3 techniques to winterize geraniums
Did you know that the plants sold in garden centres under the name geranium are in fact garden pelargoniums? Geraniums are hardy, so they can withstand the cold, and have regular, round flowers, whereas pelargoniums are annuals, fear frost and have irregular, vertically symmetrical flowers. Geraniums are generally more rampant and pelargoniums have an upright habit.
Sold as annuals in most garden centres, geraniums (pelargoniums) are found in large quantities in flower beds, flower pots and window boxes. Its beautiful single or double flowers in shades of white, red and pink add colour to any floral design. The geranium is not frost tolerant, so you might think that it should be composted once the season is over. But it is possible to store your geraniums over the winter to use them again for the next season. Three techniques are possible:
1. Bringing the geranium inside
This method is the easiest of all. Simply bring your geranium in before the first frost and treat it as a houseplant all winter long. On the sunniest windowsill in the house, it will spend a few months warm and even produce flowers, less than outside, but still! To do this :
- Dig up your geranium and clean it with an insecticidal soap you can find at a garden center to prevent insects from entering the house;
- Remove all flowers, flower buds and wilted or yellowed leaves;
- Place your plant in front of a sunny window and water when the soil is dry to the touch.
2. Making cuttings
In September, it is possible to take cuttings from geraniums to create new plants from your existing plants before they die back. To compensate for any losses, take about one third more stems than the number of cuttings you want.
Here’s how to do it:
- Choose green, young, vigorous stems. Older ones that are starting to become woody should be avoided.
- Cut the stems between two nodes, which is where new roots will form.
- Remove all flowers, flower buds and bottom leaves and pinch (cut) the end of the cutting to stimulate branching and have full plants.
Image Source : Détente Jardin
- Plant cuttings in the Agromix® Soil Mix for seedlings and sprouts. Make a hole with a pencil and insert your cutting. The more knots buried in the soil, the better the chances of your cutting taking root.
- Place your cuttings in a warm, well-lit area such as a window sill, but avoid full sun. Keep the potting soil slightly moist at all times and avoid using a plastic dome.
- After 4 to 8 weeks, you should see young leaves appear. This is a sign that the cutting is well rooted. At this point, transfer your geranium to a larger pot and place it in front of a sunny window. You can then care for it as you do for houseplants.
3. Inducing geranium dormancy
This technique is more complex and you must expect to have some losses. Dormancy is not natural for the geranium, so it must be forced.
- Dig up the plant and shake it lightly to remove excess soil;
- Remove all flowers, flower buds and wilted leaves;
- Place your plants in a cardboard box or paper bag to keep them out of the light and let them dry completely;
- Place in an unheated (about 5 degrees) and humid place like a garage or root cellar. Many have tried the basement, but it is not cool enough and often too dry;
- If you find that there is mold, remove the problematic leaves and return your plant to the dark;
- In March, bring your geranium out of its dormancy by planting it in the Connaisseur® Potting Soil for Indoor Plants then grow it as is until the warm weather returns and it’s time to put them back outside.
PRO TIP: Acclimatize your plants before putting them out
No matter what technique you use, you must prepare your geranium for its return to the outdoors. In March, when the days begin to lengthen, fertilize your geranium with an All Purpose Plant Food. When the risk of frost is remote, you can start acclimatizing your plant outdoors. Take it outside first in the shade and out of the wind for a few days, then in mid-shade for a few more days before moving it to its final location to avoid sunburn and too much stress.