Overwintering geraniums

Port Sanilac, MI

We purchased these lovely geraniums this spring and they have put out a beautiful display. How can I keep them over the winter in the basement while we are away in Florida?

Thumbnail by kays_camelot
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

I grow my pelargoniums here in the winter.

If you can - send one down in a flat rate box or even book rate... or bring one with you.

You can make cuttings from Nov-Feb and then send them back to yourself or the neighbors.

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Dale, just found this thread since I am wondering about my Ivy geraniums and just regular ones. This is the first time I have really had nice plants on both. I live in a very cold climate and have a very short summer season. So, how do I keep my plants for next year?

My basement is very warm, like my house which is warm and dry. I suppose it is strange asking someone living in Florida how to grow my plants here, but it's worth a try. Thanks.

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)


I have never tried to grow any plant in a house. Sometimes I bring them in for awhile....

I can't really offer any advice for your situation.

In general geraniums do best in bright light and cool conditions (60-75) during the day. They don't like being warm at night.

I grow them as annuals, winter annuals and most other folks around here do the same.

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Very pretty Dale. Yes, I have always grown them as annuals also. My sister has them in her greenhouse so I guess you can grow them year round. Or, maybe she starts them from cuttings for new plants each year. I will have to ask her.

Thanks for your response.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

For several years I simply took cuttings. It was incredibly easy. I just took cuttings, removed the leaves and flowers and put them in seed starting mix, I then sat them on the kind of plant trays that you can put on windowsills - in my case facing north and west. I watered them from the bottom to make sure they were not too wet. Here are my geraniums from cuttings the following year.


This message was edited Jun 10, 2014 6:32 AM

Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

And Red Rosebud. You can probably see the flowers of the Black Velvet series, which I grew from seed.

I turned two purchased plants from Select Seeds into about ten pots. It was great!


Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

So Donna, you just waited until they got roots and then planted them? They sure look pretty and healthy.

And you found those to end up as better plants than wintering over the mother plant? Then did you toss the MP?

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I knew that they had taken because, with the light in spring, they started to grow! Then I could make them really dense by putting several cuttings in a single pot. You might lose a cutting or two, but if you have half a dozen in one pot, what the heck? AND I kept the mother plant for insurance. I simply cut it back, left it in its pot and watered it very sparingly. The two Mother plants came through beautifully. So in an attempt to preserve the parent, I would end up with 5-6 plants. Then I would overwinter all of those. It put me in a position in which I could have these lovely things in pots all over the place.

You know, it's interesting, because I kept reading articles that instructed me to put plants in paper bags and hang them upside down and all kinds of contortions. I wonder now if they were written by people in the trade, to discourage the rest of us from doing what I did! Just use seed starting mix, because it has no fertilizer in it.

When you have a very special pelargoniums like yours, it's wonderful to be able to not only preserve it, but propagate it!

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I have had some really nice ones from seed also Donna. I think I got the seed from Summerhill originally. I think I still have some seed unless I gave it away. Maybe I will try some more next year and also take cuttings of the one I have now. So, you don't put them in water. You plant them in a potting soil. I have a seed starting mix but gosh, it seems like it is just a very fine mix of some kind, like nothing but seeds could grow in it. Will try it tho.

Thanks. BTW, you are right 'cause the one I have now are 3 plants planted together. That is the way I bought it. A very nice plant.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Ah, you grow them from seed too?

Actually, I put them in seed starting mix. The catch with potting soil is that it often has fertilizer in it. It used to be that you could find potting mix with no fertilizer in it but those days are gone, at least around here. And it can be a bit heavy. Seed starting mix is nice and light, and for this purpose you don't want the geraniums to grow, just hang in there. I learned (the hard way, of course) that the biggest issue is too much moisture, which leads to rot.

I just love having tons of pots of flowers, or putting them in the ground, and having all that color. Sometimes I get carried away, though. I end up with lots of seed grown heliotrope, cynoglossum, cascade and tidal wave silver petunias. But what fun!

Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Love your stairs. I used to do that with pots of burgundy petunias. So colorful. What are the green spear like plants?

Yes, growing from seed is my favorite way to start plants. But not things that take a year or more to germinate. I hate those. I forget about them and end up throwing them away.

Well, must run, thanks for the picture. I love them for so many ideas.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

The green spear like plants are calla lilies. I grow Crystal Blush, which is delicate and pale pink, and the standard white. When they are finished for the season, I cut back the leaves, withhold water, and throw them in a basement or my closet. They multiply like mad.

I really like the kinds of plants that you can start and see bloom in the same year. Petunias, salvia, heliotrope, cynoglossum, garden balsam. Although I did grow a bunch of platycodon from seed. Some actually bloomed in July from a January start, and I really like them masses, which would be terribly expensive.

Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Those are really neat Donna. I started some blue Platycodones in a container so I will go out and check on them tomorrow. It was dark when we got home and I got on here so it will have to wait.

But yours are taller than mine, and even the white one I grew last year was smaller. Probably because it was in a container too. Are they a perennial or an annual? I think mine from last year, the one plant that grew, got thrown out at the end of the year. My BF has a habit of that. Just helping.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Platys, as I like to call them, are perennial. They are very deeply taprooted - if you pull them up (tough) they look like tiny carrots. They stick around forever, and occasionally they self seed a bit. They do have to be transplanted carefully.They are very tough and can do very nicely without water. And if you deadhead them, they rebloom!

I was inspired because the landscaper put in blue ones, which I just loved.

This message was edited Nov 24, 2011 1:48 PM

Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Those are beautiful. They sure make the lilies stand out don't they? Very nice accent. Mine have not bloomed. But if they get roots like that, they may not bloom since I have them planted in a shallow container. I will have to go look at them again. Haven't seen them in a while.

LOL, maybe they will surprise me and be blooming.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I think that,being deeply taprooted, they may be unhappy in a shallow container. If you can lift the entire container contents and put it in the ground, they may bloom. They are virtually impossible to transplant in the ground, stubborn little devils.

The beauty of the blue one is what made me want to grow the others. The blues are definitely toughest. The pink one are actually sort of mother of pearl (the seed is called perlemutter) and I found they had the lowest transplant rate. The white ones are quite tough.

I just love these plants.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I have never seen any but the white. I planted it and forgot about it until I spotted this small beautiful little flower in the back of my other plants that I had started from seed. I got it out and the tag said what it was. It looked waxy, thick petals. Just beautiful. I am sorry they bloom so late in the season tho.

I just ordered a Rigor Begonia for my sister who is in the hospital for surgery. Do you know anything about them? Are they a tuber, root, non-stop type, or??? How do you start them? Can you take a cutting?

LOL, lots a questions. I have always liked them but never knew anything about them.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I bought a bunch of rex begonias for the campus I worked on a few years back. I found them to be very easy plants to take care of. Most I put near lamps. My guess would be that if rigor begonias are anything like them taking a cutting would be successful, and easy.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I think I was spelling them wrong. Think it is Riegher or maybe without the h? I found one item, now I can't remember where, possibly plantfiles (doubt it tho) that said it is a tuber? If so, they need dto go dormant don't they? I have grown tuberous begonias off and on for years. When the frost hits them I put them away for the winter.

Don't know if these need the same treatment.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

If it's a tuber you can let it go dormant. That's what I do with calla lilies. Sounds like it's worth a shot.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Thanks Donna.

Lima, OH

Wow.....I guess I should have scrolled thru this thread before I posted my question.

Thanks for all the info! I have over wintered geraniums before but they never really did well. I love the idea of cutting off the leaves and flowers and putting in a seeding mix. I LOVE Dave's garden because so much stuff like this is so easy to find!


Oviedo, FL(Zone 9b)

I have overwintered pelargoniums and they did really well in my south facing garden window. I don't buy lots of the bedding ones, just one or two whose color may strike my eye or that have an interesting leaf pattern. I keep them in hanging baskets on my arbor and my fence during the summer, and then pot them up to keep during the winter. They get full sun all day inside and the room, though heated and insulated, doesn't get overwhelmingly hot. You need good drainage in whatever you plant them in and some time release fertilizer like Osmacote. I have one I hope to enter in the Boston Flower show next month if it keeps blooming for me.
I like this picture because you can see the snow on the ground outside the window. the orange colored Pel at the bottom was just finishing its round of bloom when this red one was at peak. It has two flowers on it now and several more buds. Sun is what you need. lots of it.

Thumbnail by gardenmart
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I had a Gardener's Joy from Select Seeds, and it usually keeled over before the season ended. But the one I bought last year must be on steroids, because I simply put it on the floor in front of a southfacing window and it is five times larger. I watered it sparingly. In March I am going to start taking cutting from it and growing them. I'm really surprised. I have enough to make at least ten plants!

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