The plant family Geraniaceae includes geraniums (430 species), Pelargonium (280 species) and Erodium (80 species). There are several ways to store these tender perennials from your garden during the cold months. Using newspaper, a cardboard box, a paper bag or a sunny windowsill, you can overwinter geraniums and have fresh blooms next spring. In this article, we’ll present some options and give you tips for winter care.
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Methods of how to overwinter geraniums
Method 1: Bring them indoors as a houseplant.
If you have room for pots in a sunny location, you can bring your geraniums indoors for the winter. They do need sun, but they do best in moderate temperatures of 12°-18 °C. West-facing windows that are slightly drafty, so the air around them is slightly cooler, are especially good for this.
Wintering geraniums in pots – digging up and transplanting: Some preparation is needed to make sure they are happy, healthy and insect free.
- If your geraniums are in the ground, you should dig them up and repot them about six weeks before the first frost.
- If they are already in pots, you can repot them if you wish, but prune them back hard and check for bugs before doing so.
- When repotting, cut back any overlong roots or gnarled root balls.
- Use a potting soil suitable for flowering plants in pots.
Label by color:
- Sort your geraniums by color and label them if you want to keep track of them.
You should also consider these factors
Prune back geraniums:
- It is generally recommended to cut the entire plant back by one-third to one-half.
- You should also remove any dead, damaged, moldy, unhealthy or diseased parts.
- While this hard pruning is best in the long run, you can try to keep any buds or flowers if the plant is otherwise beautiful and healthy.
- Look for aphids, spider mites, fungus gnats and other insidious beasties.
- Apply an insecticide spray specifically designed for bringing plants indoors.
- Water moderately and place your plants in a sunny but not too hot location.
Winter and spring care:
- Keep them moist, not dry or wet.
- A humidity level of 50% is optimal (without the risk of mold).
- Prune back the shoots.
- Fertilize lightly in the spring.
- Start hardening off (preparing plants for outdoor life) a few weeks before the last frost.
Method 2: Rooting geranium cuttings in a pot.
Instead of bringing the whole plant indoors for the winter, you can take cuttings. This is a good solution if space is limited indoors or you want more plants.
How to take cuttings:
- You want to get a stem about 10 to 15 inches long with two healthy leaves at the top.
- Choose a new stem that is green (not old and woody).
- Cut just below a leaf node with a clean, sharp scalpel or a very fine knife.
Method 3: Geraniums overwinter without soil, with bare roots.
This is a popular method, which has been practiced for generations. You will need a garage, shed, cold or unheated basement, where temperatures do not fall below freezing or rise above 7 ° Celsius. This method is called “bare-root” storage because the plant is taken out of the ground, pruned and stored in a cool place. Geraniums can tolerate this because of their thick, succulent roots, which will survive as long as they don’t dry out or get sick. How to proceed:
Dig up or repot:
- Carefully shake off all loose soil.
- You can let the plant air dry for a few days and then shake off more soil.
Winterizing Geraniums – Storage: Whatever you do, you don’t want the plants to get damp or sit on moisture because they are susceptible to mold. However, you must keep them watered at all times and not let them dry out (or they will die). There are several options:
- Hang the plants from ceiling hooks.
- Put them in paper bags and hang them from hooks, or put them on a shelf.
- Wrap them in newspaper and place them on a shelf.
- Have geraniums placed in a cardboard box (crate).
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Still follow these tips for geranium winter care.
- Check on your plants every week or two.
- Plants should remain firm, not wilted or looking unhealthy.
- Remove any mold, black spots or dead matter.
- Soak plants in warm water for one to two hours every month.
- Let them dry before returning them to bags, newspaper or boxes.
Six weeks before the last frost – revive dormant geraniums:
- Prune plants as needed and remove excessively long roots.
- Pot the plant in moist potting soil and bury it two leaf nodes deep (these form roots).
- Gradually bring the plant back into the light.
- New growth should appear in 1-2 weeks.
- Gradually place the plant outdoors (harden off) to wait for the last frost.
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