I’m loving this beautiful weather we’re having this fall! I wish it could last till Spring! Sadly, I know that Old Man Winter is just around the corner and suddenly, without proper warning, we will be saying that four letter word *snow*. So I’m putting the Geraniums to bed before that happens. Geraniums can be a little pricey depending on the size and variety so this is a way to save money by overwintering your Geraniums to use next Spring.
I’ve done this in the past and it really is amazing to me how something that looks so dead can become so beautiful by the time Summer arrives.
Last year I failed to get the Geraniums in before the first hard frost so I lost them and had to start over this year. I was determined not to let that happen again.
There several ways to overwinter Geraniums. I have always used the bare root method. I am experimenting with other methods, but for the sake of this article, we’ll stick to my tried and true bare root method.
Selecting the Best Plants
I have had good results with saving Zonal Geraniums or any of the heartier varieties. You can tell Zonal Geraniums by the heavier, almost vinyl-like leaves they have. They also tend to be the more expensive varieties at the nursery.
I haven’t had as good of luck with the seed Geraniums. They just don’t seem to be a strong enough plant to withstand the method I use anyway.
This year I am also saving Ivy Geraniums. The Ivy Geraniums I purchased this year were much heartier than what I normally use so I believe they will be great for overwintering.
Preparing your plants
After choosing which plants you will save, take a trowel and carefully dig them out of the container.
Brush as much of the dirt off as possible without damaging the roots.
Prune the plants back a bit so the stem doesn’t have to support quite as large of a system.
I lay them out by color and then start pruning them back. Once you’ve done your pruning you won’t have any way to know what color they were so keep like colors together.
Prune your Geraniums just above a node which are the little bumps that look sort of like a knuckle. Make sure to leave the node intact as that is where the leaves develop.
These Geraniums have been pruned about 2/3 of the way back.
Make sure you have a system for identifying what kind they are and separate by colors.
With Ivy Geraniums, I have two of each color so I just tie them together with a piece of string to keep them separate. All of my other Geraniums are the same salmon color so I just put them all together in one container.
In the past I have just tied a string near the roots to hang them upside down in a cool place. But you can also use a cardboard box or paper sack (not plastic) or, as I am doing this year, garden baskets.
Whatever you choose, just make sure you are storing them with the roots up.
Where to store your plants
Since I am using garden baskets this year, I covered them with paper sacks. You could also use newspaper. Then, they will stay in my enclosed breezeway. Or, if the temperature drops too low I may take them to the storage room in my basement.
Wherever they are stored, the temperature shouldn’t drop below 40 degrees. But you don’t want them too warm either. Say . . . no warmer that about 50 degrees is optimal.
Once a month, while they are in storage, they should be taken out just long enough to soak the roots in water for about an hour, then put back in storage with the roots up. Any foliage left on them in the fall will eventually turn brown and die back. Just remove as much of the dead material as possible each time you check on them.
If you notice any actual rotting or mildew starting, cut it off and discard.
In the early Spring, they can come out of storage and be repotted for the summer.
Initially, they will look pretty dead. But before you know it they will start leafing out and by late spring, you won’t even recognize them.
These are some that I have overwintered in previous years and they ended up beautiful!
This is how they looked by early Summer and continued to fill out even more throughout the season.
This may take a little effort but it really is little when you think about the cost savings. And if you truly love gardening, this will help satisfy your gardening craving while the snow is on the ground.
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