There comes a point where Geranium maderense finally exhausts itself and starts to look pretty ugly. Its beautiful architectural leaves and reflexed petioles that once helped to hold the plant up finally shrivel and the plant collapses under its own weight. Thousands and flowers and seeds take up a lot of resources.
“When should I cut this beast back?” I wondered.
The leaves from the main stem are all dried up and dead. The leaves you are seeing here are from two pups. Lower side branches from the base of the plant. I wanted to save one of them so I had to work carefully so I wouldn’t damage it.
Here you can see the old leaf petioles flushed against the trunk. They start out upright and as the plant grows taller the lower leaves reflex and act as a support for the plant. They do a pretty good job at it. The main stem gets three to four feet tall and at least another two feet while in bloom and is quite top heavy. But the leaves helped hold mine up in 30-40 mph gusts of wind.
This is the base of the plant where you can pretty clearly see that the pups are new stems coming from the base. I have had people insist that the plant is completely monocarpic and that my pups were just seedlings but obviously that is not always the case.
I carefully sawed off the main trunk and the weaker pup and saved the one that was more upright. It has been doing fine and should hopefully bloom next year. Not a problem if it doesn’t make it as there are tons of seedlings already germinating. It is definitely a bit weedy but the seedlings are large and distinct so they are pretty easy to thin out or remove.