In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
It's time this geranium moved inside. Take cuttings now to overwinter geraniums indoors this winter.
If you've loved your geraniums this summer and don't want to lose them to the winter, now's the time to bring them indoors. Geraniums can take a few light frosts, but the weatherman says it will freeze hard any day now, so it's time.
Instead of taking in a huge plant to overwinter, I like to take cuttings from the big plants. One good-sized geranium can often give me more new baby plants than I have pots. When friends have dug up whole plants, washed them off and set them in a pot, they find that by the following Mother's Day, which is our benchmark frost-free planting day, the geraniums are so big, they push themselves off the windowsill.
How to Take Cuttings
To take cuttings, first choose a thick stem. You want the stem you plant to end up with at least five good-sized leaves on it, so make sure it has several leaves to start with. Measure the stem against your 4-inch pot for height. You want the top five leaves to stand up above the soil and the stem to reach to the bottom of the pot for stability. Snap off the flower and all the leaves below the soil line.
A Little Dusting
When you snap off the leaves, there will be a moist wound on the stem. Immediately dunk the stem into an envelope of rooting hormone and make sure it sticks to those wounds. With the help of the rooting hormone, new roots will grow from those wounds. Push a pencil into the container of moist potting soil to make a hole. That helps you put the treated stem into the soil without wiping off the rooting hormone. Then gently push the moist soil around the geranium stem and firm the soil just enough to help it stand up.
Place the cuttings in a moderately lighted location out of cold drafts for a couple of weeks. If the top of the soil feels dry, add tepid water. They don't want direct sunlight just yet. In a couple of weeks, you should see new leaves form. That's when you know your baby geraniums have rooted and all is well. Put them in a southern or western window and water them with a water-soluble all-purpose plant food. They'll be blooming by spring.
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