Geranium Guide

Why Should Geranium Cuttings Have Just a Few Leaves?

When it comes to growing geraniums from cuttings there are several general guidelines to follow, and using geranium cuttings that have just a few leaves is often one of them, but why is that? Often, we do better in following instructions if there is a reasonable explanation for them and knowledge is ultimately power when it comes to successfully growing geranium plants. So what’s up with removing the bottom leaves from cuttings so that they just have a few of them? This brief guide will explain you why.

The Standard Procedure

Most botanical and horticultural guides provide precise guidelines on how to successfully gather and plant cuttings. It is common knowledge that a sharp sterile knife must be used to collect a growing tip by cutting at a joint or node. The cutting should ideally be about four to five inches long.

Afterward, the lower leaves are removed only to leave about a couple at the top. Then, the cutting is placed in soil and given tender loving care (making sure not to kill with kindness by over watering) until it forms roots and establishes.

Generally geranium cuttings are easy to grow as long as guidelines are followed. Cuttings allow you to grow a clone plant that will show the same exact characteristics of the plant from which the cutting is collected.

So What’s Up with the Leaves?

So why should one leave just a few leaves on the geranium cutting? You want to remove the lowest, older leaves leaving only a few of the smallest leaves at the top for a very good reason. This prevents the cutting from losing too much moisture from the surface of the leaves which risks it drying out too much before it has the chance to put roots, explains Tom Alexander in the book “The Best of Growing Edge.”

The tender leaves at the top will provide enough nourishment through photosynthesis which ultimately aids the formation and development of the roots. Same goes with any flowers and developing buds. You want to remove those or they will drain the reserves from the shoots and the roots may not be given a chance to form. 

References:

  • The Best of Growing Edge by Tom Alexander, New Moon Pub; 1 edition (December 10, 1999)
  • Gardeners’ Chronicle of America: Volumes 23-24