Rooting Pelargonium Cuttings: Growing Scented Geraniums From Cuttings

Image by Hec Tate

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Scented geraniums (Pelargoniums) are tender perennials, available in delightful scents like spice, mint, various fruits and rose. If you love scented geraniums, you can easily multiply your plants by rooting pelargonium cuttings. Read on to learn more.

Propagating Scented Geraniums

Propagating scented geraniums is surprisingly easy and requires very little expense and no fancy equipment. In fact, some gardeners have good luck by simply breaking off a stem and planting it in the same pot with the parent plant. However, if you want to be more deliberate with a higher chance of success, here are simple steps for growing scented geraniums from cuttings.

How to Root Scented Geranium Cuttings

Although these adaptable plants may take root any time after spring, late summer is the optimum time for rooting pelargonium cuttings.

Cut a stem from a healthy growing plant using a sharp, sterile knife. Make the cut just below a leaf joint. Remove all the leaves except the top two. Also, remove any buds and flowers from the stem.

Get a small pot with a drainage hole. A 3-inch pot is fine for a single cutting, while a 4- to 6-inch pot will hold four or five cuttings. Fill the pot with regular potting mix or seed starter. Avoid mixes with added fertilizer.

Water the potting mix well, then set it aside to drain until the mix is evenly moist but not soggy or dripping wet. Plant the cutting in the damp potting mix. Be sure the top leaves are above the soil. Don’t bother with rooting hormone; it isn’t necessary.

Press the potting soil lightly to remove air bubbles, but don’t compress it. Cover the pot lightly with plastic, then poke several holes in the plastic to provide air circulation. (Plastic is optional, but the greenhouse environment may speed rooting). Insert a couple of drinking straws or chopsticks to hold the plastic above the leaves.

Set the pot in indirect light. Normal room temperatures are fine. You can place the pot outdoors if temperatures aren’t too hot and sunlight isn’t intense. Water the potting mix lightly after about a week, or when it feels dry. Watering from the bottom is preferable. Remove the plastic for a few hours if you notice water drops. Too much moisture will rot the cuttings.

Remove the plastic permanently and transplant the cuttings into individual pots when new growth appears, which indicates the cuttings have rooted. This process may take several days or a few weeks.

Rooting Scented Geraniums in Water

Most gardeners find that rooting Pelargonium cuttings in potting mix is more dependable, but you may have good luck rooting scented geraniums in water. Here’s how:

Fill a jar about one-third with room temperature water. Place a scented geranium cutting in the water. Ensure the bottom one-third of the cutting is submerged.

Place the jar in a warm spot, such as a sunny window. Avoid hot, direct sunlight, which will cook the cutting.

Watch for roots to develop in about a month. Then, plant the rooted cutting in a pot filled with regular potting mix.

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