How-to Overwinter & Propagate Your Geraniums

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul.” Luther Burbank

I recently posted on how-to save your canna’s & I thought now is the perfect time to talk about overwintering your geraniums. As the nights grow colder and frosts are right around the corner, it’s time to bring in your geraniums if you plan to overwinter them. In my post about canna’s I mentioned how much my grandmother loved them, well she was equally as passionate about her red geraniums!

I know so many of my readers are gardeners, so I thought this would be the perfect time to share this great bit of information! I use all of these methods myself and have had great success with them. Let’s get ready for old man winter and keep as many of our beautiful blossoms as possible!

If you missed my post on saving your canna’s, here’s the link for easy reference: https://fordragonfliesandme.com/2022/10/08/how-to-preserve-your-canna-rhizomes/

1. Bring your potted geraniums inside to enjoy all winter long!
This is by far the easiest way, however depending on how many you have and how large the containers are you may need to utilize a few other methods for some. Care for your plants as you would outside with respect to sunshine & watering.

One of my porch pots with several plants in it including a beautiful salmon colored geranium.

Hard pruning your plants will give them an upper hand from the stress of coming indoors. Cut back at least one third of the plant, however you can try to keep any stems with buds. When cutting them back, be sure to cut at the swollen part of the stem, called the ‘node’. This will stimulate growth on your plant!

Pro Tip: Before you bring in your potted geraniums, be sure to carefully snip off any dead or decaying blossom heads & leaves. Also be sure to check for any hiding insects on the bottom of the leaves, in the blossom heads, and around the dirt. I recommend cutting the plant back & then using an insecticidal soap spray a few days prior to bringing them in. I use Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap.

2. Store your geraniums using the Bare Root method! This method is also super easy. Here’s the skinny on how-to:

  1. The first step is to cut back your geranium. You will want to use sharp garden shears and cut the plant 6” above the soil line. DON’T throw the plant away, you can use it for stem cuttings! Hold on for that info coming. 
  2. Once your plant is cut back, remove any excess leaves carefully plucking off from the stem as closely as possible. Next, take a hand trowel and carefully dig straight down around the base of the stem, about 5” away, sliding down on each side- think North, South, East & West; gently lift the plant out of the pot or ground.

3. Once you’ve carefully dug up the plant, gently shake off any dirt clumps clinging to the roots.

4. The final step is to store the bare roots in either a thick paper bag or cardboard box. Keep them in a dark, cool, dry space that stays between 50 to 60 degrees. Check them once a month for any mold. If mold is found, carefully cut off the area and place in a clean bag or box. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to tag your bare root stems by color. You can simply write the color & variety on the outside of the paper bag or box. Store the same colors together unless you only have one.

Pro Tip: Removing any excess leaves will help prevent mold from growing on your roots.

3. Take cuttings from your plants & rooting them in water! Taking cuttings & rooting is very easy and can be done right in your kitchen! This is a great solution for small spaces, or if you just want more plants! Here’s how!

  1. Be sure to take green stems that are not woody or old, and at least 4 to 6 inches in length. 
  2. Be sure to remove any flower stems & buds. 
  3. Leave 2 to 3 leaves at the top of the stem. 

4. Take a sharp pair of kitchen shears or a scalpel and carefully cut just below the swollen part of the stem called the ‘node’ on an angle. Cutting at this part of the stem will stimulate root growth. This is the opposite of what you want to do to encourage new stem growth on the plant.

Place cut side down in fresh water covering about 2 to 3 inches of the stem. I recommend giving the stems fresh water every 1 to 2 days. 

Pro Tip: If you want to use rooting hormone you certainly can, but I don’t feel it is necessary. I’ve used this method for years with great success!

Generally it takes about 3 to 6 weeks for a cutting to root in water. Keep the cuttings in a sunny window with an average temperature of 65 to 75 degrees. Once you see roots sprouting, you can plant your new geranium. Place them in fresh potting soil in any container you may have. Just be sure they have proper drainage & don’t overwater! 

Pro Tip: If you are using the bare root method,  you can use the tops of the plants you cut back. If you intend to do this, be sure you have some totes of weather to place the cut tops stems in while you are working. Keep them in water until you are ready to start this method.

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Happy Day,
Jean

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How-to Preserve Your Canna Rhizomes

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.”
Alfred Austin

I can still remember my grandmother’s cannas towering up against the back of our house. I can still see the tall, red blossoms amongst the elegant tropical leaves. Every year she planted the rhizomes she’d saved from the year before. She just loved those tall, blazing red blooms. 

As an adult I also have grown to love them and have saved my own for years. And believe me, there is always plenty to share! Today I want to share my technique for harvesting & storing my canna’s, along with another that you may prefer.

1. Once your canna’s leaves have died back- generally after the first light frost, cut back the leaves leaving about 4-6 inches of the stem.
NOTE: Do not allow your cannas to suffer a hard frost otherwise they will more than likely parish.

2. Carefully begin to dig up the rhizomes with your shovel.
NOTE: Use a large pointed spade or garden fork and cut into the soil straight down rather than angling in. This will help prevent cutting any of the rhizomes.

3. Carefully lift the thick mound of roots from the soil. You may need to work the soil from all sides with the shovel to lift them without damaging them.

4. Next, carefully pull the rhizomes apart trying not to snap them. Don’t worry if any of them do snap, you can still store them.

Once they are separated, lightly rinse off the dirt with a misting spray of water without rubbing them.

Did you know: Cannas are commonly referred to as a bulb although they are not a true bulb.

Cannas multiply beneath the soil from a fattened extension of the stalk called a rhizome.

Fun Fact: Although canna’s are a tropical plant, they can be overwintered in zones north of zone 8 if brought in, or by digging up the rhizomes and storing.

NOTE: Rhizomes that may have been cut by your shovel are still salvageable.

There are many types of canna’s varying in height, blossom & leaf color. Blossoms range from all shades of reds, corals, oranges, & yellows. Heights can range from 2 feet up to 12 feet tall… which are simply magnificent!

However, the most intriguing element these beauties offer are their wide range of leaf color. My personal favorites are the green variegated. Other colors include purplish-red, bright red or green, as well as a variegated red. The varieties offered are sure to please any gardener.

Now lets talk storage!

Digging up & storing over winter

Once you’ve dug up your cannas according to my instructions above, you must cure them before storage begins.
To do this simply air-dry them in a dry, warm location for seven to ten days. This can be done in your garage or in an outdoor shed. The key is to keep them dry. Curing toughens the outer skins in order to help the rhizomes resist rot during storage.
Once they are cured, you will take the rhizomes and wrap them individually in newspaper or in paper lunch bags. You can then place them in a cardboard box for winter storage. Keeping them in a dry basement, in a garage as long as it doesn’t freeze, or even a closet will work. Temperatures should remain above 40 degrees, but not get over 60.

Keeping your potted cannas indoors over winter

If you planted cannas in your summer garden pots, you can bring them in to over-winter! This is a great way to save them if you have the room. Depending on how many you have, it may be easier to do the first method, or split them up if you have several.
Simply cut the stems back to the soil. Keep them in the same conditions as the digging up method.

Monitoring your rhizomes throughout the winter!
Over the winter months, periodically inspect the bulbs to make sure they are not rotting. Inspecting does take a bit of time, but you won’t be disappointed if you do this just once a month.

Marking it on your calendar helps to remember. 

Once spring arrives, carefully inspect all your rhizomes discarding any bad ones… & then happy gardening planting the rest!

Losing a few over the winter is normal as bad spots can easily be missed. If 70 to 80 percent of them make it, you did a great job!

If you enjoyed this blog, please LIKE, Follow & of course Share! Let me know what you think ! I love your feedback!

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Happy Day,
Jean

Choosing Annuals, Keep Flowers Blooming, Mud Room Coat Racks & Yummy Breakfast Bake

The nursery & garden centers are a tempting place to go right now for us gardeners.  As we drive past we can see the happy pansies that we just know want to come home with us, shrubs that we are sure we would have just the right spot for beckon us to take them, that beautiful flowering American Red Bud would go just perfect over in the side yard… yes we gardeners are like the pet lovers that just want to give that one last kitty or puppy a nice home, we too think just one more… Well, thankfully plants are a bit easier to maintain and provide for, so on goes the reasoning away! That’s OK though, pet lovers and gardener’s alike love what they love and we know what makes us happy.  Right now I am busy planning our farms new Sausage Raised Bed Garden.  The boys and I just put twenty new 4×8 beds in the side yard and this will be where we plant all the herbs, peppers and fennel that will go into Neil’s sausage blends.  It is very exciting to know that Lord willing this fall I will be harvesting all these wonderful things that will tease ‘your’ taste buds in the coming seasons.  I love gardening!

I would like to take a couple days and discuss the options and decisions that effect us when choosing between annuals & perennials.  Today we will discuss Annuals. The time for us to start making these decisions is steadily creeping up on us~ the choices of annuals will soon bombard us. We should be choosing a variety of flowering ornamental’s.  Many bulbs provide early spring color, while perennials change the garden’s look from week to week.  Annuals are steady performers, adding color and filling in while hardy plants mature; because they last only one season, annuals also let you experiment with different schemes, year after year.  Each year we are exposed to several new varieties and colors of petunias, marigolds, salvia’s and such… which do we choose?  For me it is kind of easy… I know I like pinks & purples.  My garden’s are primarily in this color range with a few splashes of yellow, red and orange from nasturtiums, marigolds and canna’s.  But otherwise I stick to what I know I like~ pinks & purples.
Here are a few tips to help you when choosing annuals:
*Thinking Through Annuals:
~Annuals will give you lots of spectacular color through the season with repeat blooming.
~Annuals will grow for only one season, but some such as sweet alyssum, pansies, snapdragons and bachelor buttons will reseed prolifically!
~Annuals do a wonderful job filling in between newly planted perennials that need some time to mature. 
~Most annuals prefer a sunny location, with a few exceptions that like shade- impatiens, coleus, begonias and pansies will tolerate.
~They like containers and will be faithful bloomers as you are faithful in dead heading and watering.
~You can keep some through the winter by potting them up in containers and bringing them indoors.  If you have a green house or four season sun room, you can enjoy your beloved bloomers for a bit longer.  Some better bets include begonias, coleus, impatiens, and geraniums. 
Here are a few suggestions on types of annuals:
Tender Types: Ageratum, begonia, celosia, cleome, coleus, geranium, impatiens, marigold, morning glory, salvia, sunflower, vinca and zinnia.  These need to be sown or transplanted about two weeks or more after the last spring frost, when the soil is warm.  These annuals will not survive if touched by a frost.
Half-hardy Types: Bachelor button, calendula, cosmos, lobelia, nasturtium, petunia, phlox, annual poppy, snapdragon, verbena.  These should be sown indoors and planted outside at about the time of your last spring frost date.  These prefer cool growing conditions and can tolerate light frost.
Hardy Types:  Dianthus, larkspur, pansy, sweet alyssum, sweet pea.  These can be directly sown in the ground whenever the soil can be worked or set out seedlings in early spring.  These tolerate cold weather and hard freezes.

Keep Them Blooming!  As much as we gardener’s hate to cut off those pretty flowers, it really is the best thing you can do for blooming bedding flowers. Snip off every bloom as you set the plants into your beds or containers.  This ‘thoughtful’ pinching reminds the plants that they should get back to the business of growing roots and stems, which will result in many more blossoms over a much longer time.

Coat Racks~ Most of us have a back entry or mud room where we come in to take our outdoor gear off.  Here is a really cute & easy project to make hanging up those duds more special.
Materials you will need:
*A board, an old piece of barn wood or something else you like, just so long as it is tall enough to hold your seed packets.
*Enough empty seed packets to cover the length of the board you have chosen.
*Wood glue.
*Modge-podge glue.
*optional- paint.
*Coat hooks.
~Take the board you have chosen and if you are going to paint it, do so now; allow to draw thoroughly.  If you want a rustic look, lightly sand paper off the edges and the center to add a distressed look; be sure to clean off all dust.
~Tack the seed packets on with a bit of the wood glue, just to temporarily hold; Apply the modge-podge over the seed packets to glue on the board- follow package instructions; allow to draw according to instructions.
~Once the glue is totally dry, put the coat hooks on as desired; hang up on the wall of your choice and enjoy your pretty project!

Breakfast Bake
Breakfast is the start of the day, so why not start off on the right foot with a hearty meal to get you rolling.  Here is a yummy recipe using Garden Gates Breakfast Sausage!

1 baguette, torn into bite size pieces
1 lb. package of Garden Gate’s bulk Breakfast Sausage, cooked and drained
10 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup fresh spinach, washed and torn into bite size pieces
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1.  Arrange the broken bread pieces on a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish; top with cooked sausage.
2. In a bowl, beat eggs; add milk, salt, pepper and spinach, mix; pour over bread & sausage.
3. Sprinkle cheese over top of mixture.
4. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, or until golden and eggs are set.

Happy Day,
Jean