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How to Prune Container Geraniums

A tender perennial plant, geraniums add color to beds, borders and containers. Because they are tender, they don't survive freezing conditions well and must be brought indoors to overwinter. Whether you have geraniums already growing in containers or are potting up the outdoor plants for winter, pruning them back properly ensures profuse and healthy blooming the following spring. Pruning is also a way to revitalize geraniums at midsummer when they become leggy and appear ragged and worn.

Cut back geranium to 1/3 of their previous height after the first fall frost using sharp, clean shears. Remove and discard of all the pruned plant material from the container so it doesn't become a breeding ground for insects or disease.

Water the plant thoroughly after pruning. Place the plant in a sunny window or under grow lights until it begins actively growing again in spring.

Pinch off the tip of each stem to encourage branching and discourage legginess once the plant begins actively growing. Pinch off the top ¼ to ½ inch.

Prune away the dead blooms throughout the summer to encourage further blooming. Snip or pinch them off once they begin to fade ¼ inch beneath the flower head.

Cut back the entire plant in summer if it begins to look bad or blooming ceases. Cut it down to 1/2 to 1/3 of its previous height and remove the plant matter from the pot as before. Water well after pruning.


After summer pruning, the geranium returns to fullness and blooming in about a week to 10 days.

Place large containers on wheeled carts so they can easily be rolled to a warm area in winter.


Only pot up and prune the healthiest geraniums from your garden beds. Weak or sickly ones likely won't survive the winter in a pot.

Always disinfect your shears after pruning to prevent the spread of disease. Rinse in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, then dry completely.

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