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Saving geraniums over winter

Ann Hancheck

Many gardeners like to keep their geraniums from one year to the next. This provides plants for the home in the winter and eliminates the cost of buying new plants the following spring.

There are several methods of handling geraniums over winter. One way is to take cuttings and root them, early in fall.

Geranium stem cuttings, often called "slips," should be about four inches long. Take the slips from the tips of the healthiest stems. Remove the leaves on the bottom two inches of the cuttings. Stick the cuttings in a coarse sand, perlite, vermiculite or a well drained potting soil. Cuttings would root faster if you dip the ends in rooting hormone powder. Stick the cuttings two inches deep in the medium and water thoroughly. Place in a north or east window or underneath artificial lights until rooted. This generally takes three to four weeks.

After the cuttings have rooted, plant them in individual pots and put them in a well-lighted spot. Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize lightly every four to six weeks once new growth appears.

Rather than take cuttings, some people prefer to pot their best plants and bring them indoors for winter. Cut the plant back to about one-third its original height. Carefully dig up the plant, and pot it into a six-inch or larger flowerpot. Water thoroughly and put it by a sunny window.

An old method of carrying geraniums over winter is to dig the plants, shake excess soil from their roots, then hang them from your basement rafters. Most basements are too warm and dry now, however, some people report success with this method. To find out if this will work in your basement, try it with several plants, but be sure you take cuttings, too, in case you lose the original plant. Take the plants down occasionally and place the roots in water for several hours. Then, hang them back up. Do this several times over the winter to prevent them from drying out completely. Pot your geraniums in early spring, and put them in a sunny window until frost danger has passed.

Reviewed 2009

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