Scented Geraniums are one of my favorites to propagate from cuttings and grow. I love the variety of smells, particularly right after a good rain. And while summer is drawing to a close (sniff, sniff) you don’t need to day goodbye to this pelargonium (a.k.a. scented geranium), now is the time to take some cuttings and pot them up!
You can take cuttings of this woody geranium anytime from spring to late summer, but I have found that cuttings taken in August and September do especially well. And don’t worry if you are a first-timer or experienced grower, scented geraniums are easy to propagate.
And we all lose a few, so don’t be worried if you see a casualty or two, it’s not you – it is just the nature of the beast. Even the most experienced propagator will lose some cuttings.
Cuttings root best in moist (NOT wet or soggy) soil. I use a mixture of potting compost or soil and perlite. The perlite gives the mix just a bit of extra space so the cutting can spread its roots out.
Take a clean, sharp razer blade, knife or scissors and snip your cutting from the fresh, fleshy green stems. If you keep your scented geraniums around long enough you will notice they can become rather woody at the base of the plant. That is NOT where you want to take a cutting.
I like to take 2-3″ cuttings from a healthy stem. I always include at least one leaf, but if I have a node (branching) available I take it below the node.
And although it is tempting to take a cutting from a flowering stem, resist! Either find a new stem or cut the flower off first. If you take a cutting that is flowering the plant’s energy is not going into developing the roots (which it needs to), but rather to the flower, which almost always results in a cutting casualty.
Rooting hormone … ehhh.
I don’t find that it helps the rooting, but if it makes you feel better you can give it a light dusting.
Plant your cutting in a moist potting mix. You can use small 3-4″ pots, or trays if you have the zealous propagator disorder (which I have been known to to suffer from). Use your finger to create a hole, insert your cutting, then gently firm the soil around the cutting.
Place your cuttings in a warm, sunny spot. Right now I have mine on tables in my backyard, but a windowsill will do just as nicely. Then water and wait.
When it comes to watering I find it best to water from the bottom of the pot (if it has holes) or at the base of the plant. You can tell it is time to water when the top of the soil is dry. Be wary of overwatering your geraniums. Let them tell you when they need a drink.
On average it takes 3-4 weeks for the roots to develop, but will happen sooner if given the right conditions (sun, moist soil, and time). You can tell that your cutting has taken if you give a gentle tug on your cutting, and you feel it anchored in place.
Once your cutting has taken, pinch back some of the leaves (only if your cutting has enough leaves) and you will be rewarded with a bushy, happy scented geranium.
I keep my scented geranium babies in the greenhouse, but a kitchen windowsill and/or counter that gets bright light throughout the fall and winter will be all you need so they are ready for the garden (or a container planting) come spring.
If you’ve propagated enough, pot-up your extra scented geraniums in a pretty pot, and give them away to friends and family. They make wonderful holiday gifts and housewarming presents.
With their subtle flowers, lush leaves and their delicious scents, scented geraniums are a sweet garden surprise to many. For me it was love at first sight. And now I’ve been growing and propagating these ethereal little plants for many, many years.
And now you can too!
For more on growing and the organic kitchen garden, check out my new book, The Backyard Gardener!