While shopping at your local gardening center you will no doubt see plants tagged as “Geranium.” They may be, in fact, geraniums. They may also be pelargoniums and there is a difference between the two. The biggest difference is that the geranium is far more hardy. Yes, it dies back in the winter, but it returns in the spring. Pelargoniums, while evergreen, do not tolerate extreme winters. There are other differences between the two, but that is the main one.
Propagating geraniums by taking cuttings is quite simple. Remove a 4-inch piece of geranium stem, cutting directly below a leaf node. Remove the leaves from the lower three-fourths of the stem.
Dip the cut end into some rooting hormone and stick the cutting immediately into a planting pot filled with equal parts of moist peat moss and perlite. Stick the cutting into the soil to within 1/2 inch of the bottom set of leaves.
Leave the pot in an area that receives filtered sunlight. The soil temperature should remain 75 degrees Fahrenheit so you may want to use a heat mat. Don’t allow the soil to dry but don’t saturate it. Slightly moist is ideal.
In 3 weeks, give the geranium cutting a soft tug. If it doesn’t move easily in the soil it has rooted and should be transplanted into standard potting mix combined with a handful of compost. Allow the top inch of soil to dry before watering it. Fertilize the geranium two weeks after transplanting it. Use a standard houseplant fertilizer, but dilute it to half the recommended strength.
Once the weather warms in the spring you should plant the geranium outdoors. Give it 6 hours of sun per day and fertilize it, at full strength, every two weeks during spring and summer.
To make the geranium bushier, pinch off the tips of new shoots.
Photo Courtesy: Quite Adept/Flickr