What if I told you that your annual geraniums could live through the winter and be back in your garden in time for summer? In this post, I’ll help you do just that by sharing 4 easy options for overwintering your geraniums.
Geraniums (Pelargonium hybrids) are usually grown as annuals, except where the climate is mild enough for them to bloom outdoors all year long as perennial plants in zones 10-11.
If left outdoors after the first hard frost of the season they will die. But geraniums are actually tender perennials that tolerate temperatures of 45°F or higher, and temperatures between 55°-65°F are ideal when growing geraniums indoors.
I’m a self-taught hobby gardener, not a Master Gardener. Everything I share with you on my blog is my personal opinion and things that worked for me along the way.
A Guide to Understanding Geranium’s Grow Cycle
Geranium blooms can steal the show in your garden, but there are some essential things to know to keep them happy, especially as the colder months approach.
Understanding Your Geranium’s Climate Zone
It’s crucial to know your garden’s climate zone. Geraniums are quite adaptable, but knowing your zone helps you plan better. These plants typically thrive in USDA hardiness zones 10-11.
Check here for your USDA hardiness zone.
How Long Can Geraniums Stay in the Garden?
Geraniums can grow in your garden from late spring through to the first frost. They just need plenty of sunlight, well-draining soil, and water to keep them happy.
When to Start the Overwintering Process
When the days start getting shorter, and the temperature starts cooling down, it’s time to start thinking about overwintering your geraniums. Depending on your climate, this can begin anywhere from late summer to early fall. As a general rule of thumb, you want to bring your geraniums inside before the first frost arrives.
Overwintering Geraniums is Cost Effective
Geraniums are one of my favorite flowers to grow in containers and window boxes. They are so easy to care for and give you the perfect pop of color in your garden throughout late spring and summer.
I used to spend well over $300 on annual flowers in the garden each year. But by overwintering my geraniums, I’m saving a great deal of money.
Not only am I able to save my geraniums for the next growing season, but I’m also starting new plants from the cuttings of my older plants.
How to Winterize Geraniums: 4 Easy Methods
If your garden is like mine, and you have an abundance of geraniums (I’ll be overwintering 178 plants this year), it’s most likely worth it to overwinter your plants.
However, if you only grow a few plants each year, buying new geraniums in the spring might be more cost-effective and less time-consuming.
How many plants you can actually overwinter will depend on how much space you have, and if that space will stay warmer than 45°F throughout the winter months.
Here are the four overwintering options I’ll be sharing with you in this post:
1. Overwintering Geraniums in Pots
This is the way I store my geraniums because I’m able to keep them in my heated greenhouse (no cooler than 45°F) all snug and safe for the winter. I’ve had very good luck with this method for 3 years now.
But the good news is you don’t have to have a greenhouse. You can keep your geraniums as houseplants or keep them in a cold frame as well.
Transplanting the Geraniums Into a Greenhouse or Cold Frame
Overwintering Geraniums in Unheated Greenhouse
You can overwinter geraniums in an unheated greenhouse, and it can be an effective way to protect them from the harsh winter weather while providing some insulation from the cold.
This method provides them with a more controlled and sheltered environment compared to leaving them outdoors, increasing their chances of surviving the winter and thriving when spring returns but the plants will need extra protection in instances of extreme cold.
If extremely cold temperatures are expected, you can add some additional protection. Covering the pots with frost cloth or blankets during very cold nights can help retain some warmth.
How to Care for the Transplanted Geraniums
Check on your plants at least once a month during the winter season, and pinch shoot tips. This will prevent any weak growth and will promote branching. Check the soil, and water if needed.
How Geraniums Can Overwinter as Houseplants
Another great option for overwintering your geraniums is to bring them into your house. They’ll need a sunny location, with temperatures at 55-65° F. They should be dug up out of the ground and transplanted into containers about 6 weeks before the first frost of the season. Trim back any excessively long roots.
Use a potting soil mix for your potted geraniums. Cut back 1″-3″ to half of the plant, and remove any dead or diseased parts of the plant. Check for pests, and apply an insecticide spray specifically for plants that are being transitioned indoors. Keep your plants moist, and pinch back any shoots. Fertilize lightly in the spring.
2. Dormant Bare Root Storage
Geraniums are very different from most annual flowers because of their ability to survive for most of the winter without soil.
If the geraniums are stored properly to prevent disease, they can survive extended periods of dryness due to their thick, succulent-like stems.
How to Store Geraniums
Care for the Geraniums in the Dormant State
How to Revive Geraniums After Dormancy
3. Take Cuttings from Outdoor Geranium Plants
A geranium “cutting” refers to a portion of a geranium plant, typically a stem or a branch, that is removed from the parent plant to grow a new, independent geranium plant from it. These cuttings are often used for propagation, allowing gardeners to create multiple geranium plants from a single parent plant.
If you have limited indoor space, or you want to multiply the number of plants to grow for next year, taking stem cuttings from a geranium plant is a great option.
Geraniums are extremely easy to root as cuttings, even without a rooting hormone. The baby plants take up less space than bringing the mother plant indoors, and the new plant will probably have even more blooms next season.
Take some cuttings from your existing plants and put them in water or a special soil mix to let their roots develop. Once they’re ready, move them to small pots or containers. Keep them in a place where they can get sunlight, and don’t forget to keep an eye on their humidity levels.
To learn more about starting new plants from stem cuttings, my blog post How to Start Geranium Cuttings will give you step-by-step instructions. This is one of the easiest ways to overwinter geranium plants.
The longer you keep your geranium plants, the woodier the stems get and the less they will flower. It’s a good idea to start new cuttings from existing plants for this reason alone.
4. Overwintering Dormant Geraniums
Overwintering full-size, dormant geranium plants is like hibernating the plant for the winter and then waking it back up for spring.
Steps to Overwintering Dormant Geraniums
Reviving Dormant Geraniums
Tips for Replanting Geraniums after Winter Storage
Common Questions Avout Overwintering Geraniums
Can I Leave Geraniums Outside Over Winter?
Whether you can leave geraniums outside over winter largely depends on the climate in your region and the specific type of geranium you have. Geraniums are not frost-tolerant plants, so they can be damaged or killed by freezing temperatures. However, there are some things to keep in mind:
Can I Overwinter Geraniums in Garage?
Yes, you can overwinter geraniums in a garage, and it can be a good option for protecting them from freezing temperatures during the winter months.
Can You Bring Geraniums Indors for the Winter and They’ll Still Grow?
Yes, you can bring geraniums indoors for the winter, and with proper care, they can continue to grow and thrive as indoor houseplants.
How Long Do Geraniums Live Indoors?
Geraniums can live indoors for several years if they receive proper care. With the right conditions and attention to their needs, indoor geraniums can remain healthy and continue to thrive for an extended period.
How Often Should You Water Indoor Geraniums?
Comparing the Options for Overwintering Geraniums
Winter doesn’t have to mean the end for your geraniums. By choosing one of these four simple methods, you can ensure their survival and prepare them for a healthy new year.
Each option has its pros and cons. Bringing geraniums indoors gives you complete control over the overwintering process while creating new plants can give you less woody options and more blooms.
Storing geraniums in a greenhouse offers a balance of protection and natural conditions. Your choice will depend on what suits your space, climate, and preferences.
By overwintering your geraniums, you will give your plants the best chance of survival during the cold winter months. With a little bit of planning and the proper care, your geraniums will be sure to come back healthy and blooming in the spring.
What I love about this is the fact that almost any level of a gardener can implement at least one of these easy options to make overwintering geraniums work for their own circumstances.
I hope this has given you the inspiration to try to overwinter your geraniums or even just a few of them. Out of the different ways of overwintering, which is your favorite method? I would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below.
Until next time,
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