Save Your Geraniums for Next Year

Red geraniums in a large container in May

When my mother lived in Vienna, Virginia, she grew red geraniums in large containers by the front door. Every fall she would pull the plants out of the containers, knock off the excess soil, and place the plants on a shelf in the basement. There was one small window allowing very little light. Every summer, these plants would come back to life and she never had to purchase more plants. She did this because her mother, who lived in Wisconsin, also saved geraniums in the fall. However, her mother had a sunny foyer. Every fall, her mother would cut her plants back, repot them in smaller containers, and treat them as small indoor plants in the foyer. Both methods worked well. Geraniums can take quite a bit of dryness which is what makes them ideal for overwintering.

If you are growing geraniums consider saving them for next year. Not everyone has a sunny foyer but most people in this area have a basement. For the basement method, this month, before frost, lift the plant out of the container. Shake the soil off and cut off or back diseased parts and the flowers. Let the plant dry for a few days in the shade so that excess moisture will evaporate. Then place the plant in a large paper grocery bag and close with a binder clip.  Store the bag in the coolest place in the basement.

Periodically, check the plant to see if it is getting too dry or, conversely, moldy. If moldy, just cut and throw away those parts.  If too dry, soak the roots in water for a few hours and then dry and put back in the bag. Eventually, the foliage will die off but that is okay.  In the beginning of April, put the plant in a small container with drainage holes. It may look dead but water, warmth, and light should bring it back to life. Water the plant so water runs out of the drainage holes. Place the container in a room such as the living room where it is warmer and lighter than the basement. This will trigger the plant to leaf out again. After the average last frost date (Mother’s Day in Virginia), put the container outside. Put it in shade first in order for it to acclimate to the increased sunlight. Gradually, move the container to a full sun location. You can either pot up the plant into a larger, ornamental container, pot up with other plants in a large container, or even plant in your garden for the summer.

If you have geraniums, now is the time to think about saving them so you can enjoy them again next summer. This method should enable you to enjoy your geraniums for many years to come.

Pink and red geraniums in the landscape in August

5 responses to “Save Your Geraniums for Next Year

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post! I’ll try this with my geraniums this weekend!

  2. Mine live out in the garden, but do get cut back to the ground at the end of winter. They look shabby if not cut back; but no one else does it!

    • Yes people who live in a much warmer area such as yourself can leave their geraniums outside

      • I think they would be nice as houseplants. I like the aromatic foliage. However, with so many redwoods about, it is difficult to find spots that are sunny enough outside, and it is shadier inside.

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