By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Many people wonder why their geraniums get leggy, especially if they keep them year after year. Geraniums are one of the most popular bedding plants grown and while they are normally quite attractive, routine pruning may be necessary in order to keep them looking their best. This not only helps prevent overgrown geraniums, but will also reduce or fix leggy geranium plants.
Causes of Leggy Geranium Plants
Most leggy growth on geraniums is the result of irregular pruning maintenance. Geraniums are naturally leggy and woody plants in the wild, but in our homes we like them to be compact and bushy. In order to keep a geranium compact and bushy and prevent it from getting leggy, it needs to be pruned hard at least once a year. The more regularly you prune your geranium, the better able a geranium is able to keep a pleasing shape.
Spindly geraniums can also be the result of poor light conditions. In addition to pruning, allowing more space between plants and locating them in full sun can oftentimes alleviate the problem.
Excessive moisture is another cause for leggy geraniums. Geraniums should be planted in well-draining soil and should only be watered when the soil is dry to the touch. Overwatering geraniums can result in a stunted, sickly and spindly geranium plant.
Pruning Leggy Geraniums
Not sure what to do with leggy geraniums? Try pruning. Prior to bringing plants indoors (usually late fall), you should cut back about a third of your spindly geraniums. Make sure you remove any unhealthy or dead stems as well. Pruning leggy geraniums also prevents them from becoming overgrown and unsightly.
Pinching is another practice for fixing leggy plants. Normally this is done on established plants to produce bushier growth. It can be performed during active growth or just following pruning—once new growth has reached a few inches high, pinch out about ½ to 1 inch from the tips.