Martin Fish is taking easy pelargonium cuttings
Take cuttings now to give them time to root before winter
Early September is the traditional time to take cuttings from zonal pelargoniums to produce new plants for next summer. They can be taken at other times of the year, but they root well this month and it means you haven’t spoiled the parent plants by cutting off too many shoots earlier in the season. Cuttings taken later in the season don’t root as well and are more prone to a fungal disease called ‘black leg’, which rots the base of the stem. I aim to have all my cuttings taken by the end of September at the very latest, but ideally by the middle of the month if possible. This gives the cuttings time to root before the temperatures drop too much and they’ll then overwinter without too many problems in just frost-free conditions.
All types of zonal pelargoniums can be rooted now and I particularly like some of the old fancy-leaved types such as ‘Happy Thought’, with its yellow and green variegated foliage, ‘Mrs Pollock’, which has tri-colour leaves and ‘Frank Headley’, a lovely cream and green variegated plant that produces masses of pink flowers all summer long. I like them for their bright and cheerful foliage and also because they remind me of when I first started as an apprentice gardener nearly 40 years ago!
I take my cuttings the old-fashioned way and root several around the edge of a pot. Select a healthy stem and trim it to around 7.5cm (3in) just below a leaf joint. Remove all but the top two or three leaves, depending on their size, and pinch off the ’stipules’ – the small, fleshy growths at the base of the leaf stalks. I don’t use rooting powder, so once prepared insert three or four cuttings around the edge of a clay or plastic pot using well- drained compost. Water in and root in the greenhouse out of direct sunlight, keeping the foliage dry.
P.39 Martin Fish propagates pelargoniums
Established pelargoniums provide material for cu ings at this time of the year
Prepared cu ings being inserted around the edge of a clay pot to root