Monday, April 6, 2009

New Life for Old Geraniums

It's time to start thinking about what annuals will decorate our gardens, porches and patios this year. Impatiens, zinnia, or lantana? How about morning glory, coleus or ageratum? Going to try snapdragons or browallia? Many of us will choose stalwart potted geraniums. They're sturdy, come in a variety of vivid colors, bloom continuously 'til hard frost, and even make a decent cut flower bouquet. But gosh, $5.00 or more a plant?! And starting them from seed takes forever. What's a frugal gardener to do?

Save 'em from last year! Easy to do, and quite au courant in the midst of a recession. Here's the necessary steps:

  1. Purchase and enjoy your geraniums this season.
  2. Just before frost next October, trowel out healthy plants you'd like to save.
  3. Shake the dirt off their roots, and lay flat in an unheated, dark space. (I put mine on shelves in my garage.) You need a dry location where the temps don't drop below freezing. If you want to keep the colors straight, label them. Believe me, you'll never remember which is which without labels.
  4. Don't even look at the poor things until the beginning of March. By then you may see little green shoots erupting from the dead-looking stems.
  5. Drag out the pathetic objects, prune to about 3-5", pot 'em up and place in good light & some warmth. I put mine in a bay window until daytime temps are reliably above 40. Keep from freezing. Most of those scraggly plants will reward you with new growth in a couple of weeks. Harden them off as spring progresses. Geraniums are cold-tolerant, so may be planted in the garden generally by late April.
  6. You'll lose some plants, but soon there'll be a new crop from what used to be throwaways.

Congratulations! You've learned to recycle one more thing.


  1. Recycle? Sounds like beneficial reuse to me :)

  2. Good morning Master Teacher,

    Tis safely to say that we are thankful for enjoy your gardening tips. I don't many of your readers understand how many hours you spent developing your tips, blog,newsletter and your weekly newspaper column.

    I hope the word appreciation will suffice.