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Hardly a shrub is more widespread in our gardens than the cranesbill (botanical: geranium). The perennials belong like balcony box geraniums (actually geraniums) to the family of the cranesbill plants (Geraniaceae), but they are very different plants. They are about as closely related as roses and apple trees, both of which belong to the rose family (Rosaceae).
Cranesbill species have preserved their natural charm despite intense breeding to this day and are versatile in the garden. For example, the Balkan Cranesbill (Geranium macrorrhizum) is a tough ground cover for drier soils and deepest shadows. The Gray Cranesbill (Geranium cinereum) thrives best in the rock garden and the modern breeds 'Patricia' (Psilostemon hybrid) and 'Rozanne' (Wallichianum hybrid) feel most comfortable in the perennial flowerbed.
Geranium renardii is a decorative perennial with its dark-veined flowers in sunny locations and a well-drained soil
The correct propagation method for the various cranesbill species and varieties depends primarily on the growth behavior. Most can be multiplied well by division. They form either aboveground rhizomes or short subterranean foothills with numerous daughter plants. The urge to spread is, however, quite different, and thus the length of the rhizomes: While the Balkan Cranesbill can quickly conquer larger areas, the Caucasus Cranesbill (Geranium renardii) spreads very slowly. The Wallich Cranesbill (Geranium wallichianum) does not form any foothills - it has a taproot, which produces numerous shoots.
Multiply cranesbill by division
By division, almost all cranesbill species can be well propagated. It is the best propagation method for all species that have an underground, woody rhizome. From him drift with very short distances numerous new shoots. In March or April, dig out the entire plant with a digger fork and shake off the attached soil thoroughly. Then you tear off all short shoots from the rhizome. If you already have some of your own roots, these parts mentioned in the Gärtnerjargon Risslinge easily grow - even without leaves. Plant the cracklings in a protected, not too sunny place in humus rich soil and keep them evenly moist. Alternatively, you can cultivate the cranesbill young plants in small pots and plant out only in the fall.
The propagation method described is suitable for most cranesbill species, for example G. himalayense, G. x magnificum, G. oxonianum, G. pratense, G. psilostemon, G. sylvaticum and G. versicolor.
Propagation by rhizome cuttings
Detach the side shoot near the ground (left), slightly shorten the shoot with the knife (right)
Cranesbill species such as the Balkan Cranesbill (Geranium macrorrhizum), which spread through long, aerial rhizomes, can be very well propagated by so-called rhizome cuttings. This propagation method has the advantage that one does not have to clear the mother plants and already receives very many offspring from a few plants. Simply separate the long rhizomes and cut them into finger-length sections. Important: Be sure to remember which side of the mother plant is facing! This end is cut slightly diagonally and the entire rhizome piece with the oblique end down in a small pot with loosely grown soil, covered with foil and kept well moist. The rhizome pieces usually form new leaves and roots within a few weeks. Once the pot ball is well rooted, you can implement the young plants in the field.
This propagation method is recommended for Geranium macrorrhizum as well as for G. cantabrigiense and G. endressii.
Propagation by cuttings
Cranesbill species and varieties, which only form a strong taproot, can only be multiplied by division after several years. However, the yield of daughter plants is very low and the failure rate is high. Therefore, for example, the Wallich Cranesbill (Geranium wallichianum) and the Lambert Cranesbill (Geranium lambertii) are propagated mainly by cuttings. Incidentally, this also applies to all varieties and hybrids that have inherited their roots from these parent species, such as 'Buxton's Blue', 'Brookside', 'Salomé', 'Jolly Bee', 'Rozanne' or 'Ann Folkard'.
One cuts the usually only two to three centimeters long side shoots in the spring simply with a sharp knife from the mother plant and sticks them in loose Anzuchterde, which must be kept evenly moist. In seed trays with a transparent cover, the cuttings usually form the first roots after only two weeks in warm, not too sunny locations.After four weeks at the earliest, you can put the young plants into the bed or cultivate them in the pot until the autumn. For longer shoots can be used in addition to the so-called head cuttings from the shoot tips also Teilstecklinge from the middle drive segments for propagation.