The frost is coming–but you can save your geranium plants!
Geraniums are a beautiful, healthy addition to your garden; they are pretty to look at, smell lovely, and (bonus!) make a wonderfully healthy tea. For most of the world, geraniums are considered an annual, which means they will die out after the first frost. UNLESS you save them!
Geraniums can be held over the winter more easily than you may have thought. There are three simple methods that I use.
Store trimmed plant in cool place
Cut all flowers and buds off, and trim back plant by at least half, and up to two-thirds (I bring a vase with me to catch the flower stems…it makes cutting up the pretty plants seem much easier). Plants should be placed in a cool basement or garage where they get just a bit of light. Water only sparingly just before storing, then let the plant go into dormancy until spring.
Cut 5-7 inch tips of stems. Remove all flowers, buds, and lower leaves. Place on a windowsill, in a jar or clear vase with water and wait. (I use a clear jar or vase so I can see the progress of the roots without disturbing the young plants.) Geraniums root easily, but you may add a rooting hormone to the water if you’d like. Once roots have formed, transfer the young plant to a pot filled with potting soil mix. Water regularly, but do not let it stay soggy, or the tender young roots may rot.
Store the roots in paper bags
This one’s the easiest, as there’s no care at all until next spring! Allow the soil around your plant to dry. Cut the plants a few inches above the soil line, remove roots and shake off the dirt. Place in a paper bag, and store in a cool, dark place until spring. When ready to plant, replant the root in a pot filled with potting soil and water well. Keep in a bright, sunny place until it’s warm enough to bring outside.
Bonus for you organic gardeners out there: when cutting back your geranium plants, harvest and dry the flower petals to make a delicious floral tea!