention will provide gardeners with stunning geraniums all summer long.

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    • A bleach and water solution can be helpful for disinfecting pruning tools.
      A bleach and water solution can be helpful for disinfecting pruning tools.