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How to: Geraniums Surviving the Winter

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Homeowners and landscapers favor geraniums for their abundant bright blooms and easy care. Though winter frosts will kill geraniums left outside, the plants are easy to care for and keep alive over the winter. Removed from their soil, the plants go into a state of dormancy until revived in the spring. Or you can bring them indoors to enjoy as house plants during the winter months. With proper care, geraniums can live many years and bloom each spring.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Instructions

Things You’ll Need:

  • Garden shears or scissors
  • Shovel
  • Paper bag
  • Water
  • Pot
  • Potting soil
  • Fertilizer
Dormant
  1. Trim the geranium plant with garden shears or scissors. Remove all blossoms and any damaged stems or leaves.

  2. Dig up the geranium. Gently shake the plant to remove excess soil from around the roots.

  3. Place the bare root geraniums in paper bags, one plant per bag. Brown paper grocery bags work well for this. Place the open bags in a shelf in a dark, cool place. Iowa State University Extension Horticulturalist Cindy Haynes says the ideal temperature is 45 to 50 degrees.

  4. Take the plants out of the bags and soak them in a basin of water two to three times during the winter. This allows the succulent stems to soak up water. After the plants have soaked for two hours, remove them from the water, shake off excess water, and replace them in the bags.

  5. Remove the plants from the bags in March or April. Discard any that have shriveled stems. Plant the rest in pots filled with potting soil. Water and place the pots in a sunny location indoors. New growth should appear in three to four weeks.

     
Indoors
  1. Prune any dead stems and remove all spent flower heads. Cut the plant back to a compact mound. This will help to keep the plant from growing spindly over the winter.

  2. Transplant geraniums from the garden into pots filled with potting soil. Water until water runs freely from the drainage holes in the pot.

  3. Place geraniums in a sunny location away from drafts. Water whenever the soil becomes dry.

  4. Pinch back excess growth periodically to keep the plant from becoming spindly.

  5. Feed with a liquid plant food designed from blooming plants in spring to encourage new growth. Move outdoors to a sheltered location once all danger of frost has passed.

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