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How to Prune and Deadhead Scented Geranium Plants?

Pruning and deadheading scented geraniums (pelargoniums) make for a good maintenance regimen. However, both have benefits that extend beyond aesthetical considerations.

Scented geranium plants are easy to grow and require little ongoing care. Still, you may want to consider regularly deadheading and pruning pelargoniums to improve vigor and bloom production.

Below, I’ll address the reasons why you should deadhead geraniums and how you should prune geraniums for best results.

Why Should You Deadhead Geraniums?

Deadheading is the process of removing spent blooms to ensure that your scented geraniums look tidier.

But deadheading has other benefits as well:

  • It stimulates repeat blooming
  • It can stimulate larger bloom production
  • Conserves plant’s energy
  • It makes sure your plant is better aerated, which prevents fungal leaf diseases
  • It removes potential sources of debris that can cause fungal leaf diseases if it accumulates on leaves

Therefore, deadheading is not just about making your plant look better by removing all those dried-up blooms, it also helps along repeat blooming and reduces the risks of potential leaf diseases.

Since it’s such an easy thing to do — and it doesn’t even take a lot of your time — I strongly encourage you to deadhead scented geraniums whenever necessary.

Below, I’ve even put together an easy-to-follow guide with the steps needed to correctly deadhead pelargonium plants.

Deadheading Geraniums

There are no special tools needed to deadhead geraniums. You can just snip off spent blooms with your hands or use clean scissors.

Here are x easy steps to deadhead geraniums:

– Step 1: Identify spent blooms

Spent blooms look all dried up with petals falling off. The stalk can still be green but by the time the blooms are dried, usually the stalk also follows along.

– Step 2: Follow the stalk all the way down to the base

Next, you need to follow the stalk all the way down to the base, until the first leaf junction. Even if the stalk is still a bit green or not entirely dry, it still needs to go.

The stalk will no longer produce blooms, and it’s just diverting energy away from the plant until it dries out completely.

The same applies to blooms with only a few dried petals or petals that are falling off. You can remove these too, especially if you don’t want any debris accumulating on leaves.

– Step 3: Snip or cut off dead blooms

Once you reach the base at the first leaf junction simply cut above the junction or just apply a bit of pressure and pop off the stalk with your fingertips, it should come off easily.

Repeat these steps until you rid your geranium of all the spent blooms.

Pruning Geraniums

Pruning geraniums is another beneficial thing you can do to increase vigor and stimulate a bushier growth.

Pruning can also help with blooming, because it helps the plant to divert energy into buds and blooms.

There are different approaches to pruning geraniums:

  • Pruning in early spring
  • Pruning in the fall
  • Pinching geraniums

If you allow your scented geraniums to die back for the winter and enter into dormancy, you should prune in early spring.

If you’re overwintering geraniums indoors without allowing them to go dormant, you should prune them in the fall, before moving them indoors.

Pinching geraniums is not as extensive as pruning. With pruning, you may end up cutting back one-third to one-half of its size. With pinching, you’re just snipping about ¼ or ½ inches off the stem.

Pinching is carried out usually in spring, when new stems become a few inches long. Pinching can be carried out all throughout spring to help the plant grow bushier and fuller.

When you’re pinching back, you’re forcing the stem to grow two new stems off the old one, which makes the plant grow fuller.

Pruning, on the other hand, is used to get rid of diseased, damaged, leggy or wild shoots. With pruning, you can reduce the size of an overgrown geranium.

Here are some tips to prune scented geraniums:

  • Start by removing any dried leaves or stems
  • Remove discolored or diseased stems or sections
  • Woody stems can also be cut back to a junction
  • Prune wild stems, leggy growths

You can reduce the size by ⅓ or 1/2 depending on how leggy your geranium is or how damaged it is.

When to Remove Dead Geranium Flowers?

Dead geranium flowers can be removed throughout the blooming season, whenever blooms become spent.

You can do this before noticing any new buds forming or after they’re formed, the key is to be consistent and always remove dead geranium flowers.

What Happens if You Don’t Deadhead Geraniums?

If you don’t deadhead geraniums, dried blooms will eventually fall off on their own. But waiting for that to happen isn’t such a good idea, because it delays new flower clusters from emerging.

Therefore, it’s good to get in there and pop off any spent blooms to help the plant focus its energy on nurturing these blooms instead of wasting extra energy on dying or dead blooms.

If you don’t deadhead geraniums at all, the plant will become sparse after a while, blooming less often and producing fewer blooms, until it eventually stops blooming.

Because they’re not otherwise fussy plants, it’s worth spending some time pruning, pinching or deadheading scented geraniums because the rewards are just spectacular.

Wrap Up

Now that you know the difference between deadheading, pruning and pinching scented geraniums, and understand the benefits of each, you can ensure that your plants have a vigorous growth and blooming season.

Prune scented geraniums with the goal to either winterize, revive, reduce the size or remove diseased, dead, leggy or damaged sections of the plant.

Deadhead scented geraniums to remove spent blooms, stimulate repeat blooming and higher bloom output.

Pinch back scented geraniums to have a bushier and fuller growth pattern all throughout spring.

Once you get the hand of these tasks, it will be easy for you to grow healthy, vigorous and constantly blooming pelargoniums.

Updated: March 23, 2021

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