Geraniums Over Winter

My mother very successfully grew Geraniums (pelargoniums) as indoor pot plants for many years. For the majority of gardeners the zonal geraniums are an outdoor feature of brightly coloured flowers that are often treated as annuals. Over wintering can be too much fuss and frustrating if you get it wrong. There are things you can do to optimise your success in getting a favourite plant through even a cold, soggy winter. Firstly select varieties that are worth the effort of preserving.

Pot Up Pre-winter

  • Unless already in pots replant your favourite geraniums in individual pots with a gritty compost.
  • Tidy up any nibbled leaves and poor stems cutting back a bit if necessary.
  • Keep the pots in a bright, cool spot such as a windowsill. Avoid a frosty reception from a cold window behind curtains.
  • A good plant will keep flowering for a while into winter.
  • Do not over water but keep on the dry side.

Mass Protection

  • If you wish to save a lot of plants you can try keeping them in a frost free area such as a garage or greenhouse.
  • Dig up before they are frosted and knock off as much soil as you can from the roots. Trim back by a half.
  • Either hang the plants in a cool, dark room or place them in paper bags. They will loose their leaves but the stems should reshoot in spring if planted in good compost.
  • Check every few weeks to make sure the plants are not shriveling or drying out completely. Mist or soak if they do get over dry.

Take Cuttings

  • If you have particular geraniums you wish to preserve I recommend taking cuttings.This method takes up less space but you need to start well before the first frosts.
  • Start by taking 3- to 4-inch cuttings from the greenĀ  part of the plant. Strip off any leaves on the bottom half of the cutting. Some gardeners recommend dipping the cutting into rooting hormone but I find it more important to ensure excellent drainage.
  • I would definitely use the cuttings method for Regals, Scented and special geranium plants.

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