Geraniums add a splash of red, pink or white to summer gardens, window boxes and hanging baskets, but, when cold weather approaches, they must be brought inside for the winter. How you store them depends on whether you wish to grow them as houseplants (Section 1) or to store them for next year's garden (Section 2).
Dig geraniums in the fall before the first frost. Use a garden spade or garden fork to dig to a depth of 6 to 8 inches around the base of the plant approximately 8 inches from the base, being careful not to injure roots. Slide the blade under the plant. Lift the plant free of the soil and shake gently to remove as much soil as possible.
Fill half to three-quarters of a 6- to 8-inch plant pot with fresh potting soil. The depth depends on the size of the geranium's root ball. Place the geranium in the pot and spread the roots.
Cover the roots with fresh soil, filling the remainder of the pot. Tamp down the soil around the base of the plant with your hands to eliminate air pockets and secure the plant.
Cut back the height of the foliage by one-third to one-half and water thoroughly until water runs through the drainage holes.
Place the geranium in a sunny location away from sources of heat. Geraniums prefer daytime temperatures of 65 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures around 55 F. They may suffer in higher temperatures.
Water when the soil is dry to the touch and pinch center leaves once a month to encourage dense compact foliage. Simply pinch the leaves between your thumb and finger to remove the inner most leaves at the end of each branch.
Dig geraniums following the procedures outlined in Section 1 and remove as much soil as possible.
Hang geraniums by the stem in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight for the winter. Do not prune or cut back the stem at this time. Temperatures should be below 55 degrees Fahrenheit but should not dip below freezing.
Soak the roots in a bucket of tepid water for two hours once a month to keep them alive. This provides enough water to sustain the dormant plant for the next few weeks.
Remove all dry stems and branches in March and plant in a pot of fresh soil. The plant will have lost its leaves, but stems should be firm. For neatness reasons, the bare root geraniums can be hung in a potato sack or paper bag.
Water thoroughly and place in a sunny location. Watch for signs of new growth and care for the plant following the usual instructions for houseplants. Plant outside once all danger of frost has passed.
About this Author
Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.