“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.
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- Be sure to take green stems that are not woody or old, and at least 4 to 6 inches in length.
- Be sure to remove any flower stems & buds.
- 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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