Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Grow Geraniums Over the Winter

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Geraniums are one of the most popular container and garden plants. You just can’t beat their bright colors and sturdy, well-shaped foliage. At the garden center, geraniums tend to come in larger sizes, which make them more expensive than other summer annuals.

Unlike many of their peers, geraniums can easily be stored over the winter and enjoyed again next year. So if you hate to see your lovely geraniums killed by frost this fall, here’s how to go about overwintering them indoors.

Methods of Overwintering Geraniums

There are three ways to make geraniums last through the winter:

  1. Overwinter inside as potted plants.
  2. Store the dormant, bare roots.
  3. Propagate cuttings to make new plants.

Geraniums as Indoor Potted Plants

The easiest way to keep your geraniums over the winter is simply to bring them inside. Here’s how to go about it:

Fall:

  • Before the first frost, carefully dig up your geraniums and pot them in 6”- 8” diameter containers, with lightweight potting soil. If yours are already in containers, you get to save a step! Don’t bother keeping any that look unhealthy or diseased.
  • Cut the plants back by a third to a half. Save the cuttings and root them to make more geraniums!
  • Water the pots thoroughly.
  • Place the pots in a bright, cool spot. Geraniums overwinter best in a sunny window with temperatures around 60° F. They don’t do well in dark or overheated rooms.

Winter:

  • Over the winter, pinch back the tips of new shoots to help them branch out.
  • Water the cuttings whenever the soil becomes dry.

Spring:

  • Fertilize your geraniums in mid-spring.
  • Move them back outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. You can keep them in their containers, or plant them back in your flower beds.


Geraniums are perfect for window boxes, but can’t survive freezing weather.

Overwintering Bare-Root Geraniums

Geraniums have nice thick roots and stems that allow them to survive winter dormancy if kept above freezing. You can also allow geraniums to go dormant and store them as bare roots. Follow these steps:

Fall:

  • Before the first frost, carefully dig up your geraniums, and shake all the dirt off the roots.
  • Put them in unsealed paper bags, or hang them upside down, and store in a cool, dry place around 50° F (a garage is perfect).

Winter:

  • Every month or so, pull your geraniums out and soak the roots in water for a couple of hours.
  • Allow them to dry before storing again.
  • The leaves will eventually all fall off, but the stems should stay firm. If the stems shrivel up too, the plant is likely a goner!

Spring:

  • Inspect your geraniums early in the spring.
  • Remove any shriveled sections.
  • prune them lightly, cutting off any dead tips.
  • Soak the roots for a few hours in water mixed with a little plant food.
  • Plant the roots in potting soil and water thoroughly.
  • Place your potted geraniums in a sunny window, or under a grow light. They might take a few weeks to wake up and start growing!
  • After all danger of frost has passed, you can move them outdoors.


Geraniums can also be rooted from cutting using rooting hormone.

Propagating Geraniums From Cuttings

The last option is to say goodbye to your original geraniums and nurture new ones grown from cuttings. Here’s how:

Fall:

  • Using a sharp knife or shears, cut pieces about 3”- 4” long from the ends of the branches. The best cuttings come from the terminal end (the very tip end of the stem), rather than a side branch.
  • Pinch off the leaves from the bottom third of the cutting, and remove any flower buds.
  • Dip the bottom of each cutting in rooting hormone, making sure to dust the wounds where you removed the leaves.
  • Plant the bottom third of each cutting in peat moss, sand, or perlite. You can use individual pots or plant them together in a tray (plastic planting trays are available with a clear cover to hold in moisture).
  • Place the pots on a drainage tray and water thoroughly, ideally from the bottom up (fill the tray with water and allow it to soak to keep from washing away the rooting hormone).
  • Cover your pots with clear plastic, or use the cover that came with the tray.
  • Place in a bright window out of direct sun. Your cuttings need light, but they can’t handle the direct sunshine.

Winter:

  • Keep the planting medium moist by soaking in the drainage tray, or removing the plastic cover and lightly misting the plants and soil.

Spring:

  • Your cuttings should root in 6 to 8 weeks. By early next spring, you can to move them to their own pots with regular potting soil.
  • Fertilize your new plants, and pinch back the new stems in order to make them branch out.
  • Move the pots to a sunny window until time to plant them outdoors.

Further Information



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10 Comments on “How to Grow Geraniums Over the Winter”

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  1. Margaret Durkin Says:
    October 29th, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I was wondering, do I need to bring my big containers in
    for the winter? They are filled with dirt and I wondered
    if the freeze would ruin them. I live in Ohio and we usually get very cold weather each winter.
    I appreciate finding out how to store them.
    Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. gerri Says:
    October 24th, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I live in Zone 5 in OHio – I have been told, I can bring my potted geraniums into the garage and they will survive winter. Just cut them back in spring and bring them out again and they will survive. I haven’t been able to find any info on line about doing this. Please advise! Thank you

  3. Official Comment:

    Julie Day Says:
    January 18th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Gerri, the garage might work, depending on how warm it is, or you can bring them into the house. But you can definitely store geraniums in pots over the winter – see instructions above.

  4. tiffany Says:
    August 26th, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I want to plant geraniums outside. I live in Sacramento, CA and it is almost September. Will they make it thru the winter season? It usually doesnt freeze around here…

  5. jamroz Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 12:05 am

    you have explained to save geraniums in winter but i have lost my geraniums in hot summer.tell me how to save them in hot season because it is costly to buy them again and again.

  6. Evelyn Says:
    April 24th, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    I kept my large plant indoors during the winter. It has some longer limbs and is not a good shape. I want to remove some of the nice ones about a foot long on sides etc. but want to know if I should put in water to root first or can I just plant in pots and they will root that way. I have some I had in the garage in pots during the winter that just needed watered and fed and are in good shape. I am an amateur gardener. Thanks.

  7. Bonnie Weyrick Says:
    May 9th, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Last year I got several geraniums for outside for my birthday in April. Over the winter I kept some…the ones I could carry and a few on the front porch. The only advice I got was not to water them. Well all of them look dead,dead, dead!

    I live in Oregon and this was a cold winter ( live on the coast) I’m not a gardener, in fact when a new plant I look at it and say…”welcome, you have come here to die!!!

  8. Evelyn Says:
    May 10th, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    IF I CUT THE STEMS OF THE GERANIUMS THAT I KEPT THROUGH THE WINTER DO I TRY TO PUT IN WATER & GET ROOTS AND THEN PLANT OR CAN I JUST PUT SOME IN A POT AND KEEP WET WILL THEY GROW WITHOUT IF KEPT INSIDE FOR AWHILE. OUR WEATHER IS ONLY IN THE 60′S & LOW 70′S. Idaho WEATHER. THANKS FOR THE HELP.,

  9. Ellen Says:
    October 10th, 2014 at 7:22 am

    I have had good luck cutting my geraniams back, storing them in a cool garage cover erred with a paper bag. No watering all winter. They have done well. Is that just luck or a valid way to go?

  10. Helen Griebel Says:
    November 11th, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I received a large geranium plant this summer. I have never seen one grow so large, all in all I had 49 flowers on it they just keep growing, and still is. I just cut it back about 4 inches for the winter. I thought I would store it in my basement. so can I still keep it growing all winter, or should I let it rest. there are still blooms on it, and many buds yet to come. thank you in advance for any info.
    Helen

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