Geraniums are a garden favorite, and it is important to protect them from a frost in the winter. They grow from the spring until the first frost, and they don’t require a lot of maintenance.
However, you need to store them over the winter so that they can grow again the following spring. You can choose between placing them in containers or keeping them dormant until the spring.
How to Overwinter Geraniums in Containers
As long as you care for them properly, you can place your geraniums in containers indoors over the winter. You can leave them outside until right before the first frost.
Before the first frost, you will start by preparing the geranium for its move. First, cut it back to about half of its size and examine it to see if there are any signs of disease or insects.
Then get your containers ready. You will want to use a potting mix that is made for plants that are containerized, as this is better than the heavy garden soil.
Garden soil won’t drain as well in your containers, and you want your geraniums to stay healthy all winter. Now you can dig them up and transplant them into the containers.
Do not move any plants that show signs of disease or insects. The last thing you want is for them to spread to your healthy plants.
Take your containers with the geraniums indoors, and place them in a location that is cool but has plenty of bright, direct sunlight.
You should water them as they need it, but wait until you notice the soil starting to get dry. Don’t fertilize them until the spring.
You can lightly fertilize them before you move them back outside in the spring, and your potted geraniums will be larger than others.
Take Cuttings for Overwintering
If you don’t want to dig up the entire plant for overwintering, you can take cuttings. Geraniums root well from their cuttings, and you will have more plants in the spring.
You should remove three- to four-inch sections of the stem of the plant, and be sure to use a sharp knife. You can pinch off the leaves from the bottom of the cutting and place the end in a rooting hormone.
You can purchase rooting hormones in either a powder or liquid form from most garden centers. Then place the cuttings in a rooting material, such as vermiculite, perlite, or coarse sand.
Make sure that it has good drainage, and the material should be porous and moist. You can also root cuttings in single pots, or you can take several of them and put them together in one container.
Any container you use should have good drainage holes, and you want to keep them in a location where they are moist with a lot of humidity.
You can actually make your own DIY greenhouse effect with a plastic bag. Place it over the cuttings and the container, and it should sit in a bright location with filtered light.
You need to make sure that they remain moist while they are there, and it should take between six and eight weeks for them to root. Keep them in this container until the roots are around an inch long, and then move them to a three- or four-inch container with normal potting soil.
At this point, you can stick them in a sunny location in your home, and be sure to water them. If you see shoot tips, pinch them back to force it to branch.
By the spring, your plants should be the same size as those sold in garden stores.
How to Overwinter Geraniums in Dormant Storage
Geraniums are different from other types of annuals because they can survive all winter without any soil. You have to properly store them, but they have succulent stems that allow them to survive in dormancy without soil.
Start by digging up the entire plant, including the roots. Make sure that you shake the soil off, and make sure that you get this done before the first frost of the season.
Then you should let them sit in a spot in the shade for a few days so that they can dry. This will help to ensure that they don’t develop any mold or mildew while they are stored over the winter.
Then you can place the plants inside brown bags or boxes. You will close the top of the box or bag, or you can hang them upside down from the rafters in your attic.
No matter where you store them, you should make sure that it is cool and dark. The ideal temperature is between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
You will want to take them out two of three times over the winter and soak the roots in water for a few hours. When you do this, look at the stems and make sure that they are solid and firm.
If you notice any of the stems looking shriveled, you will need to throw them out because they are unlikely to make it.
Then you can place the geraniums in pots at the end of March or early in April, and water them thoroughly. If you see any dead stem tips, cut them off.
Keep the pots in a sunny window so that they start growing. It takes a few weeks for them to start up again after being dormant for the winter.
How to Revive Geraniums After the Winter
When you take your geraniums out from overwintering, they can look a little shabby. However, you can make them look great with some care.
The first thing you do is take them out of the cool spot where you stored them over the winter. You can transplant them into a pot.
Check them for any dead stem tips or dead leaves, and trim them off with a sharp knife or pruning shears that have been cleaned off with rubbing alcohol. Then place them in a window that has 10 to 12 hours of sunlight each day.
You should give it water and continue until you see water in the tray underneath the pot. Now you need to wait a few weeks for it to transition from dormancy to active growth.
You will start to see new leaves when it comes out of dormancy. At this time, you should feed it a small amount of fertilizer. You can dissolve a half teaspoon of fertilizer in a gallon of water.
Let the geraniums stay indoors until the last frost has passed. Keep in mind that a late frost can kill your plant.
Once the last frost has passed, you can take them outside in the pots or transplant them to the garden. Make sure that the nighttime temperatures are not dipping below 55 degrees before you move it outside.
One of the ways that you can save geraniums for the next season is by taking cuttings before the first frost in the fall. You can take the cuttings anywhere from August through September.
When you choose the stems, take those that have grown throughout the year but no longer have flowers. You should also make sure that the plant it is on is healthy and is growing.
You can cut the stem about four inches from the tip, remove the lower leaves, and place it in some water. Then add cutting agent hormones as a rooting agent.
You will keep these cuttings in a pot over the winter. They will develop roots six or eight weeks after you cut them.
Keep them over the winter just as you would other geraniums you keep in a pot. You should make sure that they have water over the winter, and in the spring when you are ready to encourage growth, move them to a sunny place near a window.
Once the danger of a frost has passed, you can take the pot outside or you can take the geranium and plant it in the ground.
Your geraniums from cuttings should look similar to new geraniums that you find in garden and plant stores. They will be healthy and look great.
One way to increase the number of geraniums in your yard is to take more cuttings. You can also take cuttings in April or May, and they will start growing after the roots develop.
Then you can overwinter your new geraniums along with any you already had. This is a great way to increase the number of geraniums you enjoy in your garden and your yard.
Geraniums are unique compared to other annual flowers because they can survive in dormancy over the winter. They have thick, succulent stems that allow them to resist periods of drought, but this also allows them to make it through the winter in a dormant state.
There are different ways to overwinter your geraniums, so you can choose the method that is easiest for you. Just make sure that you wake them up in the spring so that they are ready to go outside and start growing after the last frost.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.