Thursday, December 7, 2017

Overwintering Geraniums


When I lived in Southern California, geraniums were perennials. They remained in the garden year after year. Now that I live in Coastal BC with freezing temperatures and frost, they act as annuals when they're outdoor plants.

Covering method.





One year I tried saving my geraniums by mulching and covering them with plastic in their repurposed BBQ planter. It was marginally successful and several roots made it through the winter months to regrow when spring arrived.


Dormancy method.
Another year I tried the dormancy method. The plants were removed, the roots cleaned and the stems cut back before being wrapped in newspaper. After spending the winter in our condo guest bathtub, regeneration was again marginally successful.

Taking the planter indoors isn't an option. We travel during the winter and indoor cabin temperature can drop below freezing.


 Modified Indoor
Overwintering Method

Removing geraniums to transport to the condo in town.
This year I'm trying something new. I call it the modified indoor overwintering method. I removed the plants from their BBQ planters, but left their root balls intact and covered with soil.

I removed dead leaves and remaining flowers. A cardboard box lined with a plastic bag made was a good transfer container to take them to the condo in town. We leave heaters on low during winter, so there's no risk of freezing.

At the Dollar Store I purchased a plastic tub for $4.00. It was just the right size to hold all the geranium plants (a dozen) from my two BBQ planters.

Geraniums in their tub after a month indoors.
I filled the bottom with empty individual-sized plastic water bottles. Then I placed the geranium plants with their soil covered root balls in the tub. In between each plant I placed additional potting mix to help absorb and hold moisture. I placed the tub next to the glass door in the bedroom and leave the blinds open to let sunlight reach the plants.

When we go to town (about once a week) I check the moisture in the soil and add water as needed. I also remove any dead or dying leaves.  The plants have been in the condo for one month now and they are still doing well.

I will give you an update in the spring, but the experiment is worth it. For an investment of $5.00 (one tub and one small bag of potting mix) I'm potentially saving $35 (the cost of 12 plants minus my investment). And I'll have larger plants to start with. Another bonus.

Do you overwinter plants? What are some of the methods you use? -- Margy

6 comments :

  1. Oh, Margy, you never cease to amaze me. Just when I think your inventiveness has reached an all-time high, you surpass it. You are a very talented gardener and a very creative thinker, a winning combination for sure!
    Kay
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

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    1. I do learn a lot reading blogs online to get ideas. I think I'm a more persistent than talented gardener through. - Margy

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  2. Geraniums were never a favorite until we moved to central Oregon. They take the heat, seem to be bug proof, deer proof and very forgiving. I have six large hanging pots of them wintering over right now. Three are in our shop bathroom on a plant hanger and three are in the garage. I usually get maybe three seasons out of a plant before it starts to look scraggly. At that point you can take cuttings and root new ones but I have had some start from seed that had fallen from the pots, so have not done any cuttings yet.

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    1. Interesting about plants starting from seed. I have used cuttings, and made take a few stems from these to increase my number of plants for next spring. We had geraniums in the ground at our California homes. They made great colourful ground cover. - Margy

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  3. I usually can take mine indoors to a shed & leave near the window, watering occasionally as our winter temperatures are not too low.

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    1. My shed doesn't get enough light and would probably get too cold to try that option. - Margy

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Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy