How to care for geraniums inside during the winter and save them for next year’s garden
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We have finally had our hard frost in eastern Idaho. Many of us try to prolong the blooming flowers by bringing them inside. Geraniums are an ideal plant to bring inside and preserve throughout the winter. If you have brought your geraniums indoors, there are a few things you can do to save them for next year’s garden.
You can start your own geranium cuttings in a potting soil that supplies the structure the cuttings need while allowing for water and air space (a 50:50 potting soil: perlite mix is good). Use a sharp knife or pruners to take the cuttings, making sure they have been properly sanitized between plants. Geranium cuttings will easily root on their own and do not need rooting hormones added during cuttings.
Steps to take cuttings:
- Cut a 3–4-inch section of stem. Cut just above a node (where the leaf attaches).
- Remove the lower leaves, flowering stems, and flower buds, leaving 2-3 of the newest leaves.
- At the bottom of the cutting and just below the last node, cut a 45° angle in the stem to increase the surface area for root development.
- Place in a container with about half the length of the stem below the soil.
- Gently water in the cuttings. Place plastic over the cuttings until roots form.
Roots should start appearing in two weeks. Gently pull on a cutting to feel if there is resistance from the new roots. Open the plastic cover for a day, then remove it. These cuttings can be transplanted in their own pot in a week or two. Come spring, you will have several new germaniums to plant in your garden or planters throughout your yard.
A second method of overwintering your geraniums is as a potted plant. If you have your geraniums in a flower garden or larger pot, trim back the top and remove any dead leaves, gently remove them from the soil ensuring you have most of the root ball, wash all the soil off the roots, and replant them in a pot you can have inside for the winter.
Water thoroughly and place in a sunny spot inside your house. They will need to be watered every two weeks inside. They do best if the temperature is 60-65 degrees during the day and if the temperature can drop slightly at night.
Potted plants may become long and spindly during the winter months. In March, prune it down and it will be attractive throughout the summer.
Bare Root Plants
Our final method of overwintering geraniums is bare root. Bare root involves removing the plant from the soil and removing as much of the soil from the root ball as possible. Allow the roots to dry for a couple of days, then place the whole plant in a brown paper bag. Place the bag in a cool dark place where the temperature will be cool but not freezing (45-50 degrees). The plant will go dormant in the winter. If the roots do not dry out too much, they will last through the winter months. Once a month remove the plant from the bag and spritz the roots with water. When spring comes, remove them from the bag. Remove all dead leaves, check the stems to see if they are still green. Do not remove any new growth. They will give the plant a head start once you have potted them. You can trim off any dead roots or stems at this point. Plant them in fresh soil and water them. You should see new growth coming within a week or two.