How to Overwinter Geraniums

Photo by: Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson

Geraniums are a favorite flowering plants in the garden, so it’s no surprise many gardeners want to enjoy blooms from the same plant year after year. Whether it’s a color that was grown by a beloved grandmother or a new variety that sets the perfect tone among the rest of the garden’s plants, there are a number of reasons to take the time to overwinter your geraniums. Here are three easy ways to save your zonal geraniums or pelargoniums from one growing season to the next. 

Create New Growth from Cuttings

Propagating is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the blooms of your geranium the following spring. Start by cutting a four- to six-inch piece just above the node or joint on the plant’s stem. Dip the piece in a rooting hormone solution to encourage growth, and then plant it in a small container filled with coarse potting mix. You want this soil to be moist, but not wet. You can plant multiple cuttings in one container if desired. 

Be sure to keep your cuttings in an area where they’ll receive plenty of sunlight, and water the container when the soil begins to dry out. You should start to see new growth and a root system in four to six weeks. From this point, care for the new bloomer as you would a mature geranium, and then pot outdoors in the spring. 

Store the Entire Plant in Your Basement

A second option is to overwinter the entire plant. Storing dormant plants is one of the oldest and most time-honored practices of overwintering geraniums, and it’s fairly simply to do. You’ll start by digging up the geraniums in your yard, roots and all. Shake them off outdoors to get rid of any excess dirt. You’ll then want to cut the stems back to three-inch spikes, and remove any remaining foliage, blooms, or mold. After pruning them, store the geranium stems and root systems in a cardboard box in your basement or a cool, dry area. You can pack as many geraniums into one box as will fit. Check them every few weeks. If you see mold, cut it off to prevent it from spreading from one plant to another. When spring arrives, replant the geraniums in the ground or in containers outdoors and care for them as normal. 

Plant Them in Containers to Enjoy Indoors

Perhaps the easiest way to overwinter your geraniums is to bring them indoors to continue growing and blooming. If you have geraniums that are already potted in containers of a manageable size, then you can simply bring those indoors. If your geraniums are planted in the ground or in giant outdoor containers, place them in small, easy-to-move containers before bringing inside. You’ll want to position them in a spot that gets plenty of light and continue to water as needed. It’s best to bring them inside before temperatures drop to a wintry level to give them time to adjust to the indoor climate and humidity. Note that blooms may not be as vibrant or as prolific during the winter months; however as long as the plant continues to have new growth, its robustness should return in the spring when it is moved back outdoors.