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Martha Washington geraniums (Pelargonium domesticum) form a diverse group of complex hybrids. Although they are commonly called geraniums, the plant was reclassified as Pelargonium more than 200 years ago. Pelargonium and Geranium are related and are both part of the plant family Geraniaceae. The plants have naturally branching stems and ruffled or crinkled dark green leaves. Succulent stems support upright clusters of flowers with flat petals. Known for their brilliant floral display, Martha Washington geraniums are available in vivid shades of purple, pink, salmon, maroon, white and red. The two top flower petals often emerge in a color or pattern that contrasts with those of lower petals.
Cut back or prune plants during summer after flowering stops. Martha Washington geraniums bloom during winter and early spring.
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Cut each stalk back to 4 inches in height using clean, sharp pruning shears or garden scissors, Make a clean, diagonal cut.
Provide fresh soil. Martha Washington geraniums, also known as royal or regal geraniums, prefer to be root bound. Gently loosen the plant from the pot. Tap it or shake it gently to loosen old soil. Add fresh soil and return to the same size pot. If the roots are tight and compacted, a pot 1 to 2 inches larger may be used.
Give the plant a rest for the remainder of the summer. Do not fertilize it. Place it in indirect light.
Cool the plant to allow it to set buds. During winter months, place it outdoors or in a garage or basement where temperatures are about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Resume regular watering and provide a light organic fertilizer. Geraniums do well when watered with diluted coffee. Create a solution of 1 part stale coffee and 1 part water. Coffee is rich in nitrogen and promotes vigorous growth.
Place cut stems in water to root if you wish to start additional plants. Stand the cuttings in a clear glass jar or container. Provide filtered sunlight. Change water frequently. Once the plant has developed strong, profuse roots, plant it in new pots or containers. This plant can only be started from cuttings.