Saving Geraniums

Scented geraniums - still looking good!

Scented geraniums - still looking good!

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!

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About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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12 Responses to Saving Geraniums

  1. marydelle says:

    I go by the rooting method with geranium, too. Very interesting way your grandmother had of dealing with them.

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  2. HerbDoc says:

    It’s nice not to have to purchase new ones every year, isn’t it? I often wish I had a root cellar to try to replicate some of the things my grandmother did. I remember her keeping her dahlias, cannas and glads there too; simply in crates on the dirt floor…and she never lost a one!

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  3. JimmyBean says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

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    • dirtynailz says:

      Wow, thanks for the encouragement. We’re kind of new at this, and we weren’t sure how our blog would be received. Please keep reading and feel free to share your thoughts and comments!

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  4. Kate says:

    Great information. I tried bringing in two last year, in their pots, and lost one. The other is finally looking good, but didn’t bloom much. I’ll try these methods and see what I can get to work. I started seeds last spring, but they take too long to look like decent plants.

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  5. HerbDoc says:

    I find that geraniums seem to like a cool, bright room the best. One year I brought 3 or 4 of them to school with me, and they did great on the windowsill there with very little care.

    As for the seeds, I only plant those that I know I’m not going to find at a local grower or at the Master Gardener sale in May. I also only plant a few of each so I’m not overwhelmed. A heat mat works well to get them germinated and then I put them under the lights where they grow until I can harden them off.

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  6. Peg says:

    I had found 2 large hanging planters of geraniums (are we supposed to be calling them pelargoniums now?) by the roadside of a neighborhood house last fall during my walk. Despite warnings about the risks, I brought them home, and they actually provided decent blooms throughout the winter. I rotated them from a sunny window area in my bedroom to a bright basement window depending on how pretty they looked.

    Once returned outside, they never really flourished this summer. I probably should have fertilized them or repotted. (I’m not big on added fertilizer, mostly counting on compost… which I don’t usually put in my planters) This year I’ll take cuttings and start frexh.

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  7. HerbDoc says:

    They probably would have done better if you repotted them. The soil in pots gets depleted over a growing season even when side dressed with compost. Also when the plants are held over in their pots, they tend to become more woody and have fewer leaves at the base. I think you’ll be pleased with the cutting approach.

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  8. BloggerDude says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read….

    Like

  9. Hi,

    thanks for the great quality of your blog, each time i come here, i’m amazed.

    black hattitude.

    Like

  10. Grandmama says:

    Hi to all …excellent blog….enjoy reading all the time…keep up the great information to all of us.

    grandmama

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  11. HerbDoc says:

    Thanks to all of you who offer comments! I, for one, am truly enjoying providing information, and the comments help to understand what interests the readers. Make sure you bookmark the site and come back often!

    Like

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