I would like to dig up my geraniums and overwinter them. What is the best way to overwinter them?



There are several ways to overwinter geraniums.  I havedone it three
ways: I  dug them up and brought the whole plant in and watered it,
taken cuttings, and stored them bareroot in a potato pit--this last way
didn't work well for me because it got too cold.    For convenience
sake, I copied an internet article and pasted it below which goes into
detail of how to store them.

Storing Them Dormant
Often you will read or hear about storing geraniums bare root and
dormant in the basement over winter. The success of this method depends
on the place you store them. When people had cold cellars or pump rooms,
it worked quite well. Temperatures were cool and humid then. Most modern
basements are much too dry and warm. But if you want to try this method,
just dig up the plants before a killing frost in the fall. Cut the
branches back about half way. Remove as much of the dirt from the roots
as possible. Do this carefully because geraniums are rather brittle. At
this point, they were traditionally hung from the rafters until spring.
If you don't have rafters, you can bag them separately in paper grocery
sacks. Leave the sacks open for ventilation.
Check your plants every month or so to see if they are getting too dry
and shriveling. If necessary, spray them with water. If they get so dry
the stems begin to shrivel, take them out and soak them for an hour or
two in tepid water. Remove them from the water and allow their surfaces
to dry before putting them back in the paper bags. Plants that have been
overwintered in this manner may take several weeks to begin growing
again in the spring. Soak the geraniums for several hours, roots and
all, in water that contains a transplant fertilizer mixed at half
strength. To get an early start, you can pot up the plants indoors
several weeks before the last frost and transfer them into the ground
later. When planting directly outdoors, be sure to wait until after all
danger of frost is gone.

Keeping Them Growing
Geraniums do well as house plants if you can provide them with a cool
location and lots of light. Dig them up and pot them just before a frost
occurs and cut them back. Check the plants over carefully to make sure
they are free of insects or disease. Wintering indoors is stressful;
only take indoors plants that are in good condition. Water the plants
thoroughly when you first bring them in. Geraniums prefer to stay
relatively dry compared to most plants.

It is possible to take cuttings instead of bringing in whole plants. A
cutting is simply a piece of the mother plant. For best success, use tip
cuttings. Cutting off the last 3-5 inches of a branch makes tip
cuttings. Remove any flower buds that may be on the cutting, also remove
leaves from the lower half of the cutting. To help promote fast rooting,
dip the cut end of the geranium into a rooting hormone. Place the
cuttings about two inches deep in a clean pot filled with Bachman’s
Mighty Earthä potting soil.

The cuttings should be rooted in individual pots. Place a clear plastic
bag over the cuttings and pot. For the first few weeks, keep the
cuttings in good light, but out of the direct sun. The potting soil
should stay evenly moist. After 3-4 weeks the cuttings will have
developed strong roots. After they have begun to root, remove the
plastic bag and give the cuttings stronger light. When you begin to see
new growth, move them to a cool, sunny location and feed monthly with a
water-soluble fertilizer such as Bachman's Mighty Bloom™ at half
strength. If you don't have adequate light indoors, geraniums do very
well under fluorescent or incandescent plant lights. Given enough light,
geraniums will develop into well-branched, strong plants by spring. If
light is not adequate, they may tend to grow rather tall and spindly.
Remember, geraniums like it on the dry side.

Posted on 1 Oct 2008

Pat Fugal
Horticulture Assistant, Master Gardner, Utah County

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