There are two very different plants that are called geraniums. The first is the perennial geranium, which is also called cranesbill or true geranium. These can overwinter in the garden. The second plant is the pelargonium often referred to as annual or zonal geraniums. These plants will not survive winter temperatures and must be discarded at the end of fall or stored inside. When prepared properly, red geraniums will go dormant while they are in storage, resuming growth when they are replanted in spring.
Things You’ll Need
- Pruning shears
- Hand trowel
- Paper bags
- Plastic container
- Room temperature water
- String or twine
Storing Red Geraniums in Paper Bags
- Dig up red geraniums two or three weeks before your first hard frost. Choose blemish free, healthy plants.
- Cut back the side branches by half prior to digging up the geranium.
- Shake off as much dirt as possible from the roots. You can use your fingers to gently tease dirt from the roots, but be careful; geraniums are brittle and will shatter with rough treatment.
- Place the now bare-root geranium in a brown paper bag. Each geranium should have its own individual bag. You can use paper lunch sacks or paper grocery bags. Leave the top open for ventilation.
- Store the bagged geranium in a cool, dark location. The temperature should remain between 45 and 50 degrees.
- In one month, fill a plastic container with room temperature water. You will need to soak the geranium’s roots for one to two hours once a month. You can soak multiple geraniums together. Allow the geranium’s roots to dry completely before returning it to its paper bag.
- Re-pot your red geraniums in March. It may take several weeks before you see signs of new growth.
Hanging Red Geraniums
- Select a spot where you can hang your geraniums. It must be in total darkness, cool (45 to 50 F) and have rafters or hooks installed in the ceiling from which to suspend the geraniums.
- Follow steps 1 through 3 from Section 1.
- Cut pieces of string or twine into 20-to-24-inch pieces. Cut enough so that each geranium has its own piece of string.
- Tie the string or twine around the geranium just above the roots. The string or twine should be tight but not so tight that it damages the geranium’s tissue.
- Tie the string or twine around a rafter or hook. The geranium will be suspended upside down. Adjust the string or twine so that the geranium is hanging three to four inches below the rafter or hook. Space geraniums five to six inches apart.
- Follow steps 6 through 7 from Section 1.
Tips & Warnings
Expect your red geranium’s leaves to brown and fall off while it is stored.
If your geranium’s stem appears withered or shriveled; immerse the entire plant in room temperature water for two to three hours. Allow it to dry completely before replacing in the paper bag or hanging it upside down.
Geranium plants that touch other plants during storage are more prone to rot.
Do not store geraniums with apples. Apples produce ethylene gas as they ripen. Ethylene gas can cause bulbs and dormant plants to rot.