11.27.2013

Overwintering Geraniums - A Casual Tutorial


As promised in my post at A Bird and A Bean, I want to show you how to keep the same geranium plants year after year instead of buying new ones every time the garden stores open for business in the spring.

There are probably some containers outside on your patio or porch which have geraniums
waving pathetic and mostly dead stems around in the cold November air. Maybe you even have some geraniums
out in your flower beds that were lovely this summer and fall, but which you now consider a loss -
along with once vibrant impatiens, petunias, periwinkle and lobelia.


You might think it's too late to save them now, but geraniums are a pretty hardy lot, and what do you have to lose? It only takes a few minutes to prepare them for overwintering, and if it works, you'll have geraniums for free next spring. And free is the very best price for any plant purchase!
So here is a very casual tutorial - a scheme to get a few free plants.

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Here's a container with one geranium plant mixed in with other annuals and perennials.
Can you see it pointing up at us? 


Use a hand spade or the blunt part of your trimmers to pop the entire plant out of the pot, roots and all.
Does this photo make my wrist look fat???


Shake off most of the dirt, especially if the soil was very wet.

Trim the stems to about this height.
It's not rocket science, so don't obsess about exactly how much to leave. 
The new growth will erupt right out of the stems that are left.

Pack the  geraniums in a box where they'll have plenty of room for a sleepy winter. Remember - Nobody likes a crowded bed!  The box should close loosely so that a little air can circulate around and keep rot from forming. A friend of mine has great success wintering her geraniums in paper bags. Whatever you have handy is fine.
Go for broke and try both methods! Carpe Diem!

Make sure to label the box and store it in a cool, dry, dark spot like a garage or a basement shelf.  I'll be storing mine in the Maid of Honor dry sink in my greenhouse - someplace I'm sure to look when winter begins to finally fade away. As you can see, it's one of my favorite stashing spots. I meant to use those paper lanterns all summer but never did. I must do that in the spring!
Sometime around the end of February and certainly by the beginning of March, you'll want to get out there and check on them. You might open the box to find new growth already on the stems, but don't think your experiment failed if they look like they're goners.

Go ahead and trim off any dead bits and place them directly in a basin or bucket of water for a few hours to moisten up the roots and jump start their new lives. Then place them directly in some slightly moist potting soil. Leave them in a warm spot, with plenty of direct sunshine. New leaf growth should begin to sprout in about three weeks!

Now you can spend money on a new pair of spring flip-flops instead of buying geraniums! Yippee!



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