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WINTERING GERANIUMS

Au Gres, MI(Zone 5a)

How do you winter your geraniums??? I know there are several different ways that gardeners do this. Please share yours...

Deann

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I'm guessing you mean Pelargoniums = zonal geraniums http://images.google.com/images?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=1G1GGLQ_ENUS342&q=pelargonium&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=V5LESsf7DsfU8Aa3nLk1&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4 (typically red, white, pink, orange, etc.) and not perennial geraniums (Cranesbill), which is just left in the garden all year long.

For my zonal geraniums I cut them back, bring them inside to a sunny window and water very infrequently. Don't fertilize at all until new growth begins with longer days in February to March.

Too much water will kill them.

Many of ours are 18 years old.

Keep an eye out for half eaten leaves - could be that nasty little caterpillar so eliminate him if you find him.

Flora, IN(Zone 5a)

Last year I pulled about 20 up cut them back some (to manageable size) and hung them upside down in the basement. Had about 70% survival rate. the basement was warmer than optimal.

Saugerties, NY(Zone 5a)

I bring mine in, cut back most of the leaves and put on the coldest window sill I have and water a little,maybe once a month til spring. Mine is 5 years old now :>) Mine is a young-in compared to pirl's
Christine

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

Do any of you overwinter ivy geraniums? Their stems aren't as fleshy, which makes me think they would need to remain in active growth rather than allowing them to go completely dormant. I really like the ones I got from a co op this spring, would definitely like to keep them.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

You can't lose by trying, Neal!

W of Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

When you "cut them back" to bring inside, do you mean all the way back, or just trim them short? Last winter was the first time I tried and I only cut the tall pieces back. They bloomed inside a couple of times (not profusely, but one or 2 blooms each time). I thinking that they probably shouldn't be doing that. They did ok outside this summer.

Thanks,
Dathen

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

You did it right!

Cut them back, as you did, and use only the tip cuttings for more plants but let the cuttings rest on your kitchen counter for a day to "heal over" before you plant them. I'll take photos later since I was doing just that yesterday. A sunny window is your best bet for rebloom.

W of Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

Thanks, Pirl!! I had no idea that you could plant the cuttings. I just looked at them and decided that I really hated the thought of them getting frozen, so decided to take them inside. I really was surprised when they stayed alive all winter. Pictures would be great.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Even if you threw out the cuttings, if you can find them they are suitable for planting. You do not want the woodier sections - just green and ONLY the tip cuttings.

Here's a collage showing at top the planter box with the cuttings at the right, top. Then a close up of the cuttings and lastly where I've planted the cuttings and given it a good thorough soaking twice. It will come inside later and probably not get watered again for a month but it will be in an unheated indoor sun room/porch.

Thumbnail by pirl
W of Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

Good, clear pictures, Pirl. I can see that you're only using the "tender tips". Bury a leaf node or two in the potting mixture? Regular potting mix? I have unheated garage and basement but neither get much light? Is that ok, or will they need some kind of light going? Bet I could close off one of the guest bedrooms and keep it cold if I have to :)

I really appreciate the help. It is going to be so much more fun to watch my own grow next summer.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Yes - the tips. Yes, bury one or two nodes. Some people only root in sand but I do use Fafard mixes with great success. Even any soil less mix will work. They don't require cold - it just happens to be what I have on the porch.

In the kitchen a big vat of them goes on year after year (in unimproved soil - they don't like rich soil) and the kitchen is 65 minimum at night.

You could put them in a guest room, with or without heat, by a sunny window, and use upturned pots for support if you need to raise them higher. They will need sunshine.

W of Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

Oh, this is good. My dining room is all windows on two sides and has lots of room for plants, so this will work out great. I won't have to chill down the guest rooms :)

Thank you, Pirl.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Great! I'm so happy I could help.

Even if all the cuttings don't take you should have enough and more than what you planned!

In April you can start feeding it at half strength.

Au Gres, MI(Zone 5a)

pirl

Thank you and everyone else who gave me so much information.

Deann

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Good luck. It's fun to watch your own cuttings growing and blooming.

Just remember more plants are killed by over watering than any other cause. Geraniums do not want much water.

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

Clay pots work well for Pelargoniums (tender geraniums)- they're porous and dry out quickly, great if you have a tendency to overwater.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

My darling daughter is prone to drenching plants that only need a sip. She came over to water when we were on a long vacation in winter and I'm amazed the plants lived though the watering.

Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

always count on the kids to mess up and mean well while trying

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9a)

Is there anything you do nor know Arlene????I am also getting ready to bring in mine and I would have done it all wrong. They actually do well here in the winter outside but are pretty well beat up from the August/September heat.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thousands and thousands of things, Sharon, but I love learning. As it usually happens I've learned more from my mistakes than from my successes.

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

You seem to be the person of the hour to ask here, just a couple of questions Perl.

I really don't want to keep my old Geranium containers because they are large hanging pots and I don't have the space to keep them. I would keep one of them to root out the new stem cuttings. I unpotted them and shook out the excess soil from the roots, making several stem cuttings as I went. Are the plant stumps with roots attached worth keeping for transplant or storage until Spring? How about the large amount of stem cuttings I now own, can they be easily mailed to others? Do they have to be hardened off or "healed" first?

You've been a great help already on this thread, thanks for the info!

Al

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

You could use small pots and the cuttings you have, along with fresh mix like Miracle Gro or Fafard (my favorite), to get them growing after you allow them to heal over for a day or more. ONLY tip cuttings are desirable for growing, not the cuttings in between the tip and the stub.

I've never sent cuttings but there's no need to wrap them in wet paper toweling as you would for coleus. I'd wrap them in several layers of newspaper in the hopes the cold wouldn't bother them but I doubt it will. The leaves definitely will yellow but they can be removed and the youngest leaves should easily survive the trip.

You can keep the stubs of the mother plants. Just re-pot them, as above, and put them in a sunny window. Go very easy on the watering.

The alternative method is to put them in a paper bag and hang them upside down from a clothes line in a basement but I've never even tried it.

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9a)

Arlene, in the SW there are few basements. To much hard pan. The majority of the time you would need a bomb to get through it.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Since Al lives in Hornell, NY I felt he might have a basement, Sharon.

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

I do have a basement, it's fairly dry with a constant winter temperature of 50 - 60 degrees or so. Next to nothing for sunlight down there, though. The stem tips I have are 4"-5" long, look like your photo and I now have plenty of them! Looks like they were originally planted 5 tips for each hanging basket. Got a few to send out if anybody wants them.

Okay - last question Perl. Do you use a rooting hormone powder for your stem tips or just put them in the soil mix?

Thanks so much for your help.

Al

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Perfect basement conditions and they need no light (the mother plants in brown paper bags) since they'd be dormant.

For the cuttings you want to raise in sunlight:

You can use rooting hormone powder and I do have it but don't use it. At least 75% should make it without the powder. Beware! Any older leaves will look awful and yellow up rather fast. Do not be discouraged - it's nature's way. Just remove them.

Good luck, Al.

Flora, IN(Zone 5a)

Check out today' s article on geranium winter storing.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

So how are everyone's geraniums doing? Any losses?

I have lost a few cuttings but finally (!!!) I'm past the yellow leaf stage. I never expect much growth until early February.

W of Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

Pirl,

I was just getting ready to post here!! Mine are doing really well - except I don't know if this is good - these little babies are blooming. Should they be doing that? The mama plants, which I cut back pretty severely, are blooming better than they did outside. What to do?

Dathen

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Enjoy them! They'll eventually lose the flower but you can enjoy it or cut it off. At this season I need every flower I can get! Some people do cut the flowers from the newly rooted plants, just so you know. They believe it saps the energy to form roots and they're probably right. I just have enough cuttings to enjoy whatever happens.

I'd absolutely leave the flowers on the mother plant!

W of Cleveland, OH(Zone 5a)

Thanks, Pirl. I have to admit that this tray of babies with the blossoms looks pretty. I was a little of afraid of the energy from the roots things too, but figured they had plent of time to root and they are very nice and green. I'm leaving all blooms to enjoy. Thanks!

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

I did mine two ways.

First cut off the green tips for a semi dry transplant in Jiffy rooting soil. They don't seem to be doing much, but are alive I haven't killed them just yet. Some of the stems are growing tiny leaves on top, though I might lose a few others.

The other bunch I shook the old soil off to store the dry bare roots in my cool cellar. These have dried off nicely and some are sprouting a few little green nubs around the main stems. They have been completely dry with no water since I shook them out. I don't know whether they can be repotted now or should I wait until Spring?

Thanks for keeping in touch with this.

Al

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Good job, Dathen!

I love experimenting, Al. It's up to you if you have the room and can care for them during winter you could pot them up to enjoy or you could wait for spring. Good luck! Those tiny nubs should turn into stems or leaves. They'll be so tiny it's hard to believe you'll have big healthy blooming plants in June, right?

Ralph Snodsmith, on radio, says tip zonal geraniums are best rooted in sand. I've just never tried it.

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9a)

Pirl, did he say what kind of sand. We are finally down in the 60s so I am getting ready to take clippings from two that I have. The large group I have bloom their heads off this time of year through February. All my geraniums are in pots. They are in the courtyard and get warm sun for about 5 hours and are protected from our winter high winds. I have to go the nursery today. so I will look around in the specialty potting mixes, they probably have sand. I am done for this week on my other cutting so I need to get the rest going. My garden garage looks like a greenhouse.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I know it's not play sand. I'd guess a horticultural grade of sand would be the thing to use.

Moundridge, KS(Zone 6a)

Pirl, your picture collage looks like you've planted your cuttings lengthwise in the potting mix. Are my eyes making that up or is that how you do it? I was assuming you'd poke the cut end in, but I've never tried it so obviously don't know. We're just now to have our first hard freeze tonight, so I've got cuttings hardening as you advised. I'm just not sure how to place them in the potting mix. Thank you so much for all your wonderful directions!

Willow

This message was edited Nov 25, 2009 4:20 PM

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Sorry, Willow, that was just taken with the cuttings on their sides to show they were hardening off for a day or two before planting them exactly as you described. Just don't over water!

Good luck.

They may look awful for even a month and old leaves may yellow. Just remove them. Mine are now looking good (not terrific or great but good).

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9a)

I did get my sand and another soil less mix for cutting that had sand, perlite and few other ingredients. I have not cut back the geraniums yet because our weather is still in the 60s. I have been on a new adventure of worm casting compost tea. And then I have the coleus cutting that are doing fine but I have to keep myself from watering. Busy but having a blast. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Many times my geraniums have made it through a few frosts with no permanent harm at all. I still have several in the garage waiting for my attention but I've been crazy busy in the rose garden.

I really want to start a bin for vermicomposting! Maybe next week I'll get started.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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