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How to Grow Geraniums Over the Winter

By: Julie Day

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.

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

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  • Judi Little Says:
    March 27th, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Didn’t cut plants back/just removed dead leaves this spring. Lots of new sprouts. Do these need to be cut bacl



  • Courtney Says:
    February 10th, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    I have had my pink geranium for 4 years now! I read that they can live up to 40 years!!! I wish I had know this earlier. I brought mine inside in the pot and kept it watered regularly in front of a window that gets loads of afternoon light. I’ve never taken it back outside. It’s now over 2 feet tall and I have another one that is just as beautiful. However, they get heavy any advice on how to keep the limbs supported?



  • Loraine Says:
    January 12th, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    Hi: In October I brought some geraniums into the house and hung them up on a string in a dark hallway that is not very warm. I shook all the dirt off them, cut them back to about six inches and left them there. Last month, (December), I happily noticed that they had some new, tiny green leaves. Tonight, (Jan 12, 2018) I noticed that one of the plants actually has a new tiny red bloom! One other year I noticed the new green leaves but I did nothing and by the time spring came, they were all dead. What should I do?



  • Harriett Says:
    December 30th, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    I have had wonderful luck with my geraniums – After a beautiful summer on my sunny balcony, I bring them indoors to my sun room. I don’t feed them as often as in the summertime, but they sit in the sun, and grow and grow. I water them lightly, and feed them very little – maybe once a month. By Spring, it is time to put them outdoors again, and I cut the large plants down to 3-4 inches at the stems. After a month or so, they are full grown and blossoming beautifully. This is their second winter indoors, and I am already enjoying new blossoms, indoors.



  • Shirley Says:
    November 6th, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    We have been successful at bringing the geranium pots into the heated garage (kept at about 45-50 degrees), before the first frost, stored atop high shelves. We do not trim them back, nor water (maybe once.) Sometimes they stay a little green and sprout new shoots. Or may just go dormant. In the spring, regardless of how they “look”, which is sometimes “dead”, when it’s warm enough, we prune and shape them down to about 2-4″ long, start with some plant growth, and “introduce” them to the sun little by little. We have had “prolific” geraniums, 30-36″ wide and 7 years old! Tip: We live in WI and have noticed that the “ZONAL geraniums” are the most hardy and successful, considering they are labeled annuals!



  • Bridget Van Laanen Says:
    October 25th, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    We have all our plants in big pots that we bring into our insulated garage over the winter; it isn’t heated, but it doesn’t get below zero often unless we leave the doors open. We don’t dig them out or water them at all – they start sprouting on their own and once it is warm enough in April or May and there isn’t much chance of frost, we take the pots back outside and cover at night when necessary. They will get leggy, but all that growth will burn and fall off once they get outside and they should re-establish themselves quite well.



  • Annie Says:
    October 21st, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    I forgot to add that I don’t put them outside in full sun at first. The tender newer leaves can get sunburned so I gradually increase their time in the sun to avoid that.



  • Annie Says:
    October 21st, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    I’ve had success with overwintering as many as a dozen large and huge geraniums at my summer cottage in Door County. Since I once paid nearly $50 for the biggest ones so I wanted to save as many as possible. Before first frost I cut them back as directed and put 2 small plastic kiddie pools in the living room (after rearranging the furniture 😜) and put the pots directly in the pools, in front of a south facing window. They don’t get much direct sun due to the overhang and many trees. I make sure the soil is just slightly moist. The cottage stays around 50 degrees as we “shut it down” until late April or May.

    Our winter caretaker checks them when he comes in to check the house and waters if needed to prevent from drying out. I’ve asked him to rotate the pools once a month but he usually forgets.

    With the opening of the cottage in spring, I usually find them bone dry and looking terrible but I persist and trim off all dead and hollow branches, cut lanky stems to root and move outside after frost. I apply a sustained release fertilizer ( little pellets) and about an inch or more of new potting soil. This year they looked totally pathetic and I was on the verge of tossing them out and starting over, but I’m pretty frugal and thought I’d give them one more chance. I had to go home for a week and when I returned they were looking better but a few were not looking good. However, by mid June they were all spectacular and healthy looking. Cuttings rooted well and my patience paid off. My advice from experience is be patient, cut them back aggressively, use good flower fertilizer and don’t let water sit in the saucers. If I’m not here for a week or more I turn the saucers upside down and set the pots on them that way. They do not like wet feet and the leaves will get ugly. I also spray them because spiders will make webs and other bugs will make holes in the leaves. If I could, I’d post before and after pics because the transformation from winter sad to summer happy was amazing.



  • J McConnell Says:
    April 8th, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Hi there……saw all of these questions and saw no answers after the comments!! Well say, I had my geranium on the unheated porch all winter..don’t think it froze for long, if at all. Here it is early April in the NE, plant is very green, some “dead leaves and stems” which I have removed. Looking kind of long and leggy!! What shall I do to save this beautiful red geranium? Thanks for sharing a response with all my friends here with questions!!



  • Nancy Berg Says:
    January 24th, 2017 at 10:41 am

    We had a very cold night that the weather men completely missed coming, and it froze all of the geranium stalks that were out of the ground and exposed. Some were in pots around the pool and some were in the ground. If I prune off the dead stalks, is there any hope that they will re-leaf from the roots or should they just be dug up and pitched. The several that I have dug up to check, have roots that seem alive and not limp strings. It got down to about 26 when it was not even suppose to freeze. Thank you



  • Frank Hodkinson Says:
    November 6th, 2016 at 4:20 am

    I live in the North of England and the answers/advise I have seen are for America. Winters here in the North are cold. Do I cut them now or in the spring? They will winter in a cold greenhouse.



  • Judy anger Says:
    September 19th, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Will the blooms be as big next spring if I succeed in over wintering my geraniums? Thanks



  • ida hofmann Says:
    January 19th, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    i potted my geraniums, put fresh soil, cut them back, put them in a cool place. when do i start watering, what month before spring?


  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    November 22nd, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Janet,
    You can find information on how to plant amaryllis in a pot in our article on How to Grow Amaryllis Bulbs Indoors at http://www.todayshomeowner.com/how-to-grow-amaryllis-indoors/



  • Janet Says:
    November 22nd, 2015 at 11:17 am

    How deeply do I need to plant amaryrillis bulbs in pot?



  • Sharon Says:
    November 21st, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I love reading the comments but where are the answers?



  • Judi Says:
    October 30th, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Do geraniums “require” a rest period? We have a beautiful geranium (one plant that I just cut off 24 large blooms). We live in the Midwest but go to the Phoenix area over winter and I’d like to take it with us. What special care is necessary?



  • Dianne Varr Says:
    October 29th, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    I live in zone 6, and have a potted geranium plant that used to belong to my brother, who died in his mid 30s in 1995. Hard to believe huh? After my brother passed, my father took up stewardship of the plant, keeping it in a sunny basement window all winter, watering it regularly, and bringing it outdoors in the spring. After my father died last year, I took up the care of the plant. Not having a sunny basement window, or warm-enough garage, I keep the geranium in a sunny family room window where it thrives all winter. It begame a little leggy this summer – this fall I will be diligent with pruning & pinching. I have grown 5 young geraniums from this plant by placing a 5″ branch in water in a windowsill. It takes weeks but once the roots mature, I plant in a pot for other members of my family. It’s a very sentimental effort, but very rewarding.



  • thelma beicke Says:
    October 4th, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks for all the good advice.
    smokeys mama



  • Nancy Cardani Says:
    May 1st, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I held my geraniams over for the winter, and when I took the plant out of the pot, it had tons of tiny white spots on the outside of the dirt ball. What caused this, and should I throw the plant out? Thanks you, Nancy



  • 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



  • 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?



  • 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.,



  • 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!!!



  • 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.



  • 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.



  • 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…


  • 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.



  • 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



  • 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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How to Grow Geraniums Over the Winter