Winter Storage of Geraniums (Pelargonium)
Photo by Melody

Winter Storage of Geraniums (Pelargonium)

By Lee Anne Stark (threegardeners)November 18, 2011
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Too often I see Geraniums treated as annuals. Allowed to die in the fall and then mulched or thrown in the trash. This is not necessary, a few simple steps and your geraniums can last for years.

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(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 8, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

My grandfather on my mom's side was a gardener. So was his father before him. I remember once when I was a kid being sent into the basement to fetch Grampa. They lived in an old, old house and the basement had narrow little stairs that were hard to navigate even for a small child. The floor was dirt. This was my first time venturing down there and I was nervous to say the least. It was bright, very bright, and had a strong earthy smell. I rounded the corner at the bottom of the stairs and stopped in awe. The entire basement was filled with homemade tables and above every one was a series of lights. It was green down there!! Now I knew why my Grampa spent so much time there in the winter. It was alive with summer things. There was another room down there too and that is where he was. I ducked in and stopped again. The ceiling was covered with hanging, dead looking stems with roots on them. This is the secret I learned and will share with you today.

ImageGrampa always had geraniums in his gardens. Pelargonium x hortorum, the common geranium. Sold in garden centres everywhere, usually for as little as $0.99 cents each. When I say geranium I am speaking of the Pelargonium. There are over 200 varieties of this common garden plant. They are grown for both their beauty and for their tolerance of full sun conditions. If kept deadheaded they will bloom continuously. They like to be moist when it's hot and dry when it's cool. Too much fertilizer will cause too much foliage and not enough flowers. Very easy to grow and available almost everywhere. This is the reason I believe they are treated as a throw away garden plant. Stop throwing them away!!Image

I am saddened every fall when I see piles of these wonderful plants at the dump. My grandfather would be too. It is so easy to keep them over the winter. Zonal, scented and ivy geraniums are the best suited to winter storing. The regals ('Martha Washington', etc.) need special care and cool temperatures to bloom. Regals are best if kept in their pots in a cool room for the winter.

To store garden geraniums over the winter you need to dig them up before the first frost. Shake all of the soil away from the roots. Now you have a couple of choices. First choice is to Imagecut the stems down to about 3 inches. Place them upside down in a paper bag and hang from the ceiling somewhere cool and dry and dark. Second choice is to hang the entire plant somewhere cool and dry and dark. Ideally in the 45 to mid 50'sF range.

Check them once a month to make sure the stems are not getting too shriveled. If they seem to be, then take them out of their bags and soak the roots in warmish water for 1 hour. In March, remove all of the dead branches from the ones you hung up whole and pot them up. The ones you pre-trimmed should be showing signs of growth. Image

My Grandfather always hung the entire plant and I still do to this day. Right about now they are starting to grow new shoots. Those of you living in newer homes with heated basements might have a problem here. If you're lucky enough to have a root cellar that will work too. Crawlspace maybe? As long as the temperature is right.

I know people who plant 30 or 40 geraniums every year. Every fall they throw them all away. Such a waste. With this method of storing them through the winter you could have them for years. This fall, before a frost hits, dig up your geraniums and give it a try. It is so easy and so rewarding. Grandfathers always know best.

Thank you to Happenstance, Kell, kniphofia, mystic and philomel for their wonderful photo additions in Plant Files.


  About Lee Anne Stark  
Lee Anne StarkI am an avid gardener who shares my gardens with 2 other equally avid gardeners. I garden for fun and relaxation, never paying attention to the rules!! During the long, cold winter months I occupy my time playing with over a hundred house plants, my six cats and two dogs.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Are there more plants you can store for the winter? binibusybee 9 150 Dec 12, 2011 5:23 AM
7 year old geraniums :) Weigela2 0 9 Nov 28, 2011 6:07 AM
Geraniums made easy ARWadoo 7 165 Apr 4, 2011 3:16 AM
WINTER STORAGE OFGERANIUMS Frostette 2 135 Oct 27, 2009 11:58 PM
Geraniums Ladybeetle 1 63 Oct 27, 2009 1:03 PM
Another way to overwinter dodges7 2 164 Oct 27, 2009 2:49 AM
as a kid up north wormfood 1 124 Oct 26, 2009 10:10 PM
Something to admire 3pmp 0 27 Oct 26, 2009 9:39 PM
Thanks! DiggerDee 2 36 Oct 26, 2009 9:13 PM
Dragon wing begonias hariwalt 1 60 Oct 26, 2009 6:08 PM
Great tip! Work for Tomatoe Plants? Ladybeetle 0 42 Oct 26, 2009 5:28 PM
Pelargoniums(Geraniums) eclipsedx 0 51 Oct 26, 2009 5:06 PM
Great tips, thanks! gardenwife 6 169 Oct 26, 2009 4:44 PM
Nice article nolainbloom 0 20 Oct 26, 2009 4:39 PM
Store those geraniums scottsmom 0 59 Oct 26, 2009 4:11 PM
Geraniums that bloom all year MaryK_38 2 205 Oct 26, 2009 12:25 PM
Wonderful Info! TijerasTess 1 32 Oct 26, 2009 12:08 PM
Very Timely! sandstreet 1 65 Oct 26, 2008 4:29 AM
Just what I needed! Procrastinator 1 87 Oct 18, 2008 9:09 PM
wintering geraniums misty93 0 127 Sep 16, 2008 7:38 PM
Wintering-over Geraniums Napergal 0 121 Sep 5, 2008 11:14 PM
thank you thank you thank you bonjon 3 113 Sep 2, 2008 11:57 PM
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