Annual geraniums (Pelargonium hybrids) are amazing—they grow and bloom beautifully from spring to frost without a lot of fuss. Then you dig them up in fall, put them in a cardboard box or a paper bag to store over winter and these tough little plants will take off and grow again the following spring. Here's how to save your geraniums over winter so you can enjoy them year after year.
How to overwinter your geraniums
Step one — Get geraniums out of the ground
Dig geraniums in fall before a hard freeze and shake the soil from the roots — no need to wash the roots or remove every bit of soil. Set the plants in a shady spot and let them dry for a few days. This will help avoid mold or mildew during storage. The leaves will shrivel and dry up eventually. As you check on the plants every month or so during winter pull those out of the bag and throw them away.
See also Flowers & Plants
Step two — Store your geraniums over winter
Storing geraniums for winter is super easy — you just put them in a cardboard box or a paper bag and close the top. Here are some tips to improve their survival:
- Keep your geraniums in a cool, dry location, at about 50 to 60 degrees F.
- Check for mold about once a month and remove dried leaves from the box.
- At the same time do a quick check of the stems — they should be firm. If you find shriveled, dried-out stems, throw them away.
- Soak the plants in water for a few minutes if you notice that plants are getting super dry and crispy.
- Dispose of plants or cut off any stems that are black or mildewed looking.
Traditionally, you store geraniums upside down in the bag. No one is quite sure why, but one theory is that it forces the moisture downward into the stems. Whatever the reason, it doesn't hurt and might help to store them this way.
See also How To
Step three — Pot up overwintered geraniums in spring
It's time to pot your geraniums 6 to 8 weeks before the last average frost date in your area. Pull the geraniums out of the bag or box it's been sitting in for the past few months and tidy up the plants — snip off any extra-long roots, and cut the stems back to healthy green growth,as you see in the inset. This one was only about 4 in. long by the time it had been cleaned up.
Then fill a container with premoistened potting mix and tuck the stem deep enough that two leaf nodes are below the mix—that's where new roots will emerge.
See also Container Recipes
Step four — Get geraniums growing
After potting up your geraniums, you should see new growth in 7 to 14 days. The real key to making this work is to water cautiously, only when the soil dries out about an inch down. In 4 to 6 weeks, the plants should look like the one above and you can start to harden it off to transplant outside.
See also Plant Guide
Want to watch the process?
Watch the video from our archive where our former gardener, Marcia, walks you through the simple process of saving your geraniums over the winter.