Gardeners have several ways to keep geraniums over the winter. Growers allow the plant to survive winter dormancy if they are kept above freezing or saved as bare root to ensure they stay for years.
Geraniums are one of the most beautiful container and garden plants that grow and bloom beautifully year after year. And the best thing is that this beauty can survive for most winters without soil.
But how do we keep geraniums in winter for a head start on blooms next spring? Read on as I’ll walk you through several options and winter care tips.
6 Winter Care Tips For Geraniums
1) Your Geraniums Need Light
Geraniums are tender plants that are treated as annuals because they survive year-round in the mild climates of the U.S. hardiness zones 9 to 11. In winter, potted geraniums can thrive indoors in a brightly lit room.
Sunlight is essential for geraniums to stay healthy throughout the winter. And low light, on the other hand, can make the plant grow tall and leggy with yellowing foliage.
If you have no access to natural light like a sunny window or if you live in cloudy winters, place the plants under fluorescent or grow light for about 14-hours every day to supplement the demand of natural light.
Providing the plant an adequate supply of light is the key to enjoy vibrant full blooms and optimum longevity.
2) Provide Necessary Water and Soil
Geraniums prefer a slightly moist potting mixture. This plant doesn’t tolerate soggy soil as roots are prone to rot. While the plants require regular water, you have to allow the soil to dry in between watering.
Also, when growing geranium in containers, choose a pot with adequate hole drainage and let the pot drain thoroughly after a few minutes by emptying the drainage saucer.
3) Prevent Insects and Disease
There’s so much to love about this hardy and comforting beauty. Given the best conditions, geraniums will stay with you and last from spring to late autumn after other plants and flowers have bloomed and faded.
Always check the plants for some signs of pests or diseases, and only bring in healthy and problem-free geraniums into your indoor spacing. Plus, remove spent flowers every day to prevent the possibility of diseases like leaf spot or rot.
Also, help control several pests like mites, aphids, and mealybugs by spraying your plant with insecticidal soap or hydrogen peroxide as a foliar spray. These are effective against insects which cause leaves to turn brown around the edges and eventually fall off.
4) Understand Geranium Cold Hardiness
Geraniums can survive moderate freeze at about 25°F, but an ivy-leafed variety can get killed at 28°F. In areas that generally have these temperatures, geraniums are brought indoors before the first frost.
5) Perform Deadheading
To maintain the vibrant, beautiful blooms of geraniums you will have to associate yourself with deadheading and pruning.
Deadheading is a technique used to prevent blooms from becoming sparse, that will eventually stop producing flowers, or when the flowers start to look brown and weak.
It encourages new buds to grow, and the entire process takes just a few minutes. This process can help your plants last for weeks and even months longer.
And to encourage gorgeous bushy growth, pinching the growing tips of the stem is another way to promote branching out.
6) Pruning is Necessary
When geraniums have spent the season in bloom, you’ll want to prune the plants when they begin to die. Pruning will keep the plant dormant for the winter and store energy for spring.
Depending on your zone, you can do this anywhere from August to late October.
Trimming your plant about 2-3 inches above the soil or removing new growth points and nodes will give you unattractive thick stems. However, the process will bring back your blooms in full display of beauties the next spring.
3 Ways To Keep Geraniums In Winter
1) Grow in Containers
Geraniums can thrive, whether in-ground or in containers indoors, given proper care and appropriate conditions.
However, there’s some preparation necessary to ensure this gorgeous plant stays happy, healthy, and insect-free this winter.
- In winter, you can bring your potted geraniums inside to protect the plants from the harsh cold.
- Place containerized geraniums in a cool, sunny spot. Geraniums love plenty of bright, direct sunlight but grow best with moderate temperatures of 55°-65°F.
- The plant does not do well in a dark and hot, humid room.
- If your plant has outgrown its pot, you can transplant geranium into bigger pots before you bring them in.
- But make sure to use a potting mix ideal for containerized plants instead of garden soil.
- Trim and loosen the gnarly root ball before potting to ensure healthy growth.
- Water newly potted plants as needed when the dirt in the pot begins to dry.
- Don’t forget to do your bug inspection first before bringing them in to prevent the spread of pests and disease to other houseplants.
- Check for insects like aphids, spider mites, and fungal gnats to avoid the possibility of infestation.
- Apply an insecticide, or organic foliar spray made for transitioning plants indoors to eradicate bugs and insects.
- Cut back fully grown geraniums by one third to one half to help the plant survive winter.
- Remove dead, damaged, unhealthy, or diseased parts of the plants.
- Pinch back the tips of new shoots to encourage them to branch out. But keeping any buds or flowers is okay if the plant is healthy.
- Acclimate the plants to their new environment to help them withstand too much of a temperature difference.
2) Keep Overwintering Bare-Root Geraniums
Keeping bare-root geraniums to plant for the next year is the most popular method among growers.
However, you’ll need unheated shelter such as a garage, shed, cold cellar, or basement to store the collected bare root. And ensure the storage does not dip below freezing or go beyond 45°F.
Geraniums have thick roots and stems that survive winter when watered frequently and by keeping them healthy. The bare root can go dormant and survive, given the right conditions.
- Dig up geraniums carefully before the first fall frost.
- Shake off the soil from the plant’s roots.
- Place one or two plants in an unsealed paper sack and store in a cool, dry location.
- Label the plants by colors.
- An unheated garage, basement or indoor porch can be suitable storage.
- You can also hang the plants upside down in a cool, dry location.
- Once a month, pull your geraniums out and soak the roots in water.
- Allow drying before storing again.
- Prune or cut back the plant in March.
- Remove the dead, damaged part of the plant.
- Prune back to live stem tissue.
- Repot the plants and water thoroughly.
- The potted geraniums can be placed in a cool, sunny window.
- After all danger of frost has passed, you can move newly potted geraniums outdoors.
- Geraniums that are pruned and potted in March can be planted outdoors in May.
3) Save Cuttings From Outdoor Plants
Keeping several geranium cuttings in winter is another option to multiply the number of plants for the next year’s garden. This gorgeous plant roots readily from cuttings.
- To generate cuttings from geranium, remove about 3-4 inches of the plant’s stem tip with a sharp knife.
- Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting.
- Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone to establish roots quickly.
- Stick the cuttings in a moist, well-draining rooting media.
- Place cuttings in pots individually or several cuttings in a bigger container.
- Make sure the container pots have holes for drainage.
- Secure a clear plastic bag over the cuttings to create a mini greenhouse.
- Place the DIY mini-greenhouse with bright, but indirect light.
- Keep the soil evenly moist.
- Rooting will start to occur in about 6 to 8 weeks.
- When the roots are about 1-inch long, transplant cuttings into a 3-4 inch container using well-draining potting soil.
- Place in front of a cool, sunny window.
- Water as needed.
- Pinch shoot tips back to force branching or prevent spindly growth.
- Newly potted plants produced from cuttings can grow vigorously, given the right conditions.
Final Thoughts on How to Keep Geraniums in Winter
It’s no surprise many growers want to enjoy blooms of geraniums in their garden year after year. It can be the variety grown by a beloved grandmother or the color that sets the perfect tone of the garden landscape; there are countless reasons to overwinter your geraniums.
Geraniums are grown as annuals, except in USDA zones 10 and 11 where the mild climate lets geraniums flourish all year long.
But these low-methods for wintering geraniums are effective. They involve storing bare roots in a dormant state, propagating new plants from cuttings, or bringing them indoors as houseplants.
Wintering geraniums encourage mature plants to produce larger flowers in full blooms, while those that are a few years old can display smaller flower heads. Besides, keeping geraniums over winter saves you money when the next spring’s garden season begins.
Are there any other tips you want to add to our list? Feel free to write in the comment section below!