Did you know you’re supposed to be storing geraniums over the winter? Did you know that these incredibly hardy plants can last for decades if stored properly? That’s right, there is no need to purchase new geraniums each year. Geraniums are actually perennials even though they are grown as annuals in many parts of the country.
I love geraniums because their blooms are bursting with color that seem to last well into the fall. Geraniums have a lovely, delicate fragrance and it’s really challenging to kill them. They can handle being over-watered and under-watered. If you have a cabin up north, you don’t need to worry about hiring the neighbor kid to water them while you’re away for the weekend. They’ll endure under considerable neglect.
Storing Geraniums over the Winter
Overwintering geraniums is pretty easy. There are three ways to store your geraniums: keep them blooming and growing, letting them go dormant and making cuttings from them. I prefer letting my geraniums go dormant because it’s the easiest way.
Potted Geraniums – This method is generally for geraniums that have been planted in the ground during the growing season. Dig up the plant and place in a put with ample room for the rootball. Prune it back a bit and water thoroughly. Keep the plant in a cool and well lit area in your home. You’ll want as much sunlight as possible so a southern facing window works well. There still may not be enough light so the plant may get a little spindly or leggy. You can use a plant light if you prefer.
Make them go Dormant – This is my preferred method of wintering my geraniums, mostly because it is the easiest and because I have a cat who eats houseplants. Many sites will tell you to water the plant during its dormancy, and that may work. I don’t bother. I pull the pots in before the first freeze and place them all in a dark area of the basement. I actually put them in an unused shower in the basement so I can shut the door and keep the cat out.
I don’t think about the plants until spring. Let me repeat that. I don’t water them, I don’t hang them upside down and I don’t let them have any light. They are out of sight and out of mind.
When spring comes I bring them outside into the shade at first, and soak them as they are moved into more and more light. After about a week I put them back into direct sunlight and pretty much forget about them until fall when it’s time to overwinter them again. Of course I prune them each season and clip any dead blooms off the plant. I’ve used this method for over 15 years and have beautiful geraniums.
Cuttings – I’ve made cuttings from many plants, but not geraniums. I’m sure it works wonderfully because the plant is so hardy, I just haven’t had a reason to do it yet. Basically cut 3 or 4 inch cuttings and remove any leaves from the bottom of the cutting. Place into a pot filled with vermiculite. Make sure the drainage is good. You can place the cutting into a plastic bag to keep the cutting humid. Rooting should happen in about 6 to 8 weeks. Once they have rooted repot them into potting soil. Keep them in a cool well lit place until it’s warm enough to put them outside.
Pretty simple. Geraniums are one of my all time favorite flowers because they are so easy to care for, and their stunning blooms last and last.