At the end of the season, if you have a really special geranium, it's nice to be able to save it for next year. There are a lot of ideas for how to save that special geranium. Joe and Matt Heidgen from Shady Hill Gardens in suburban Chicago joined Martha to demonstrate the the proper way to overwinter your geraniums.
Overwintering Geraniums How-To
1. The best method is to root a new cutting for new, fresh growth. Even with a cutting, you have the chance of carrying over any health problems. But you do have new growth, as opposed to the older, woody stems. The best time to take the cuttings is at the end of August or early September.
2. To take a cutting, use a clean knife and disinfect the knife (we use a solution of one part bleach to eight parts water) between taking cuttings on different plants to avoid spreading any bacteria or fungus. Remove the excess leaves and the stipules on the stem (a stipule is a little outgrowth from the base of the stem).
3. Stick the cutting in rooting media (Joe and Matt like to use Jiffy 7 -- peat pellets). You can also use an oasis, coarse sand, or perlite as a medium. Water and mist the cuttings. Light should be indirect while the rooting and full sun when in bloom. Check for roots by giving the cutting a little tug. They'll start to root in about two weeks. Pot them up about four weeks after we take the cutting.
4. If the cuttings don't take or frost comes too early, you can overwinter the whole plant. Cut the plant back hard, repot it in fresh soil, and keep it in sunniest spot available. Use fresh soil because the old soil will be leached of nutrients. Don't overwater or feed through winter -- watering about once a week should be good depending on your light conditions. Cut back any spindly growth in the beginning of March to have bushy plants to put out in May. Don't start feeding until the plants are put out in the spring.
Joe and Matt Heidgen
Shady Hill Gardens