Geraniums are grown as annuals by many gardeners due to their sensitivity to cold weather, but with proper winter care, geraniums can be grown as perennials. The easiest and most effective method of keeping geraniums alive through the winter is forced dormancy, a non-invasive technique offering a high success rate with minimal damage to the plant. Forced dormancy helps the geranium to slow its biological functions, allowing it to conserve its energy stores when ideal levels of light, warmth and nutrients are not available.
Things You’ll Need
- Garden trowel
- Pruning shears
- Paper bag
- Dig up the geranium plant. Insert the garden trowel at least 6 inches from the base of the plant to avoid damaging the roots. Lift the entire rootball of the plant from the ground. Brush away the dirt from the roots with a paintbrush.
- Place the plant in a clean planter. The planter must be large enough to accommodate the root ball of the geranium without crowding it.
- Prune the plant back by half. If in doubt about pruning, err on the long side. Cutting off too much may irreparably damage or kill the plant.
- Place a paper bag over the top of the plant to block all exposure to light.
- Place the pot in a dry location with temperatures ranging from 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A garage or covered porch works well.
- Soak the plant in water for one hour every two weeks if it appears to be shriveling or drying out. If soaking is necessary, allow the plant to dry out before replacing it into the planter.