Canadian Geranium
& Pelargonium Society

Project "1880"

Cutting Down and Training Pelargoniums"

The Victorians loved their geraniums and pelargoniums. There are some amazing descriptions of new varieties and much information on growing and training these plants.

There was an article published in July 1880 in the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener. This article is reproduced and can be viewed here.

Basically it calls for some drastic trimming of the plant (after taking cuttings from the growing tips), removing all the leaves, removing the plant from its pot, washing all the soil from the roots, trimming the roots, and repotting the plant in fresh fertile soil.

This treatment would be repeated over at least three years and promises to produce a plant that is "4 to 6 feet in diameter, and should produce more than a thousand trusses of flowers".

So we tried it. The plant selected was a spring cutting of "Flower of Spring". On September 14, 2008, we cut the plant down and trimmed and repotted as per the 1880 instructions. The original plan is shown on the right.

Once it was pruned and repotted, the plant's progess was documented on a monthly basis. The results are shown below.

after_pruning

September 15, 2008: After pruning, trimming and repotting.

Once new growth was noticed, it became obvious that the plant should have been cut down even more - to just above the 'V' on the main stem.

However it was decided to leave it be and see what happens.

march 23-09

March 23, 2009: After approximately six months

The plant has bushed out and is looking quite respectable. The top growth has been pinched to encourage further bushing and new growth is has appeared from the soil line.

This plant has been kept under lights in an unheated carport and has been subjected to some subzero temperatures. The red one can see in some of the leaves is a result of the temperature extremes it had been subject to.

 

flower_of_spring

September 15, 2008: This plant is from a cutting taken in the spring of 2008. It had been somewhat overlooked and had not been subjected to pinching for bushiness. The result was a lanky plant with two long stems and a small stem which was growing from the base.