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Bring in Some Brightness! How to Overwinter Geraniums

Most geraniums are grown as annuals in climates with harsh winters, but oh how charming they are when they are let to winter-over!

In Europe, overwintering geraniums on windowsills is a tradition. They won’t bloom a lot during the winter, but they will provide some welcome touches of vibrant green and red here and there, and the great thing is, you’ll have the same plant next spring, instead of just tossing it in the compost heap.

Here’s how to overwinter geraniums:

geranium red

Bring them indoors

Try to bring them in before the first frost! Once they get hit with a heavy frost, they won’t really make it, so this is key! I’ve procrastinated bringing them in before and lost them, so pay attention and try to bring them in before it gets too cold.

You can trim them by about 1/3 before you bring them in, I like to do this just with my hands, by snipping off the stems at the node.

Ideally, geraniums like to be between 50-70 degrees F. Keep them near bright, natural light in a south or west-facing window, and keep them away from drafts and heat.

Keeping them potted

Geraniums should be potted into light, potting soil (with soil, sand, peat). Heavy garden soil or clay doesn’t work well for them. Be sure to provide good drainage by using gravel or stones in the bottom of a pot with a drainage hole on the bottom.

Let the geraniums just barely dry out between waterings! Keep in mind, a terra cotta pot will dry them out more quickly then other types, so just be mindful to keep an eye on the soil. Ideally, they should be moist but not wet at all times. Geraniums are at risk of rot if they are too wet, so I normally keep them a little on the dry side.

geranium overwinterWinter care

Always keep them deadheaded so they can produce more flowers. Take off the stem at the node. Don’t use clippers, as geranium’s soft stems are susceptible to disease. Just break them off with your fingers.

If you have temperatures warm enough, let them live outside during the daytime on occasion to get fresh air and sunshine.

Alpine geraniums tend to overwinter the best out of all varieties, but regular zonal geraniums do great too. There’s no need to feed the geraniums in the winter, they’ll be in a semi-dormant state.

Bringing them back outside in the springtime

When all danger of frost is gone, bring your geraniums back outside and fertilize them!

geraniums

If you have a lot of geraniums, you can keep them bare root in a cellar to overwinter, but if you just have a few, or have space in a greenhouse, keeping them in pots is best.

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11 Comments

Annmarie Aiken

I lost all my geraniums except one, 2 years now,usually don’t have this trouble.I always get the zonal kind. Cant wait till greenhouses are open to get some more. Thanks for information. Annmarie

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Dori Hutson

Thanks for the tip.

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Dori Hutson

Thanks for the tip. I love them also.

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Lisa

Should I be trimming the indoor, winter growth before taking them back outside in spring? I tried these steps last year and my geraniums stayed leggy and never had any substantial flower production again.

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Julianne

Lisa~
Yes, you should…but “trimming” should actually consist of snapping off those leggy branches and sticking them right back in the dirt, (and February is the perfect time.) I have a salmon zonal that I got 5 years ago while still living in AK…brought it with me to Mi., and now have 2 huge pots full of it! I keep it in a southern window all winter, and it’s usually the first to go to the porch in late March. Keep it deadheaded, and remove any dead or dying leaves as well. Good luck!

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Shirley

The branches that you break off are able to keep growing when you stick them back in the dirt?

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Mary Smith

I used to work for a wholesale Geranium grower, your advice is spot on..:)

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VA2DQ

7797 907548Thank you for having the time to discuss this topic. I truly appreciate it. I

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Judy Stroetzel

Will impatiens in pots if brought inside do the same as geraniums?

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Christine

They should but they need to be watered when they look wiltie……

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Susan

Impatiens can be brought in, they do get pretty leggy, but I just break off pieces and root them in the spring to go outside.

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