Did you know you can save your geraniums over winter keeping them alive to regrow next year? With a little prep work and care, you can enjoy your geraniums for years without buying new ones!
Geraniums are a very popular flower for many households. You will see them in a variety of potted arrangements and annual gardens. But geraniums aren’t actually annuals! They are perennials! In most zone they are treated as annuals since they cannot survive our harsh winters. So we toss them in the compost at the end of the year, only to purchase new plants the following spring.
There are many different ways to overwinter geraniums. The method I am discussing in this post is called bare root storage. This is where you remove the entire plant from the soil and store until the cold weather is over before planting again. Bare-root plants require less space than overwintering potted geraniums.
Save Money by Overwintering Geraniums
By learning how to overwinter your geraniums, can save money by avoiding repurchasing new geranium plants year after year. The cost of flowers have increase along with everything else in the world so why not learn the easiest way to overwinter your tender geraniums to save money!
Preparing to Overwinter Geraniums Before the First Frost
Before the danger of frost, dig up or carefully uproot your geranium plants from the garden. Ensure you dig up as much of the root ball as possible. Turn the plant upside down and shake off as much dirt as possible. It is ok to have a little bit of dirt left, but you want to be able to see as much as the bare root as possible.
With clean pruning shears, prune all of the dead and diseased leaves and blooms, keeping the green full leaves. As you remove the leaves and blooms, check the stems and cut below any areas that show signs of disease or pests. Check for aphids, spider mites, fungal gnats, and other sneaky beasts.Apply an insecticidal soap spray made specifically for transitioning plants indoors.
Description: Geraniums, often referred to as pelargoniums, are popular flowering plants known for their vibrant and diverse blooms. hey come in various colors, including red, pink, white, and purple, with many different flower shapes and sizes. Geraniums are valued for their aromatic leaves and attractive, ornamental flowers.
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade, depending on the climate. They prefer at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Temperature: Geraniums thrive in moderate temperatures, with an ideal range between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C).
Soil: Well-draining, loamy soil is best. Geraniums prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6.0 to 7.5).
Watering: Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot.
Fertilizing: Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer during the growing season (spring to early fall).
Care and Maintenance:
Pruning: Regular deadheading (removing spent flowers) encourages continuous blooming.
Overwintering: In colder climates, geraniums can be overwintered indoors or in a sheltered area to protect them from frost.
Pests and Diseases: Common pests include aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. Regular inspection and treatment may be necessary.
Container Gardening: Geraniums are well-suited for container gardening and make excellent balcony or patio plants.
Propagation: Geraniums can be propagated from cuttings or by seed.
Garden Ornamental: Geraniums are commonly used in gardens, flower beds, and borders for their colorful blooms.
Container Plants: Ideal for pots, hanging baskets, and window boxes.
Indoor Plants: Some geranium varieties make attractive houseplants.
Geraniums are sometimes used as companion plants in vegetable gardens to deter certain pests, like Japanese beetles.
Note: While geraniums are often confused with true cranesbill geraniums, which are hardy perennial plants, the term “geranium” typically refers to pelargoniums, which are tender perennials or annuals in many regions.
Drying and Labeling Overwintered Geraniums
Allow the geraniums to air dry in a cool and shaded area for a period of a few hours, or even up to a full day to help dry out and drop excess soil. This important step serves to diminish any excess moisture, which, if left unchecked, could create mold or root rot development. It’s vital to exercise patience during this phase to ensure the geraniums are thoroughly dried.
Don’t forget to label your geraniums. Use a waterproof marker to record the variety or color of each plant. This will help you easily identify and organize your geraniums, making it simpler to keep track of their progress and care.
Prepare a cardboard box by adding several layers of newspaper at the bottom to provide insulation and cushioning for the plants. Carefully arrange the geraniums in the box upside down with the roots up. Space them out so they are not too crowded, but make sure they fit comfortably within the box.
Place the cardboard box in a cool, dark, and frost-free basement. Ideal temperatures for overwintering geraniums range from 45°F to 55°F (7°C to 13°C).
Ensure the geraniums are not exposed to freezing temperatures, drafts, or direct sunlight.
Check Dormant Geraniums Periodically
To maintain your overwintered geraniums in a basement or storage area effectively, a regular routine of care is essential. Start by checking your geraniums for moisture levels every couple of weeks. Healthy geraniums should maintain a firm and robust appearance. Look out for any signs of wilting or unhealthy appearances such as dead leaves. If you notice any, it’s crucial to address them promptly.
During these inspections, also be on the lookout for mold, blackened or rotting sections, or any dead matter on the plants. Remove any of these problematic areas as they can affect the overall health of the geraniums. Keeping your geraniums clean and free from diseased parts is a vital step in their care.
As part of your monthly maintenance routine, consider soaking the potted geraniums in warm water for about one to two hours. This occasional soak can help rehydrate the roots and maintain their overall health during the winter months. However, it’s crucial to ensure the plants are thoroughly dry before returning them to their storage containers, whether that’s plastic bags, newspaper, or a cardboard box. This precaution minimizes excess moisture that can lead to rot, mold, or other issues.
Bringing Geraniums Back in the Spring
In late winter or early spring, typically around March or April, start acclimating your geraniums to outdoor conditions by gradually increasing their exposure to light. Overwintering geraniums effectively requires a series of steps to ensure they remain healthy and vibrant.
It is a good idea to prune your geraniums as needed and remove any excessively long roots. This step helps maintain the plant’s overall shape and size, preparing it for the indoor phase of its winter care.
Next, pot the geranium cuttings in a pot with moist potting mix and drainage holes. Be sure to bury the plant about two leaf nodes deep. These nodes will serve as the foundation for new root growth, which is essential for the plant’s overall health. Providing adequate moisture during this phase is crucial to ensure the geraniums stay hydrated and happy.
After potting, it’s time to gradually reintroduce your dormant geranium plants to light in a sunny location to encourage signs of growth. This process can be critical for healthy plants, as geraniums need proper lighting conditions to thrive. Within a span of 1 to 2 weeks, you should begin to notice new growth as the plant adapts to its indoor environment. During this time the potted plants will require regular watering to regrow and form new growth and new leaves. You will know your geraniums have survived if you see healthy green growth form a few weeks after replanting in fresh potting soil.
When threat of frost is gone, you can prepare your geraniums for the outdoors. Gradually introduce them to outdoor conditions in anticipation of the last frost. This is often referred to as “hardening” the plants, and it helps them acclimate to outdoor temperatures and light levels.
By following these steps closely, you can make sure your geraniums survive the winter and are healthy when it’s time to plant them outdoors in the spring to enjoy them for another year!