Here’s more practical gardening advice from our friend and colleague, HerbDoc:
A check of the calendar indicates that October 4th is the date of the Harvest Moon this year. It always reminds me that frost is imminent and that all of the plants I want to save should be moved indoors.
Keeping geraniums from one year to the next provides color for the house during the winter months and saves money the following spring. My grandmother always dug up her plants, shook the soil from their roots and hung them from the root cellar rafters. She then replanted them in pots early in the spring and put them in the bright windows of her barely heated sun porch until they could go out in the spring. Her geraniums were always immense and had blossoms earlier than any at the local nurseries.
I tried her method several times, but the temperatures in today’s basements tend to be higher than the 50 degrees in the root cellar, and they are definitely too dry. In order for this method to be successful, I had to take the plants down, soak them for several hours, and then rehang them. Too much work!
I’ve found that taking cuttings and rooting them before frost is much simpler. The cuttings, or slips, should be 4-6 inches long with the bottom 2 inches of leaves removed. Dip the ends in rooting hormone powder and place in damp coarse sand, vermiculite or well drained potting soil. It takes three or four weeks to root these under my lights, but it is also successful in a bright (not sunny) window.
Another very easy way to keep these plants is to pot them up in 5 or 6 inch containers. Cut back to about 1/3 of the original height, water well and place in cool, sunny locations or under lights. This works especially well with those very expensive scented geraniums. I’ll take a few hours now to bring these beauties in and will save money with which to buy different plants next spring!