Dressed to impress. How to remove faded geranium flowers correctly

Geraniums are real flowering miracles. With the right care, they will delight you with an inexhaustible supply of blooms from spring to autumn. They need plenty of sunlight, warmth, water and nutrients to produce new flowers continuously for many months. The perfect beauty regime for most geranium varieties also includes regularly removing faded flowers and wilted leaves. The experts at Pelargonium for Europe (PfE) have put together some key tips on pruning.

For the perfect appearance, optimum health and maximum flower power, regularly removing wilted or damaged flowers or leaves is important for three reasons. Firstly, the geraniums simply look better. Secondly, it prevents the development of diseases. In damp conditions, wilted flowers and leaves tend to stick together, making them a perfect breeding ground for fungal diseases. Finally, deadheading stimulates flower formation. Instead of investing its energy in the formation of seeds, the geranium puts all its strength into producing new flowers, so pruning turbocharges your plant for even more blooms.

Single flowers and umbels

Geranium flowers grow in clusters, known as umbels, which consist of a large number of individual blooms. As a rule, not all the flowers in an umbel bloom at the same time, meaning some florets in the same cluster may have already wilted, while others have not even bloomed yet. While only a few brown flowers are visible, many geranium lovers find it a shame to remove the entire umbel.

If this is the case, it’s ok to just remove the individual flowers that have faded. However, if you have a lot of geraniums, this can be quite time-consuming. So it’s perfectly fine to remove the entire cluster, but ignoring faded flowers and wilted leaves over a longer period of time is not recommended. For semi-double and double varieties, this is more important than for single-flowering geraniums.

Breaking instead of cutting

You don’t need a knife or scissors to deadhead. You can pull out individual withered flowers easily. If the florets are wilted but not yet dry, break them off individually at the base. To remove the entire umbel, trace the stem with two fingers until you find the base of the shoot, then break it off against the direction of growth.

Choose the right time

Geraniums are easier to prune when the stems are full of liquid. This is usually the case a few hours after watering or a downpour. Speaking of rain: Geraniums are hardy and low-maintenance, but stormy and rainy weather is not really their thing. Continuous rain and strong winds are especially problematic for varieties with large, semi-double and double flowers. If you can’t provide your geraniums with a protective covering, remove wet and damaged flowers and leaves as quickly as possible after a period of bad weather.

Self-cleaning geraniums

If you don’t like regularly trimming your geraniums, self-cleaning varieties are a good choice. They shed faded flowers on their own and usually produce new ones straight away. However, wilted leaves still need to be removed by hand. Self-cleaning geraniums are mainly found among trailing varieties.