Although generally thought of as annuals, geraniums are actually cold-sensitive perennial plants and will last many seasons with proper care. Overwintering geraniums is the main obstacle to keeping them alive for long periods of time, but luckily there are a couple of ways to help the plant survive until springtime. If done properly, preparing geraniums for winter will not harm the plant, although it may cause it to become leggy and require trimming come spring.
Things You’ll Need
- Shovel or garden trowel
- Paint brush
- Sisal twine
- Plastic pot
- Potting soil
- Pruning shears
- Grow light
The Hanging Method
- Dig up the geranium. Create a wide hole to avoid cutting the roots with the shovel.
- Lift the geranium from the hole and gently shake it to remove the dirt. Pick any large and difficult-to-remove clods of dirt from between the roots using your fingers. Brush the remaining dirt away with a paintbrush or other soft-bristled brush.
- Place the geranium root ball in a bucket of water and soak it for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Wind sisal twine around the root ball and tie it in place, leaving a 24-inch length of twine. Create a loop from the long portion of twine.
- Hang the plant upside-down using the loop of twine. It must be stored in a cool, dry place such as a walk-in pantry, garage or closed porch.
- Take the plant down once a month and soak it in water for 45 minutes to an hour.
- As it hangs, the geranium will lose its leaves but will remain alive in a state of dormancy. In spring, plant it back in the ground.
The Potting Method
- Use a pot that can hold the root ball of the geranium. Measure 4 to 6 inches out from the base of the plant to get a good idea of the size of the root ball.
- Fill the bottom of the plastic pot with potting soil. Dig the geranium up and place it in the pot, filling in the edges with additional soil.
- Prune back the stems by one-third, taking care not to remove too much.
- Water the plant thoroughly once a month and place it near a bright, indirect source of light. If sufficient light is not available, place a grow light over the plant for at least 10 hours per day.
- Plant it out in spring and trim away any leggy stems after two weeks.