By Heather Rhoades
Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) are grown as annuals in most parts of the U.S., but they are actually tender perennials. This means that with a little care, getting geraniums to last over winter is possible. Even better is the fact that learning how to keep geraniums over winter is easy.
Saving geraniums for the winter can be done in of three ways. Let’s look at these different ways.
How to Save Geraniums Over the Winter in Pots
When saving geraniums for the winter in pots, dig up your geraniums and place them in a pot that can comfortable fit their rootball. Prune the geranium back by 1/3. Water the pot thoroughly and place in a cool but well lit part of your house.
If the cool area you have in mind does not have enough light, place a lamp or light with a fluorescent bulb very close to the plant. Keep this light on 24 hours. This will provide enough light for getting geraniums to last over winter indoors, though the plant may get a little leggy.
How to Winter Geraniums by Making Them Go Dormant
The nice thing about geraniums is that they will go into dormancy easily, meaning you can store them in a similar fashion to storing tender bulbs. Saving geraniums for the winter using this method means that you will dig the plant up in the fall and gently remove the soil from the roots. The roots should not be clean, but rather free from clods of dirt.
Hang the plants upside down in either your basement or garage, someplace where the temperature stays around 50 F. Once a month, soak the roots of the geranium plant in water for an hour, then re-hang the plant. The geranium will lose all of its leaves, but the stems will remain alive. In the spring, replant the dormant geraniums in the ground and they will spring back to life.
How to Save Geraniums Over the Winter Using Cuttings
While taking cuttings is not technically how to keep geraniums over winter, it is how to make sure you have inexpensive geraniums for next year.
Start by taking 3- to 4-inch cuttings from the green (still soft, not woody) part of the plant. Strip off any leaves on the bottom half of the cutting. Dip the cutting into rooting hormone, if you so choose. Stick the cutting into a pot with vermiculite in it. Make sure the pot has excellent drainage.
Place the pot with the cuttings into a plastic bag to keep the air around the cutting humid. The cuttings will root in 6 – 8 weeks. Once the cuttings are rooted, repot them in soil. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot till they can go back outside again.
Now that you know how to winter geraniums 3 different ways, you can choose the way that you think will work best for you. Getting geraniums to last over winter will reward you with large lush geranium plants long before your neighbors have bought theirs.