You're probably making this mistake when growing geraniums from cuttings

Geranium problems are common in spring, particularly when taking cuttings to get more plants over the summer. Here's the main thing that you're likely to be getting wrong when propagating them

growing geraniums from cuttings
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Growing geraniums from cuttings is really, very easy – but sometimes people report geranium problems when repotting. 

Geraniums work beautifully as part of container gardening ideas and are surprisingly resilient. They're also not annual plants despite what many people believe and, given the right care, will thrive for many years. Take cuttings from your geraniums in spring and you'll have many more flowering plants come summer. Just avoid this common mistake when propagating them.

Also note that we are talking about South African geraniums (the correct name is actually pelargoniums) not hardy geraniums or cranesbill. 

The top mistake when growing pelargoniums from cuttings

growing geraniums from cuttings

(Image credit: Thompson & Morgan)

Are your geranium cuttings doing nothing for weeks and then dying? That's probably because you keep sticking them in water, hoping they'll take root in the same way tropical house plant cuttings do. Unfortunately, putting a pelargonium cutting in water is about the worst thing you can do, for several reasons. 

The most important reason is that these plants are particularly prone to root rot – stagnant water in a glass is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus and is likely to kill your cutting before it's even had the chance to root. These are plants that love full sun and drying out between waterings – not standing in water.

There's also the fact that water that stands for long periods of time gets low in oxygen – another big negative for a vulnerable cutting. Some people believe that by adding root growth hormone to water they'll help the geranium cutting – actually, this can accelerate disease. The cutting already contains all the root growth hormone it needs – you just need to give it the right environment to thrive in. Which is warm, nutrient-rich soil.

growing geraniums from cuttings

(Image credit: Anna Cottrell)

These are cuttings I took a couple of months ago, planted straight into soil on a warm garden wall. Of course, planting straight out is too risky if you live in a frost-prone climate, so these cuttings were planted into small pots of soil indoors first and then transplanted once they developed a root system. 

As you can see, even now some leaves have become a little pink from unseasonably cold spring weather, but as the young plants are already quite well developed, they should recover as the weather gets warmer.

growing pelargoniums from cuttings

(Image credit: Getty/Emma Innocenti)

That's it. Geraniums/pelargoniums are unfussy, strong plants that will grow well so long as you give them good soil. They're actually one of the best plants for beginners – you'll be surprised by how easy it is to grow and propagate them. 

You don't need to obsess about how you take your cuttings (I just gently snap off a shoot right above a leaf node), or about giving them special nutrients. Just make sure you keep them frost free while they're rooting, give them as much sun as possible, and don't overwater. Et voila, you'll have masses of geranium flowers this summer.

There's more advice on how to take cuttings from plants in our guide.

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.