Making more Pelargonium plants: How to take Pelargonium cuttings
As part of the new houseplants that I have recently taken on, one was a white Pelargonium, which needed some TLC. It came out of its pot with not much by way of roots. I’m not sure how well this will cope, or even survive, with this transplant. So, I have taken some cuttings in order to increase my chance of keeping this plant alive.
There’s a lot of confusion about the naming, or nomenclature, of Pelargoniums. They are commonly called Geraniums, partly because they do belong to the Geraniaceae family, but also because of some confusion when they were brought to the UK. Apparently, one plant writer used the incorrect term and was more famous than the chap who was doing it correctly. What’s silly is that the true Geraniums get called ‘Hardy Geraniums’.
The Geraniums I’m talking about are the Pelargoniums, which come from South Africa, and are frost-tender and have a more succulent appearance.
Taking Pelargonium Cuttings
I chose some short side-shoots from the main plant for my cuttings material. The standard advice with all succulent cutting material is to allow it to dry and slightly callus before putting it into the potting media. This way there is less chance of the cutting rotting before it has the chance to root. The other difference from standard soft wood or semi-ripe cuttings is that you don’t enclose the tops in a plastic bag to increase humidity. The extra humidity can also cause the cuttings to rot so they are instead left out and dry.
I cut below a node, strip excess leaves from the stem, and remove large leaves to reduce water loss. Then I leave them to sit on a dry bench to callus.
The first time I took pelargonium cuttings I did enclose them in a plastic bag and didn’t leave them time to callus. They took anyway, which was probably luck, but just goes to show how keen they are to take.
Aftercare of Pelargonium Cuttings
Once you’ve taken the cuttings, and they’ve had some time to dry a little at the ends, put them in a gritty potting mix. I have some new (old) terracotta pots that I find work really well for cuttings. You don’t need terracotta pots, however, as cuttings will work in most containers. Where excess moisture is particularly dangerous to cuttings, exactly like it is to Pelargonium cuttings and other succulent cuttings, the porous nature of the terracotta helps.
I water them in and then leave them in a bright, dry area of the greenhouse. It will take a couple of weeks for them to root. I wait until there are plenty of roots coming from the bottom of the pot and some sign of new growth before potting on. If space is tight you can leave them, rooted, in the pots over winter before potting on in Spring.