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How to Prune a Cranesbill

Cranesbill geraniums, also referred to as hardy geraniums, got their name from the shape of their seed pod, which looks like a crane's bill. Cranesbill geraniums are hardy spreading perennials that are used to hide taller plants' bare "ankles", as a low growing edging and as a filler between shrubs and gardens. Cranesbills don't need a lot of care. Prune three times a year to keep the clumps tidy and fertilize once in the spring and your cranesbill will happily grow and spread. Cranesbills tend to sprawl so give them plenty of room as they are not shy about edging out (smothering) neighboring plants.

Prune cranesbill geraniums in early to mid-spring just as growth begins to appear.

Cut back dead and broken stems to just above the crown. If your cranesbill is spreading beyond its spot shorten side branches by several inches or cut them back to the crown.

Cut cranesbill geraniums back to 6 to 7 inches in mid summer or after flowers have started to fade. Doing this will keep them more compact and will encourage another flush of flowers in late summer.

Remove faded flowers in early to mid fall making cuts just above a strong branch or bud.

Grow Cranesbill Geraniums

Choose a planting location that receives full sun to partial shade. Cranesbill geraniums prefer fertile, moist soils in sites with good drainage. Locate your cranesbill where it has plenty of room to spread. This helps retain soil moisture as well as feeds your plant. Add a light application of slow-release fertilizer to the planting area and water the soil well. Follow the label's instructions for new plantings. Water your geraniums often enough during the first year of growth to keep the soil consistently moist. Avoid excess moisture, however, because that can quickly lead to root rot. Most cransebill varieties are drought tolerant once they become established, so water only during extended drought situations once the plant matures. Remove spent flower stalks to encourage repeat blooms. Divide large cranesbill geranium plants in the spring. Replant the new division promptly.

Tip

Divide your cranesbill geraniums every 3 to 4 years (dig up the clump, cut into several pieces and replant). This will keep the parent plant compact and give the geranium's neighbors more space.

Shearing your geraniums in mid summer will keep taller varieties from flopping onto their neighbors.

Geraniums that bloom from spring 'til fall do not need to be pruned in mid summer unless they stop producing flowers.

You can make more cranesbill geraniums by rooting the midsummer pruned cuttings.

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