The Q&A Archives: Overwintering Geraniums

Question: I plant my zonal geraniums in clay pots during the growing season for outdoor use. I want to leave them in the pots for winter storage and keeping them alive. I do not want to dry root them. The basement where I store them is 60-65 degrees and they are 3-4 feet below a south basement window. How often should I water them and what else do I need to do?

Answer: If you want to keep your geraniums indoors and alive during the winter, you'll need to treat them like houseplants, giving them bright light (with some direct sunlight), average household warmth during the day, cool nights, and regular watering. Geraniums do best when soil is on the dry side. You can check soil moisture by sticking your finger into the soil - when it's dry an inch below the surface, water thoroughly, and then don't water again until the soil dries out again. Geraniums can get leggy indoors, so pinch the tips of the stems out regularly to keep them bushy. If you just want to store them, rather than keep them growing, you can leave the plants in the pots, cut the stems back even with the edge of the pot and store them just above freezing in a dark, airy location (such as a garage). They won't require water until new buds show in the spring. The problem with keeping them in a cool basement is that it's not warm enough for them to grow well, and it's not cool enough to put them into dormancy. If your plants are stressed because they're not getting the temperature and light they need to adequately grow, they'll be prone to disease problems.

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