Starting dormant geraniums

Susieqtwo's picture

I brought in my geraniums from last season and thought I would try getting them started indoors this winter. I would appreciate reading others experience with this. I am in a northern climate, zone 4. I have lights. I was thinking of potting them up, watering and putting them under lights. How long does it take before growth occurs? Fertilizer? I'm new to this forum so any input is appreciated.

Astrid's picture

(post #15604, reply #1 of 27)

Geraniums love a sunny south facing window. If you have some green plants in pots, put them there. Give them a good pruning to shape them up, then a good soaking. Water again when the top inch of soil is dry, and be sure to put a saucer under the pot. They should start blooming pretty soon. They aren't fussy about soil, and they will even grow blooms happily just in water.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson


Edited 1/19/2009 7:23 pm by Astrid

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Susieqtwo's picture

(post #15604, reply #2 of 27)

Thank you Astrid for the response. I have them in paper bags now in a cool dark room, they still have green on them. They were gorgeous plants last season so I really wanted to save them.

Astrid's picture

(post #15604, reply #3 of 27)

If you are busy, just put the plants in a sunny window and water. Geraniums are pretty darn sturdy.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Gardener6's picture

(post #15604, reply #21 of 27)

I live in Michigan and have never been able to overwinter geraniums!  I did bring in a scented geranium last fall for another try, but it is spindly and sickly looking.  I'm hoping to just keep it alive until I can put it outside again.  Any ideas?

1946's picture

(post #15604, reply #22 of 27)

I live in northern Michigan (not da UP) and I overwinter geraniums all the time. I have a west facing bay window in a room that is pretty cool most of the time, as low as 50 sometimes, and I keep the geraniums in this window. They thrive there. Two things will make them spindly, not enough light being the worst culprit, and having them too warm and dry. Iwould cut your plant back to some healthy nodules and put them in a bright, not too warm place. This is also the time I take many plant cuttings to propagate new plants, so you might also try rooting the part you trim back. One winter I actually found a geranium that had overwintered in a flowerbed on the south side of my house. I guess the foundation of the house generated just enough warmth to keep the soil from freezing there.

Astrid's picture

(post #15604, reply #25 of 27)

I'd keep it in water, maybe re-freshing it now and then, and hope for the best in the spring. If there is still some green and roots it might re-grow. Geraniums always remind me of hot weather.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Susieqtwo's picture

(post #15604, reply #26 of 27)

I pulled my geraniums out of the paper sack I had put them in and they had green little leaves starting. I potted them up and they look as though they are starting to come around. Thanks for all the info.

Astrid's picture

(post #15604, reply #27 of 27)

Good for you! :-)

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
1946's picture

(post #15604, reply #4 of 27)

If I understand what you wrote correctly you have plants in paper bags, I am guessing with no soil on the roots? If that is what you are working with, prune the roots back to a reasonable size, prune the tops back to where you see new growth nodes, pot them and put them under your lights. "Sunny south facing windows" can be very hard to come by in the north, plus when it is seriously cold outside windowsills are not all that warm and cozy sometimes. Plus sometimes there is not much sunshine. I have my geranium cuttings under lights in my basement where I start all my cuttings and seeds, which is very successful for me. When you are starting fresh I would not fertilize till you see new growth, then start with a "half-strength" water solution. Keep them quite close to the lights so you get short sturdy plants that have not stretched for light. Growing under lights in the basement gives me my winter "gardening fix"!!!!!!!

Astrid's picture

(post #15604, reply #5 of 27)

Good point, I am lucky to have two large sliding glass windows that face south! My sun room stays colorful and interesting during the winter months. I have several scented geraniums which brighten up cold days with their fragrance. My star this year is a Martha Washington geranium, big deep red ruffled blooms with white edges.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Lunaria's picture

(post #15604, reply #6 of 27)

I confess I am new to geranimums - just didn't care for them, believe it or not.  Too "blousy" and pungent, and they never seemed to fit in my garden - never had too many reds (or even pink) in my color scheme.  Also gardened in semi-shade forever until recently.  But now for my balcony....well that's different.  I particularly like the ones with varigated leaves....which I have trouble finding in Bloomington.  However, I have a source in Decatur, Illinois now, so I have some that I hope I have preserved for next year.   So far one of them looks OK.  Should I be alarmed (or let it) die back completely.  They are all still in pots in the recesses of my kitchen.  Don't have enough sun for winter bloom.   Should I remove them from the pots.   Pat/Lunaria   

Astrid's picture

(post #15604, reply #7 of 27)

My experience with keeping static geraniums during the winter, is to keep giving some water, and wait until spring to refresh them and re-pot in fresh soil.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Lunaria's picture

(post #15604, reply #8 of 27)

Thanks Astrid....that is what I have been doing, but some stems rotted - too much water I guess.  Well, anyway, I can always get more in Decatur.  I don't know why no one sells the varigated ones in Bloomington.  I did not put them into my beds last year but may try to find a spot this year.....


I am more into bedding annuals, for example those cute short zinnia cultivars (Star and Profusion), Globeflower (purple and a taller orange), and also tall zinnias and cosmos.  I started an extra pot of Purple Heart the other day (don't know botainical for this houseplant).  It is a staple in my garden for filling in blank spaces or creating contrast.  I discovered by accident in the '90s that it can take the sun and heat out in the garden.  They have new and improved ones now that look bigger of leaf, but I am still growing offsprings of old ones I have had for years.  I keep pots on balcony and put them out in garden after summer solstice. Photos later this year. ...Pat/Lunaria 

Susieqtwo's picture

(post #15604, reply #11 of 27)

Those profusion zinnias are great, I start them under lights in March. By then my storage room can be filled with blooms. I've started geraniums, wave petunias different colors I like them for ground cover, salvia, some big leaf coleus and snapdragons. The snapdragons are a favorite from childhood, I still take them and make a puppet out of them. I am hoping to pot up my gerainums today.

Lunaria's picture

(post #15604, reply #12 of 27)

Thanks for reply.  Did I mention my Dahberg Daisies?  If you have never grown these you are missing little workhorses.  Only one nursery here sells them...trying to remember their common name - it's cute.  I am sure they will do from seed, though, as I get little volunteers here and there.  Got to get organized with reference books by computer.....Pat/Lunaria

Susieqtwo's picture

(post #15604, reply #14 of 27)

Dahlberg daisies, I can google them and get the info. Thanks for the tip. I do have daisies and have been splitting and adding to each garden. They are workhorses I have to agree with that. Trouble free as well.

Susieqtwo's picture

(post #15604, reply #10 of 27)

Thanks for your response. I can imagine the Martha Washington's are beautiful. I've had some of those in years past. I have started different geraniums from seed. I haven't tried any of the scented geraniums, how are the flowers?

Astrid's picture

(post #15604, reply #16 of 27)

The flowers are small, and white. They look like a light dusting of small snowflakes from a distance.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Karen's picture

(post #15604, reply #17 of 27)

I love the scented geraniums, two of my favorites are Lime and Apple. One of our local nurseries has a long row of different varieties -- I like to walk down the aisle rubbing the foliage and sniffing. About halfway down, though, I wish I had the equivalent of a piece of bread at a wine tasting to clear my 'palate'.

North Carolina - zone 7

North Carolina - zone 7

Astrid's picture

(post #15604, reply #18 of 27)

I enjoy the scented geraniums too. I like to use them for several pot pour ri containers, which get snips of interesting fragrances I collect while browsing here and there.
This year I also discovered that lemon balm leaves have more fragrance if left on the plant to dry.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Susieqtwo's picture

(post #15604, reply #19 of 27)

I haven't tried any scented geraniums. I do have lemon balm and it is wonderful, I grow lavender next to my front steps. I come out and rub my hands on the lavender.

Astrid's picture

(post #15604, reply #24 of 27)

I do like lemon balm too, it is refreshing.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Lunaria's picture

(post #15604, reply #20 of 27)

Speaking of dried stuff....I once air-dried a small bunch of chamomile and even a year or more later could still smell its sweet fragrance!  I've had Sweet Annie (an herb...botanical unknown) which also has a long-lasting fragrance ..and is a favorite of fragrant wreath artists.  It isn't pretty, just fragrant.   More - my favorite mint is Apple Mint. 

Astrid's picture

(post #15604, reply #23 of 27)

Chamomile is pretty easy to grow and re-seeds easily. I still have some dried in baskets with other flowers, rose petals etc. I've made tea too, with honey, delicious.

New Mexico home organic gardener

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson

New Mexico home organic gardener Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. Emerson
Susieqtwo's picture

(post #15604, reply #9 of 27)

Thanks for the reply. They do have some soil around the root and the stems still look green. Have you soaked them first before potting up again? I can cut back the dried stems and trim the roots. How long before growth begins, what has been your experience? Thanks again for the info.

1946's picture

(post #15604, reply #13 of 27)

I don't think you need to presoak them, just trim them, pot them and then soak the soil well and drain. After that just water like normal and you should see new growth in a couple of weeks.

Susieqtwo's picture

(post #15604, reply #15 of 27)

Thanks, I'll get going on that this afternoon. A good winter activity I might add.