How to Prune and Deadhead Your Geraniums

Photo by: Marc Romanelli

Marc Romanelli

They are two of the biggest—and most crucial—parts of maintaining the vibrant, beautiful blooms you love to see in your geranium garden: pruning and deadheading. But, when is the best time to prune and deadhead? And what’s the best practice? Read on for quick tips that will offer success in the form of brilliant returning blooms. 

Deadhead for Continued Blooms

Without deadheading the blooms have a tendency to become sparse, and they will eventually stop producing flowers. This technique also prevents the plant from forming new seeds. You should deadhead whenever your geranium blooms begin to look brown or weak. 

To deadhead your geraniums, rather than simply pulling off the top flowers, you need to go a little deeper in the plant and snap the stem below its node or joint, where new growth begins. You can use a pair of shears—or simply use your hands. It is helpful to have a healthy plant that has been well-watered over time in order to make the stems easier to snap. 

Deadheading will encourage new, full blooms to grow in and replace any that look weak or less full. Work through your plant, doing this throughout its sections. You’ll begin to see fresh new blooms in just a few days. The entire process takes just a few minutes but can help your plants to last for weeks and even months longer. You can do this every couple of weeks, or if you have the time pull a few stems each day while tending to your plants. 

Shape the Plant by Pruning

After a perennial geranium has spent the season in bloom and begins to die back, you’ll want to prune it. This keeps the plant dormant for the winter and also helps it to store energy for spring. Depending on your zone, this might be anywhere from August to late October. Use a pair of reliable shears to trim back perennial geraniums to two or three inches above the soil, cutting at nodes or new growth points when possible. Remove any leaves or additional flowers that remain. You’ll end up with a fairly unattractive grouping of thick stems. But not to worry, next spring your blooms will be back in full display of their beauty. 

Note that if you have planted annual geraniums, you can go ahead and dig them up and discard them at this time. If you have geraniums in containers that you plan to overwinter indoors, now is also a good time to go ahead and bring them inside—marking everything off your geranium to-do list at once.