Bare Root Storage of Pelargoniums

tahota(USDA-5 Sunst-2b)November 9, 2005

When I was a kid I remember our elderly neighbor stored her pelargoniums dry through the winter (I think she hung them upside down in her cellar) and replanted them in the spring. I remember that few wouldn't make it, but the majority would grow back. Does anyone have any more information on this technique? What are the required temperatures or humidity ... etc.?

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garden_grammie(SE Pa.)

I usually shake all the dirt off the roots, put the foliage in brown paper bags with the roots sticking out, tie the top of the bags shut, hang the bags in the garage and wait til spring to repot and enjoy for another year. You may lose some, but it works!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2005 at 7:11PM
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DianeKaryl(z5ONT)

Tahota, in the east we get a picture of you in the west as living in a more moisture laden part of the country. Along with British Columbia, you live in the banana belt where winter temperatures are not hard to take.

The storage of geraniums in the manner you describe is very much the way to keep them safe and secure until we bring them out for re-invigorating.

You should recognize that the sun at this time of season is almost at its lowest....December 21..the winter solstace being the shortest day of the year...not many plants would be suggested to do well in this kind of sun.

So we store the geranium until the sun values return ....and by mid February, those values return sufficiently to begin the process of re-invigorating.

One note of caution: Garden Grammie may indeed have her plants come back --as she points out---sometimes...in the bag method. But I think Grammie you will have a much better return if you don't tie the bag shut....leave it open...let the air circulate. The plant in the bag has moisture in it...and the interior of the bag then restricts the moisture to leave the bag...thus setting up mildew and/or mold. The bag method is a good way to store pels and catch the debris from the plant's drying.

Tahota, to use the method you describe...the hanging upside down...you MUST have a place ...generally in the basement..that is dry, cool (35 to 50 fahrenheit) and dark.
No moisture should reach the plant...so don't sprinkle....
no heat should reach the plant....cool keeps mildew and mold at bay with the loss of moisture....and dark so light doesn't initiate growth.

The coolness must be in the range...35 to 50...otherwise its either too cold below it, or too warm above it.

If you can guarantee your plant that kind of environment, then your plants WILL return when you begin the process....in February.

The plant, nung up ...upside down...easy to tie the roots to something above it...will dry out..completely. It will drop much debris....so you might put a plastic sheet below it to catch the debris.

Round about the ides of February, we bring the plant out...remove any and all old leaves, broken stems, examine the roots, tear them apart...so they can take up nourishment easy.

Cut the plant back by ...1/3.....1/2 .....as you choose.
Into a pot of 6"....8"....10"....again you choose according to the size of the plant...place some shards into the bottom of the pot..to keep the soil UP away from the drainage holes. Your plant MUsT DRAIN.
Fresh potting soil is put in, make a hole in the center and put your plant in...firm it up with fingers.
To improve drainage, you may wish to mix the potting soil with sand and/or peat moss.

Water it until drainage is seen exited out the bottom.
Let it drain fully.
Then take it to the best window you have...west, south or east will do fine...north is not what you want.
DO NOT water again until new leaves appear. It'll be no time at all.
Then water again til drainage is seen in the saucer below....and dump the excess within 1/2 hour.

As the plant begins to add foliage, you can begin to feed it...20/20/20...1/4...1/2 rate. Always, water the plant first before feeding.
Never feed a dry plant.

Each day or so, turn the plant 1/4 turn to ensure all parts of the plant receives ample amounts of sun.

In about 4 to 6 weeks, you should see quite a bit of new foliage....new flower buds will follow in about 6..7..weeks...depending on the amount of sun your plant receives.

As the foliage increases, about every 3rd watering, increase the rate of fertilizer.

Use overnighted water to gain room temperature and lose of the fluorine in it. Always water til drainage...and dump the excess. Let it dry down some between waterings.
Don't overwater....much better to be dry than to be wet.

Using this method, I guarantee..if you can give the plant as I have suggested, you will have 100 percent recovery.
maybe, better than ever.

This method can guarantee you never having to buy another pelargonium.

The pel must not be allowed to be touched by frost...so before that happens, do remove the plant to the cool room.
You needn't shake off all the soil at this time, it will dry up and you can flick it off with your fingers when you cut it back in February.

The February date is not compulsory...it depends on just what kind of weather the PNW gets.....so you can begin a little later. It hardly serves the purpose to start earlier. The sun values are not up to specs much before that time...and its the sun that determines the success...or failure of this method.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 7:14PM
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