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Tips For Growing Geraniums

Written by Stephanie on January 3rd, 2013

Geraniums are a cheerful addition to most gardens and are fairly easy to grow.  They are planted outside in the spring and bloom until autumn.  At that point, they will die back in the cold.  It is possible to start new geraniums from slips and grow them inside over the winter, or overwinter the existing geraniums.

Geraniums need to be planted after all danger of frost has passed.  Setting them out too early will injure the foliage.  Injured foliage will produce few blooms.

Geraniums should be planted in the sun so they will produce the most flowers.  Plant them in a site where the water drainage is good, as geraniums do not like wet feet.  Almost any soil type will work for geraniums as long as it drains well.  If you have heavy clay soil, amend it by mixing in compost to improve the drainage.

When planting geraniums, dig a hole slightly shallower than the geranium is in the pot.  You want the stem to be above the surface of the dirt or stem rot will cause the geranium to die.  Be careful not to injure the stem when planting or this will allow diseases to enter into the plant and kill it.  Carefully firm the dirt around the plant and then water it in.

Fertilizer geraniums with liquid fertilizer in the 20-20-20 or 15-30-15 range.  Follow the directions on the package for application.  Water the fertilizer in to make sure it reaches the root zone and to prevent burning.  If you get fertilizer on the foliage, be sure and wash it off with water or it will burn the foliage.

When the first frost comes, it will kill your geraniums.  You can preserve them over the winter by digging them up and potting them, taking cuttings and growing them inside until spring, or overwintering your plant bareroot.  The easiest way to preserve your geraniums is to dig them up and pot them, then keep them in the house by a sunny window until spring.  Then you replant them outside.

You can also take cuttings, or slips, from the geranium and root these in pots.  Grow them in a sunny location all winter then plant the new plants outside after all danger of frost has passed.  This is a bit more labor intensive but produces better geraniums in the spring.  As geraniums get older, they become woody and have fewer blooms.

Lastly, you can pull up your geraniums, shake all the dirt off the roots, and store them in a dark, cool place for the winter.  You can do this two ways.  The easiest is to hang them upside down from the rafters or from a rack.  You can also put them in a paper bag and loosely close the bag.  Every few weeks, check on the bareroot geraniums and water them if they seem to be wilting.  Let the water dry off of them before replacing them in the paper bag.  In the spring, plant normally and the plants will come back.  However, as I mentioned, the older the plant gets, the woodier the stems become and the fewer blossoms it produces.


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