Tuesday’s Tip – Saving Geraniums

I grow a lot of flowers here on our farm. I have large flower beds used as a part of our landscaping and numerous large pots of flowers I use on the deck and porch. I start most of my plants from seed in my basement and eventually move them out to the green house. This is a real cost savings and something I really enjoy.

Today’s tip is about geraniums. Did you know you can save your geraniums from year to year? Geraniums are grown as annuals in most parts of the US, but they are actually tender perennials. There are several methods for saving geraniums.

Over the winter in pots
When saving geraniums for the winter in pots; dig up your geraniums and place them in a pot that can comfortable fit their root ball. Prune the geranium back by 1/3. Water the pot thoroughly and place in a very sunny window in your house.

Make them go dormant
Geraniums will go into dormancy easily, therefore you can store them like you store your tender bulbs. Dig the plant up in the fall and gently remove the soil from the roots. The roots should not be clean, but free from clods of dirt. If you have more than one color or variety you will want to attach a marker to identify the geranium.

Hang the plants upside down in either your basement or garage; someplace where the temperature stays around 50F. Once a month, soak the roots of the geranium plant in water for an hour, then re-hang the plant. The geranium will lose all of its leaves, but the stems will remain alive. In the spring, replant the dormant geraniums in the ground and they will spring back to life.

If your geraniums are in flowerpots, you can store them in the same location as the uprooted plants, in dry cool conditions. Check on them occasionally, and add a little water to the soil once in awhile to keep them barely alive. In the spring, remove the dead areas; place them in a sunny window and start watering. This is what I do.

Cuttings
While taking cuttings is not technically how to keep geraniums over winter, it is how to make sure you have inexpensive geraniums for next year.

Start by taking 3 to 4 inch cuttings from the green (still soft, not woody) part of the plant. Strip off any leaves on the bottom half of the cutting. Stick the cutting into a pot with vermiculite in it. Make sure the pot has excellent drainage. Place the pot with the cuttings into a plastic bag to keep the air around the cutting humid. The cuttings will root in 6 – 8 weeks. Once the cuttings are rooted, repot them in soil. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot till they can go back outside again.

Now that you know how to winter geraniums 3 different ways, you can choose the way that you think will work best for you. Getting geraniums to last over winter will reward you with FREE large lush geranium plants long before your neighbors have bought theirs.

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