Tips for successfully overwintering geraniums indoors

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Tips for successfully overwintering geraniums indoors

If you live in a region where the winters are cooler, you may need to take some steps to keep your geraniums alive during the winter months. Geraniums, also known as pelargoniums, are tender plants that do not tolerate freezing temperatures well. With the right care, however, you can over-winter your geraniums indoors and enjoy them for another season.

One option for over-wintering your geraniums is to bring them indoors and place them in containers. You can dig up the plants from your flowerbeds, taking care to keep the roots intact. If you prefer, you can also take cuttings from your geraniums. After taking the cuttings, strip off any leaves and wrap them in damp tissue paper or place them in water to keep the stems alive.

Once your geraniums are in containers, provide them with proper care to help them survive the winter. Find a location in your home that receives enough light for the plants to continue growing. Geraniums prefer bright, indirect light, so placing them near a window is a good option. Make sure the containers have drainage holes to allow excess water to escape, as geraniums can easily become waterlogged.

During the winter months, water your geraniums less frequently than you would during the summer. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings, but do not let it become completely dry. Over-watering can cause the roots to rot, while under-watering can cause the plants to become stressed. It’s a delicate balance, so be sure to monitor your geraniums closely.

Note: Although geraniums are usually grown as annuals, they can be perennials in zones 10 and 11. If you live in one of these regions, you can keep geraniums outdoors year-round and they will come back to life in the spring.

To encourage your geraniums to go into dormancy and prepare for the winter, you can take a few extra steps. Prune the plants back by about one-half, and remove any yellowing or dead leaves. You can also stop fertilizing your geraniums, as they do not require as much nutrients during the winter months.

In order to protect your geraniums from the colder temperatures, you can also cover them with a plastic sack or other protective covering. This will help to insulate the plants and keep them warmer during the winter. Just make sure to remove the covering once the danger of frost has passed in the spring.

By following these tips, you can successfully over-winter your geraniums and enjoy their beautiful blooms again next year. With a little care and attention, your geraniums will stay alive and thrive indoors during the cooler winter season.

How to Overwinter Geraniums

Geraniums, with their beautiful flowers and lovely scent, are a popular plant for many gardeners. But what do you do when winter comes and you want to keep your geraniums alive? Here are some tips to help you overwinter your geraniums indoors:

1. Thoroughly store above the surface: Before winter arrives, dig up your geraniums and shake off any excess soil. Remove any dead or damaged leaves, and cut back the stems by about one-half.

2. Keeping bare-root: Place your bare-root geraniums in a super well-draining container with a good quality potting mix. Then, keep them in a cool, frost-free spot.

3. Storing in plastic: Another method for overwintering geraniums is to dig up the entire plant, pot it, and place it in a plastic bag with some moist perlite or vermiculite.

4. Bringing indoors: If you prefer, you can also bring your potted geranium indoors for the winter. Just make sure to keep it near a sunny window and water it when the soil feels dry to the touch.

5. Special cuttings: If you want to begin fresh next summer, you can take some cuttings from your geraniums and start new plants. This is a great way to ensure that you’ll have geraniums again next year.

6. Making tissue culture: Another method for keeping geraniums over winter is to take tissue cultures when your plants are at their peak. This is a more involved process that requires a bit more experience as a gardener.

7. Understand tender plants: Geraniums are considered “tender” plants, which means they are not able to withstand freezing temperatures. They must be protected from frost and should be moved indoors or covered when temperatures drop.

By following these tips, you can successfully overwinter your geraniums and enjoy their vibrant blooms year after year.

Step 1 Dig up geraniums in fall

In the fall, when the weather starts to cool and the first frost begins to threaten, it’s time to dig up your geraniums and bring them indoors for the winter. There are a few options for overwintering geraniums, but one popular option is to dig them up from your flowerbeds and plant them in pots.

Start by carefully digging up your geraniums, making sure to dig up the entire root system. You can do this by digging a few inches away from the base of the plant and gently loosening the soil. Lift the plant out of the ground, being careful not to damage the roots. If the plant is quite large, you may need to use a shovel or garden fork to help lift it out.

Once the geranium is dug up, shake off any excess soil from the roots. If the plant has any flowers or leaves on it, you can trim them off to help reduce stress on the plant during the transition.

If your geraniums were planted in bare-root form, you can insert them directly into a pot. If they were planted in pots or containers, simply move the entire plant into your chosen overwintering pot. Make sure the pot has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

If you are keeping multiple geraniums, you can plant them together in one larger pot or keep them separate in smaller pots. Just make sure to give each plant enough space to grow and thrive.

You can use regular potting soil or a mix designed specifically for geraniums. It’s a good idea to add a layer of pebbles or broken pottery at the bottom of the pot to help with drainage.

When planting the geranium in its winter home, make sure to plant it at the same depth it was originally growing. If it’s in a pot, the soil level should be about one-half inch below the rim of the pot.

After planting, water the geraniums thoroughly. Keeping the soil slightly damp is important, but be careful not to overwater, as this can cause the roots to rot. You may also choose to water from the bottom by placing the pot in a tray of water and allowing the soil to soak up the moisture.

Finally, place your potted geraniums in a cool, frost-free location with plenty of natural light. A sunny windowsill or a room with southern exposure is a good choice. Geraniums like daytime temperatures between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit (15-21 degrees Celsius) and nighttime temperatures that are slightly cooler.

By following these steps, you can keep your geraniums alive and healthy throughout the winter months, saving them for another year of beautiful blooms in the spring.

Step 2: Store your geraniums over winter

After taking cuttings to propagate your geraniums, the next step is to store them properly during the winter season. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Prepare plastic containers or pots with drainage holes. Make sure the containers are adequate in size to accommodate the root system of your geranium plant.

  2. If you prefer, you can save space by pruning your geraniums by about two-thirds of their original height.

  3. Before the first frost arrives, dig up geraniums from the flowerbeds, making sure to take the whole root system. Shake off excess soil gently and remove any dead or damaged growth.

  4. If the stems of your geraniums have grown very long, it may be better to cut them back to about four to six inches in length. This will help the plant store more easily and prevent it from wilting.

  5. Next, gently insert the bare-root geraniums into the containers. If you prefer, you can use damp paper towels or sphagnum moss to wrap the roots to help retain moisture.

  6. Use regular potting soil or a well-draining mix to fill in around the roots, making sure it is damp but not overly wet.

  7. Place the potted geraniums in a cool, dark area with a temperature around 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (7 to 10 degrees Celsius). If you have a basement or cellar that meets these requirements, it can be an ideal spot for overwintering your geraniums.

  8. Regularly check the containers to ensure the soil remains lightly moist during the winter months. However, be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.

  9. If you notice any shriveled or wilted stems, remove them to prevent the spread of disease.

  10. In early spring, around February or March, you can start to gradually introduce more light to the geraniums as they come out of their dormant state and begin to wake up from winter slumber.

  11. As the weather improves, you can gradually increase the time the geraniums spend outdoors, allowing them to adjust to the increasing sunlight and temperatures.

Following these steps will help ensure your geraniums survive the winter and come back to life in the next growing season. By taking the time to store and care for your geraniums properly, you can enjoy their beautiful blooms year after year!

Step 3: Pot up overwintered geraniums in spring

Once the frost-free season begins and temperatures are consistently above freezing, it’s time to pot up your overwintered geraniums. This step is crucial to help these beautiful plants thrive in the coming summer!

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Start by carefully removing the geraniums from their overwintering location, whether it’s a plastic sack or bare-root. Be gentle to avoid damaging the stems or roots.

  2. Inspect the plants for any signs of wilting or shriveled tissue. If you notice any issues, trim away the affected areas, leaving only healthy stems and leaves.

  3. Prepare a well-draining potting mix by mixing one-part peat moss with two parts well-draining soil. Fill a pot with this mixture.

  4. Take each geranium plant and place it into a pot, making sure the roots are well spread out. Add more potting mix around the roots to secure the plant in place and tap the pot gently to help the soil settle.

  5. Water the newly potted geraniums well. This will help the soil get firm around the roots and ensure the plants are properly hydrated.

  6. Place the potted geraniums in a sunny location, where they can receive at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. If you don’t have a suitable spot indoors, you can move them outside to a sheltered area once the risk of frost has passed.

  7. Keep the overwintered geraniums well watered throughout the growing season, but be careful not to overwater. Aim to keep the soil evenly moist, allowing the top inch to dry out before watering again.

By following these steps, you can give your overwintered geraniums the best chance at thriving in the new growing season. With proper care and attention, the plants will reward you with their vibrant blooms and lush foliage!

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.