Make the most of your glorious geraniums

This summer has suited our geraniums.
This summer has suited our geraniums.

SOUTHSEA GREENHOUSE: Enjoying an early harvest

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What shall we do with the pelargoniums this winter? We all know them as geraniums and this year they have been superb because they simply adore the sunshine and the blooms have been wonderful.

A couple of weeks ago I suggested taking cuttings and inserting them alongside the mother plant where they root like weeds due to the soil being moist.

It’s a bit too late to use this method now because the weather is cooler, but cuttings can be taken and will root if planted in pots and kept in a frost-free greenhouse or in a warm room on a windowsill.

Cuttings about five inches long are taken from the plants, making sure the cuts are made just above a node.

Turn the cutting upside down and carefully snap off all the leaves apart from the top pair and the tip.

Finally cut across the stem about one eighth of an inch below the lowest node. This final cut must be straight across the stem.

Dip the cut end in root hormone powder – this will encourage rooting.

The compost can be any Universal potting compost or John Innes seed compost, but if you use JI remember my tip of adding 10 per cent extra potting sand and mix the two together six times.

Fill three-inch diameter pots with the compost, but allow space to add half-an-inch of sharp sand over the surface so that when the

cuttings are inserted the sand will fall into the holes.

The cuttings must be inserted firmly, three cuttings arranged evenly around the edge of each pot and the stems inserted so that half the length of the stem is firmly in the compost.

Water the compost and cover the pots of cuttings with a sheet of newspaper.

Don’t cover the pots with polythene as this will cause a fungal problem called botrytis.

At this time of year the cuttings will produce roots in about four or five weeks.

Once rooted the cuttings are planted singly into three-inch diameter pots.

Once the frosts arrive the large plants in the garden can be taken into the greenhouse, but they always look dreadful. The best idea is to remove every leaf and cut back the plant really hard.

Look carefully to find where the main stem is and then find where the side shoots are.

Cut every side branch back to a single node and dust the cuts with sulphur powder to prevent fungal rots. Pack the plants into deep boxes in any potting compost and keep it gently moist all winter.