How To Prune Geraniums: Tips On How To Trim and Cut Back Geraniums The Right Way

Prune Geraniums


Geraniums are one of the most prized flowering plants that gardeners absolutely love. Geraniums are hardy and easy to grow, they beautify your garden with vibrant blooms, and they fill the summer air with a lovely soft scent.
But did you know that this versatile flowering plant is not a true geranium? The commonly found geraniums belong to the Pelargonium genus that is grown as an annual in most parts of the US. These cultivated geraniums are herbaceous to woody in structure and feature thick fleshy leaves. They bear flowers in clusters and come in a variety of colors such as white, deep red, violet, and pink.


Since these plants are quite hardy, they can even survive as perennials in the warmer southern zones. Plus, if you plan to over-winterize them, they require minimal care and can be grown as an indoor plant all year round. However, just like any other plant in your garden, they do require regular upkeep. Since pruning is crucial to keep plants healthy and blooming, gardeners often search “how to prune geraniums?” or “How to trim geraniums the right way?”


If you also wish to adorn your garden with this stunner and enjoy its bloom year after year, hop on the bandwagon to learn how to prune geraniums with our pro tips.


Table of Content


What Is Pruning?

Pruning is defined as the act of cutting out any dead or overgrown branches and stems to keep your plant healthy and blooming. To learn how to trim geraniums like a seasoned gardener, you will require the following tools.


  • A clean pair of gardening scissors or shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Knowledge of how to prune geraniums


While you take care of the above two requirements, we will cover the third in this section. Continue reading to learn how to cut back geraniums in your garden.


How to Prune Geraniums: Step-By-Step Guide

Let’s begin!


Step 1: Examine your geranium

  • Before you ask us, “how do you trim geraniums?” we want you to take a good look at your plant from different directions.
  • Identify the problem areas such as sections with scanty growth, dead stems, or lopsided growths. Don’t worry about the temporary gaps in the plant, as pruning will stimulate quicker growth in that area.
  • Also, determine what shape you want to give to the plant before you begin cutting it back.
  • In case a major chunk of your geranium plant has browned or is dying, you may have to prune the area aggressively.
  • Don’t worry about harming the plant if you are unsure of how to cut back geraniums; as long as the central stalk stays intact and green, your geranium will bounce back. However, be patient as it can take a few weeks before you spot new growth.


Step 2: Deadhead the geranium

In addition to learning how to prune geraniums, you must also practice deadheading. For those who don’t know, deadheading is a form of pruning that involves removing the spent flowers from ornamental plants.


Since geraniums are widely grown for their vibrant blossoms, this method encourages the plant to direct its energy towards producing more vibrant and long-lasting blooms. Unlike trimming, deadheading does not need any special tool, nor are you bound by any particular season, so you can pick on the spent flowers anytime you notice them.

  • Use your thumb and forefinger to hold the flower from its base at the point where it attaches to the stem.
  • Pinch the stem with your thumbnail and sever the dead flower.
  • Since geraniums usually flower in clusters, wait for the last bloom to languish. Use your shears to chop off the whole cluster at a point further down the stalk and close to the leaves.


Step 3: Trim off the dead foliage

While searching “how to cut back geraniums?” removing the dead leaf and stem is probably the first thing that you will learn. Pruning the dead parts prevents the plant from wasting energy on keeping such leaves and stems alive. This will make way for newer and stronger foliage.


Cutting back the dead foliage is especially important in the growing season, that is, spring and summer; however, you can prune the dead growths anytime you want.

  • Use a pair of clean and sharp scissors to cut back the dead and shriveling stems. Make the cuts close to the base of the plant.
  • If you wish to learn how to trim geraniums for propagation, don’t use the stems that are almost on the verge of dying. Even if they look greener now, they will die eventually.


Step 4: Cut back leggy stalks

Learning how to cut back geraniums also requires you to trim back any leggy stalk. The leggy stalks are the stems that have grown too long, giving your plant a sparse appearance. Such stalks should be chopped off very close to the base of the plant. Doing so will allow your geranium to grow as a mound looking fuller and bushier.

  • When learning how to trim geraniums, choose the lowest node on the stem.
  • Use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the stem ¼ inch above the node. You can keep this cutting for propagating your geranium.
  • Follow the same process to cut back 1/3 of your plant at the end of the growing season. This method will prepare your geranium for the dormant winter season.


Step 5: Prune the healthy flowering stems

Beginners learning how to prune geraniums may find it counterintuitive to cut back healthy flowering stems during the spring season. However, doing so will activate the dormant buds, encourage the plant to bear more flowers, and develop healthier offshoots.

  • To learn how to pinch back geraniums, identify the point where the flowering stalk meets the main stem.
  • Use your shears to snip off the branch close to the base where it joins the main stem.
  • Careful gardeners also search for “how do you prune geraniums without altering the shape?” Well, you can snip off any stem ¼ inch above a node. If you are unsure about a node, look for a ring-like bulge around the stem. New growths usually spring up from these points.


Benefits of Pruning Geraniums

Before you learn how to prune geraniums, you must know why you need to prune your plant. Plants need trimming from time to time to encourage new and healthy growth. Since geraniums can grow quite vigorously during the spring and summer, pruning them during their growth season keeps their outgrowths in check.


Trimming them also ensures more long-lasting bloom. In fact, learning how to trim geraniums can sometimes give you a second bloom in the same season.


Geraniums tend to become tall or leggy, so trimming the long stem makes room for new growth and keeps the foliage denser. Cutting out the dead and overgrown stems also keep diseases and pests in check. Plus, if they are a part of your landscape, giving them a proper shape improves the overall aesthetics of your garden.


Many users who want to learn how to cut back geraniums often ask why you should prune them before winters. Since geraniums go dormant in winters, it is essential to cut them back to keep them healthy during the cold months. Pruning them in late summer or mid-fall will keep their energy conserved during the winter season and allow them to come back to life when the spring hits.


Now that you know how much your geraniums can benefit from a healthy shear, it is time to learn step-by-step how to trim geraniums the right way.


When Is The Right Time to Prune Geraniums?

Apart from learning how to trim geraniums, you must also be aware of the right time to prune your plant. Therefore, you might notice gardeners searching “how do you trim geraniums in the spring or winters?” since different seasons have different pruning requirements.


To answer this question, the best time to prune geraniums is before the winters and early spring. Doing both is equally important to keep this plant healthy for the current as well as next season.


Pruning for Winters

If you have landed here searching “how do you prune geraniums for the next season?” you will have to prepare them for their dormant state. Learn how to pinch back geraniums by one-third of their volume, focusing more on the woody and leggy stems. Doing so will help your plant to retain its energy during the sluggish colder months.


The right time to prune your geranium plant for winters is during late summer or early fall. If you live in a warm or temperate climate, you can allow your plant to overwinter outside. If you reside in colder zones where the ground freezes, you may want to dig out your geranium and transplant it in a pot indoors for the entire winter.


Pruning in Spring

If you have over-wintered your plants outdoors and want to learn how to cut back geraniums in spring, the best time to prune them is when the weather begins to warm up, i.e., late March or early May. On the other hand, if you have kept them inside, you should ideally wait for the ground to thaw. Pruning the geraniums at the onset of spring will remove leggy winter growth and ensure a fuller and greener plant.


Care Tips

While learning how to pinch back geraniums, keep the following tips and precautions in mind to ensure that your plants stay healthy and hearty.

  • Prune the geraniums as soon as you bring them home while they are still in the nursery pot. Doing so will give them a good head start to develop as round and bushy shrub.
  • Several users search “how do you trim geraniums at an angle?” To answer that, always cut the stems at an angle of 45° to prevent them from water damage and other diseases.
  • Geraniums are available in two varieties – ‘True’ and ‘Common.’ True geraniums are perennials and should be pruned regularly. The common ones only last a season and can therefore do away with pruning.
  • Besides learning how to trim back geraniums, you must also look out for weeds or any unwanted plants growing in the same pot or around your geraniums in the garden.
  • The majority of geranium varieties are resistant to common insects and pests. However, they can get affected by fungus in colder months. Using a generic fungicide can keep them protected.
  • Since pruning can dehydrate the plant from the wounds; once you’re done with pruning, water the plant thoroughly and apply mulch to keep the soil protected.
  • While learning how to trim back geraniums, also check your plant for any fungal infection and remove insects if you spot any.
  • You can also use your fingers to pinch off the soft stems. But stick to the pruners or scissors for dead or damaged stems.
  • Geranium is very accommodating to aggressive pruning, so don’t hold back from giving it a good trim.
  • Many gardeners also search “how do you prune geraniums that are unhealthy?” the answer to which is simple – only prune and prepare the healthy geranium plants for the winters. Any sick-looking plant probably won’t survive the cold.
  • Disinfect your tools after pruning. You can rinse them in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Allow them to dry completely before storing them away.
  • When pruning, do not remove more than 1/3 of the foliage as it might damage the plant.


How To Pinch Back Geraniums: FAQs

How do you prune geraniums that have turned leggy?

If your geranium has developed woody and leggy stems, cut back these stems up to a node. Make sure that you do not prune more than one-third of the plant while doing so.


How do you prune geraniums to revive them?

To revive a geranium, you might have to prune it aggressively. Cut back ½ or ¾ of the plant and remove any overgrown stem. This severe pruning will force the plant to grow out in vengeance. Improving the growing conditions, such as providing sunlight to the wintered plant or keeping a scorched plant in the shade, can promote new growth. Watering the plant weekly and spraying a balanced geranium fertilizer once every month will also promote healthy growth.


Why are my geranium leaves turning yellow?

The most likely reason for the leaves turning yellow is overwatering. Some leaves may also develop pale water spots. Allow the soil to dry out before you water them again.


Do you deadhead geraniums?

Deadheading the geraniums will prevent seed production, which will help extend its blooming season. Keep the plant well-watered to supply it the energy to produce more flowers.


Do geraniums like to be root bound?

Geraniums bloom better when they are slightly root-bound and should be repotted only when extremely necessary. If you plan to keep them indoors, they can do well in small containers.



With that, we conclude our guide on “how to trim geraniums?” Geraniums make for brilliant indoor plants in small pots or hanging planters. They can thrive indoors near a bright and sunny window and can continue to stay green throughout the year. You can also go for their ivy-leafed or hanging basket cultivars to add more variety to your geranium collection.


When Geraniums are planted outdoors, they will continue to delight you with their vibrant blooms from May to June. These plants are one of the easiest blooming plants to maintain. Learning how to prune geraniums the right way will help you keep them healthy and enjoy their company for years to come.