By Robin Trott, Extension Educator
Geraniums are a favorite plant of mine. The color of the blooms and fragrance of the leaves transport me to my mother’s and grandmother’s gardens when I was very young. If you have included geraniums in your garden this year, you might be considering bringing them indoors to save for next year’s garden. If so, you have several options for accomplishing this. Geraniums can be overwintered indoors by taking cuttings, potting up individual plants or storing bare-root plants in a cool, dry location. Make sure to do one or all of these before the first frost.
Taking geranium cuttings
Take three-to-four-inch stem cuttings from the tips of the plant. Remove the lower leaves and dip the base of each cutting in a rooting hormone. Stick the cuttings into a pot or flat with drainage holes containing vermiculite or a mixture of perlite and sphagnum peat moss. Insert the cuttings into the growing medium far enough to stand on their own. Water the container after all the cuttings are inserted. Allow the medium to drain for a few minutes, then place a clear plastic bag or dome over the cuttings to prevent the plant foliage from wilting. Place the cuttings in bright, indirect light. They should root in six to eight weeks. When the cuttings have good root systems, remove them from the rooting medium and plant each rooted cutting in its own pot. Place the potted plants in a sunny window or under artificial lighting until spring.
Overwinter geraniums as potted plants
Dig up each plant you want to save, making sure to get most of the root ball, and place in a large pot. Water thoroughly, then place the plants in a sunny window or under artificial lighting. Geraniums prefer daytime temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and slightly cooler nighttime temperatures. Water plants about every two weeks. Geraniums are likely to become tall and lanky by late winter. Prune your potted geraniums in March, removing one-half to two-thirds of each plant. They will begin to grow again within a few days and should develop into attractive plants by May.
Overwinter geraniums as bare-root plants
Carefully dig up the geraniums before the first fall frost. Remove all of the soil from the plant’s roots. Place one or two plants in a large paper sack and store in a cool (45 to 50-degree Fahrenheit), dry location. An alternate method is to hang the plants upside down in a cool, dry location. The foliage and the shoot tips will eventually die. In March, remove all shriveled, dead material and prune back to firm, green, live stem tissue. After pruning, pot up the plants and water thoroughly. Place the potted geraniums in a sunny window or under artificial lighting. Geraniums that are pruned and potted in March should develop into attractive plants that can be planted outdoors after the last frost.
For more information about geraniums and other garden plants, visit: www.extension.umn.edu or contact me at 320-762-3890.
Until next time, happy gardening!
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“I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work” ~Frank Lloyd Wright