My Itchy Green Thumb or How to Take Geranium Cuttings
The warm temperatures and longer days have set my green thumb to itching and I have to do something about it. I decided over the winter that I want ivy geraniums in my flower boxes this summer. The flower boxes sit on the outside ledges of my two up-stairs windows at the front of the house. I took a look at the large hanging basket I keep on a bracket by the front door during the summer. It is filled with ivy geraniums that have beautiful double lilac blooms and single lipstick-pink flowers. It wintered over in the mud room and has started to send out new branches and leaf clusters. I could easily get the twelve cuttings I want. Past experience has taught me that about 75% of the cuttings will survive. I need ten plants to fill the window boxes. If nine of the cuttings take root, along with one I started in February, from a piece I’d broken off when cleaning the dead leaves off the hanging planter, that would give me ten plants. If more take root I will fill other pots for the garden or give them away. I need dirt and my potting soil is in the shed in a five gallon bucket, frozen solid. A trip to Menards is fruitless. They haven’t put their potting soil out on the shelf. It’s still too early in the season. I drive home, racking my brain the whole way, wondering where am I going to get some dirt. I could bring the five gallon bucket into the house and wait a few days for it to thaw. But I want to take the cuttings as soon as possible. They will only have two months to grow roots and take hold. Also, that bucket of dirt is heavy and the shed is way at the back of my yard. Then I think of the two concrete planters I use on either side of the garage door. They are in the garage and I’d left the soil in them when I put them away last fall. The soil has become bone-dry and isn’t a frozen chunk of icy dirt. There is also a stack of clean plastic pots on the shelf in the garage. I have everything I need. I place a small square of landscaping cloth in the bottom of each pot. I scoop dirt out of my planters and into the pots. The landscaping cloth allows drainage while keeping the soil in the flower pot. I keep a bag of scraps from other projects in the garage, hanging on a nail. I line up the pots of dirt on the lid of a plastic storage box I keep around for a purpose like this. The soil is light and dusty. I pour some water in each pot to moisten it. Then I go down to the basement and get a pack of single-edge razor blades. The secret to a successful cutting is a good clean cut without crushing the stem. I make a diagonal cut off each piece of the ivy geranium I intend to use as my cuttings and trim off a leaf or two, if necessary, to lengthen the stem. I gently press the soil around the base of each plant then water the pots again. The tray of cuttings is placed on a small table in my office which has south and west facing windows. It is the sunniest room in the house. I make sure to put the new plants where the sun won’t hit them directly. The sunlight is too strong and would burn the cuttings. I’ll water them once a week, more or less, depending on how quickly the soil dries out. If they are kept too wet, the tender stems will rot. By the end of May, my ivy geranium cuttings will be established plants, ready to set out in the window boxes. Their cascading vibrant blooms will last until frost when I’ll bring them back inside for the winter.