Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Geraniums, Love 'em or Hate 'em

 I occasionally buy zonal geraniums for my garden.  They offer a good deal of color all summer long with minimal care.  I really don't care for geraniums.  They bring back memories of Mrs. Blackett's eighth grade English class.  She loved Pelargonium zonale, Zonal Geraniums.   Our classroom was an old school building, the outside wall was full of windows.  She lined those windowsills with various geraniums --- ugh.  The smell of them made me sneeze, my nose itch, and my eyes water.  So in that condition, I diagrammed sentences.  Do you remember diagramming sentences? Double whammy.... diagramming and geraniums.

This summer I bought red geraniums for our front garden.  I didn't buy enough to really fill the area, so I bought more red ones.  Not a good idea, one was a nice true red, the other, kind of tomato soupy red.  Even the foliage was a different shade of green.  I wasn't happy with how the front looked for most of the summer.  When I was looking for photos to share here, there were few to be found.    The photo above was from the end of June.  The one below was taken the beginning of November.    Yes, I know, the geraniums and the mums are not good together.  Don't get me started on mums.




Over Thanksgiving weekend we had a couple frosts so it was time to cut back, pull out and do some clean up around the garden.  I needed to decide what to do with the geraniums.   I don't like geraniums much, but I hate buying new plants if I can save the ones I have.  Time for a Google search.  I was NOT keeping these geraniums in the house.....visions of eighth grade English revisited.



The frost kissed geraniums did have some nice fall colors.



http://www.gardengatemagazine.com/overwinter-geraniums/ 
Garden Gate magazine had a short video one way to overwinter geraniums without too much muss or fuss.   In short, get a box and put the plants (minus the soil around the roots) in the box.  The first box I got out of the garage wasn't large enough.  The box keeps the light off the plants while they are resting in a dormant state.  In the video she was putting the box in an unheated basement.  Our lower level is built into the earth, so it isn't that cold.  I decided to keep mine in the garage, up against against the house wall.   After finding a larger box, the geranium experiment has begun.




The box is closed, facing the wall and should be fine.

Accessing more of the yard, I found some bunny was hungry-- these are my gladiolus.  All eaten back to a nub.  Foliage left to 'mulch' the garden.  Rotten critter!!

Do you overwinter any plants?  What about nasty Pelargoniums?  
Tree posts will continue, having to go back through many of my photos to get a full season's photo profile.  


©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

43 comments:

  1. I am overwintering three Brugs, as well as a whole slew of tender succulents. I've never grown zonal Geraniums. But you know, although they are so common, I do think they have interesting foliage. I remember a couple of years ago, checking out plants in the spring at the nursery, and seeing just the foliage (they weren't flowering yet) and not knowing what they were. I was so surprised to discover they were Pelargoniums, I had never thought of them as foliage plants before. I almost bought some. I wonder what would happen if you bought some and took off all the flower buds all through the growing season.

    What a bummer about your Glad. Animals are so annoying! I used to have a yearly fight with a woodchuck, not to mention oodles of bunnies, so I know your pain.

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    1. Alison, I saw your post with the Brugs. I tried wintering a Brug in the garage in VA. Never bloomed for me.
      I have a friend who is crazy about all the scented geraniums. She loves them.
      Hoping the glads had enough time to store enough energy for next year's growth.

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  2. Every year, I add a few geraniums. I don't love them, but they do give a nice splash of color in the brutal heat of summer. Then, as fall approaches and I'm so sick of them, I happily tear them out and throw them on the compost pile to make room for pansies. Isn't that terrible? And wasteful? I should overwinter them, but I just can't bring myself to sacrifice greenhouse space for them, poor plants.

    When we visited Malta years ago, the zonal geraniums were amazing. I've never seen such enormous plants--they were, honestly, stunning. Now, if we could grow them like in Malta, I'd pamper those babies a little more! Good luck with your overwinter project. I have containers of snail flowers, mandevilla, aloe, and a few other things that I've tucked into the greenhouse.

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    1. Julie, I was thinking of how they are in Switzerland, too. And lots of Europe, for that matter...so pretty in the windowboxes. They must love cooler nights than we get here in the summer. What doesn't?

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    2. Julie, I love the cascading geraniums in Germany, full window boxes spilling out -- lovely. Daricia, we are on the same wave length.

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  3. That's so funny that geraniums remind you of your eighth grade English teacher:) I have lots of fond memories of my junior high teacher--minus geraniums--and, in fact, she was one of the inspirations for me to choose that field to teach myself.

    But back to the geraniums--they always remind me of my mom and grandma for some reason, so I always have a few each year. My mother has a few geraniums she's kept for years. I learned long ago to buy the zonals, not the seed geraniums which look really ratty after a couple of weeks, and I usually use them just in containers. I do overwinter some, with a varied success rate. Last year I stuck them in the garage (no box) and forgot about them, and after a week or two of spring sunshine, they looked as good as ever. Looking forward to seeing how your box experiment turns out.

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    1. Rose, Funny what plants stir memories. Glad your jr. high teacher inspired you to go into teaching.
      Geraniums are kind of old fashioned. Sounds like yours came through the winter well. Hope mine do..though they aren't going back in the same spot. May have to get some pink ones.

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  4. Good for you to save the plants for next year. Buying annuals is one of my quandaries--seems like money gone, so I grow as much from seed as possible and gather the seeds for the following year. Doesn't work well with hybrids, but does with many others. Unless we have an extremely cold winter, I can overwinter tender plants on the south side of my house, beneath shrubs.

    As for critters, the deer came up on my patio and ate all the heuchera from the containers! They were looking so beautiful.

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    1. Freda, I hope they survive and are easy enough to revive next spring. I agree with you about buying annuals. Trying to use more seeds myself.
      I know you have a lot of deer. We do too, but think my culprits this time were bunnies. It wasn't until the cold weather that these items were eaten, guess there wasn't anything else to eat.

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  5. You know I always over winter some pelargonium's every year. Some of the ivy ones and a few favorites I just cannot seem to toss out.I brought in one Gerbera daisy that I will not doubt have to toss out because it will not last. And a mandavilla vine and begonia which will be touch and go this winter to survive. LOL! Have a lovely week Janet.

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    1. Lona, Good to know!! I do like the ivy ones, hard to find down here. Our Gerbera daisies come back if we don't have a hard winter. Crossing my fingers for your mandavilla and begonia.

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  6. I've overwintered them between newspaper sheets, at other times I've just hung them upside down, and sometimes I take cuttings and put them between newspaper sheets for rooting in the spring. If I only have a couple I leave them potted in the garage and let them have some sun on pleasant winter days. Any method seems to work for me.

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    1. Gene, I read about hanging them upside down, I don't have a spot to do that. Sounds like your methods (and mild 7b winters) work well.

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  7. I haven't grown Pelargoniums for years, but I used to just bring them inside near a sunny window. They got a little leggy, but after some pinching back they were good to go for another year.

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    1. Ricki, If they weren't so stinky I would bring a couple inside, but my daughter would be miserable over Christmas if I did.

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  8. My mother used to wrap them in newspapers and over-wintered them in her root cellar. She did this for years. I actually like geraniums but consider them one season plants.

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    1. I didn't know you could do that! Did you Janet? Will have to try it with the scented ones. Not that I have a root cellar. But maybe a corner of the porch.

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    2. Oh gee whiz! If I had paid attention to the video...

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    3. Daricia, I did watch the video, there were a number of options on overwintering. The box worked well (this time) for me.
      Carolyn, If only I had a root cellar!! Not something we have in newer houses.

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  9. Janet, I don't grow the zonal geraniums anymore, but I still can't resist trying a scented or 2 every year. They always look awful by fall and I think I'll take them inside, but never wind up doing it until it's too late and I'm just so sick of the sorry state of the plants that I pull them up. It's funny your association with grammar and geraniums! I'm surprised you didn't ditch them long ago!

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    1. Daricia, I may try a scented one next year, love the rose scented ones. Yes, grammar and geraniums ....they are lucky to still be here! hahah

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  10. This is the first I've heard that you can overwinter pelargoniums. Too late for me this year. Otherwise, no, I don't really have those marginally hardy sorts of plants so I don't do any overwintering.

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    1. Jason, well, maybe if you were so inclined you could try next year.

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  11. The closest I get to over wintering is bringing the Christmas cactus back in once it gets cold. Geraniums remind me of our house when I was 6. We lived in Southern California and I think they must be perennials there. I remember the smell and the green caterpillars that we would find on the fuzzy stems. It's funny how certain plants can bring such strong memories back.
    We have neighbors that overwinter some huge geraniums. They must be 4 feet or more tall.

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    1. Catherine, I think of Christmas cactus as houseplants that are on the screened porch in the summer. Yes, plant memories are strong ones.
      Four feet tall???? oh wow!

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  12. I am neither here nor there on geraniums. I do like some of the ones that are grown just for their interesting foliage, but have had no luck overwintering them as a houseplant.

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    1. Les, I don't see your garden with geraniums, unless they are really cool foliage.

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  13. No overwintering and no pelargoniums for me.

    But I am a BIG fan of the Cranesbill Geraniums like Rozanne. Hardy to zone 5. No special overwintering techniques required here in zone 6/7 :)

    http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/57636/

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    1. Aaron, yes I have true geraniums out back. Last I looked there were 5 Rozanne on the hillside....but there has been some deer/bunny/ chipmunk/ or whatever nibbling the foliage. Can't have them out front as they can't handle that much sun, at least that is from what I read.

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  14. I had to laugh through this post because my mother always has geraniums (Darcia, she is from Germany:)) but I am not a big fan of them. I overwintered lantana last year and it worked well. Maybe I will try that again.

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    1. Karin, I have a pot with a lantana and a cordyline...might pull it into the garage. Might be too late too. Geraniums in Germany were quite picturesque. Hard to pass those by!

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  15. I'm surprised you're keeping them, since it sounds like you don't like them very much! lol

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    1. Sweetbay, I know, makes you wonder doesn't it? haha Hard to explain gardeners and plants.

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  16. I don't mind them and have overwintered some for years. The plants reached almost five feet tall one summer with loads of blooms, so much the neighbors could not believe they were the same geraniums they were growing each year. I must admit they do look better shrub size, but they were too hard to keep them after that. It was too much work. I did something similar to the box one year too. Could I ask also that you leave a link? It makes it easier visiting.

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    1. Donna @GWGT, I have never heard of them getting that tall!! I will see if any of the ones I am overwintering will get that big...wow! Got the link thing squared away, I think.

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  17. Some years i overwinter geraniums or dahlias, but I find I don't have the ideal conditions unless the plants are kept indoors...now I overwinter annual herbs like rosemary and white sage..

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    1. Donna @GEV, Dahlias have to be dug up, I would be hard pressed to find and dig up the tubers. My herbs stay on my deck all winter... ours is such a mild winter.

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  18. That's an excellent tip! I just cleared the white and red geraniums from the circle bed in our front garden. I felt a bit bad about just chucking them on the compost, but they are of the kind that have quite unsublte showy flowers and stinky leaves, which I share your dislike of. I have discovered that there are lots of really beautiful ones with leaves scented in a much more pleasant manner. I am hoping to get some next year, and then keep them going by moving them in to our porch over winter, but you have just given me another option.

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    1. Janet, you have a greenhouse now, so you could put them in there. There are some very pretty ones, hard to find though. So if mine do well, I may indulge myself with some nice ones and save them year to year.

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  19. I like geraniums, and bring mine indoors every winter... and what a mess! I'm glad to know there's another way to keep them over the winter. I'll try it! (and try not to forget what I've done with them when it's time to get them out again).

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    1. Hi Gloria, yes, it is a good way to keep them for the next year. Yes, I could forget about them all too easily.

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  20. I love geraniums! I never realized they got fall color until this year. I think it looks pretty. I'm doing this box trick tomorrow and then storing the box in the well house. I hope it works! ~ Lynda

    Thanks for visiting me today, and Happy New year to you as well!

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    1. Lynda, Yes, the fall colors are great. thanks for coming back, sorry the comment form wouldn't let you comment on the other post.

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