When can I bring my geraniums out of storage?

garden_crazy(z5 N IL)February 27, 2011

I have a bunch of 7-10 year old geraniums and a few other tender perennials that I keep in an unheated basement over winter. I usually bring them up into an enclosed, unheated porch around April 15th or so. Can I bring them up sooner? It takes quite awhile for them to get blooming, maybe the end of June, so I would like to speed them up a bit. What do you do? -Thanks

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


how do we know what this spring will be like for you?????

let me put it this way .. you know the failsafe way .. why mess with it ....

i tried many times.. and have failed every time ... so i dont know why you would mess with a sure thing ...

if you have duplicates .. extras.. try some earlier.. and if you fail.. you still have the others ...


    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 6:40PM
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gonativegal(zone 5a)

I am in the same zone and overwinter geraniums too in paper bags.

You have to be patient otherwise you will lose them. To speed them up I incorporate a granular slow release fertilizer like Osmacote in the potting soil when I set them outside in May and then I fertilize weekly with a liquid fertilizer. Daily pinching of spent flowers and discolored leaves once they've been set out keeps them vigorous as well.

Otherwise you have to bite the bullet and purchase greenhouse grown geraniums every year if you want something that is immediately larger and fuller.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 11:48AM
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You can transition them first by bringing out of storage/ dormancy, repotting and then growing on indoors (a bright windowsill or kitchen greenhouse window - greenhouse or sunroom if you have one) before moving out when outdoor temperatures are safe. In fact, many folks hold over their geraniums as houseplants all winter. That should give them a bit of headstart over just moving out to the unheated porch later in the season.

Holding them over for 7-10 years is impressive! Unless they were fancy kinds (something other than the typical zonals), I'd be inclined to just toss them each season and purchase fresh. It's not like they're expensive plants :-)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 2:28PM
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garden_crazy(z5 N IL)

So sorry, I should have been more specific. I leave the geraniums in pots and water them 3-4 times over the winter. They were all Mother's Day presents from my kiddies or I wouldn't bother saving them. - And, it's no trouble just putting them in the basement in the fall and hauling them out in the spring. I was really wondering if I'm leaving them in the basement longer than necessary. Certainly the porch in March is not going to get colder than the basement was in January, however, once they hit the sunshine and the warmer daytime temps, new growth starts. Does this make them vulnerable to damage or death?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 4:06PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I'm assuming you're referring to annual geraniums - ?

This is about the time I start potting them up (I store in paper bags in the crawl space over winter). I will take them out of storage, trim back severely, and pot up in potting medium, water (no fertilizer yet) - DH refers to them as the mummy plants at this stage LOL! Under the grow lights they go. In a short while growth will begin (if it hasn't already - often they will be showing growth when I pull them out of storage). I fertilize with water-soluble fertilizer after steady growth begins, and they grow on under under the lights until daytime temps warm up. When daytime temps warm up (usually mid to end of April), I will start taking them out on the sunny patio during the day, back in at night - that bright sunshine makes a world of difference, it's worth the effort. I keep that up until temps are warm enough at night, then leave them out, bringing them in at night if a cold snap is forecasted overnight - same as with any annual before planting time.

If yours are potted already, just trim them way back, water them well, and follow directions as above.

I've been overwintering the same geraniums for years and they are HUGE, they get bigger and better every year, it really is worth the effort as far as I'm concerned, I couldn't afford to purchase geraniums that big every year.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 11:04AM
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garden_crazy(z5 N IL)

Thanks for the suggestions. Indeed, I was referring to pelargoniums. -They are perennial somewhere right! I was going to post on the annuals forum, however, no one is awake there yet!

Thanks all.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 9:35PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Not to worry...geraniums are perennials, though they are often grown AS annuals. If you've had a plant for that long, it's a perennial. Annuals croak after they've flowered and gone to seed.

I had a big one in my greenhouse some years ago, which I used as the mother plant to root new cuttings year after year. With all of that annual 'pruning', it developed quite a large trunk and a huge body of loaded branches. It was quite something.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 5:15AM
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