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Preserving geraniums for next spring planting

Preserving geraniums for next spring planting


Old 11-03-00, 10:56 AM
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I have been searching for topic #426 on infosrce dealing with preservation of some valuable geranium plants. Would you please assist me as to how I should go about doing this? Thank you.
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Old 11-04-00, 10:32 PM
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Your best source of information needs to be local so it can tie into your climate and also the conditions you have available i.e. indoors. In addition, it is always good to have someone right there at hand who can help you if your plants seem to be running into trouble.

The best way to perpetuate a geranium (Pelargonium) is by taking cuttings but this is a bad time of year to try it. It's late in the year in most climates as the cuttings should be taken from green wood and most plants now have mature, hardened growth.

There are many books on propagation but most get so technical that you end up saying "huh". A good basic book is Plant Propagation by Philip McMillan Browse. It is down to earth, illustrated nicely, and step-by-step. If not available at your local library ask your library to get it for you on inter-library loan.

As a commercial grower I had the ability to bring mine into a greenhouse where all of the plant's needs could be met including light level, humidity control, temperature, etc. This is more difficult to do in a home setting but not impossible.

Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office via http://www.reeusda.gov/1700/statepartners/usa.htm. Click on your state, then your county, then locate your local office.

You can also contact your locally owned nursery (not big box store nursery) for local professional advice. These are also good people to get to know as they get bored with the usual and tend to have sources for the less commonly available plants. Your question makes me think this is a direction that may interest you.

In addition, you can enter International Geranium Society (or just geranium) in your search engine. Though this is not local you may be surprised and find a society member near you.

Also, contact your local garden club. The men and women who are members are usually so helpful and since they are experienced gardeners and local they are quite frequently an excellent source of assistance and information. You might even find a local member whose plant passion is the same as yours with whom you can not only exchange information but also plants to increase your collection.

You used the term "valuable geranium" plants so I am assuming that you mean the "tender genus of the Pelargonium" and not the hardy geranium. In your search you might use the term Pelargonium if you are referring to such varieties as Martha Washington, Lady Washington, etc. as these are really pelargoniums and that may help you find what you are looking for.

Specifically, pelargoniums can be propagated by cuttings, brought into the house (watch for leaf drop and insects, or use the method my girlfriend used.

Frankly I've never done this but she had luck with it and I notice that the procedure is also listed on p. 225 of the book Crockett's Victory Garden by James Underwood Crockett. If you are intent on saving the whole plant and it is a pelargonium (not seed grown) this is the old time way of doing it. You can obtain or take a look at the book and your local library.

It does require a cool, humid room with good ventilation. A root cellar (dirt cellar) was used. Due to our modern homes and the absence of root cellars this method is seldom used anymore.

Be aware that whatever method you use you may or may not have success. You could lose some or all of the plants. With luck and a green thumb they'll all make it.

Best - Ladybug
Old 11-22-00, 01:40 PM
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Where I live first frost is mid September. I cover my geraniums for about two weeks or so every night so I can enjoy them longer but time comes when its just too cold for them.

One technique I've used for about eight years with a fair amount of success is to simply dig the plants out of the ground keeping as much of the soil around the rootball. Place the plants in a cardboard box with the bottom of the box sealed with tape (this isn't necessary but it does cut down on the amount of dirt that falls out of the box.) Place the box in a cool basement (here in Canada our basement temperatures are around 54-58 degrees F). After all the foliage dies cover the dead looking plants with one or two sheets of newspaper.

Do not water them but check the plants from time to time to see if any little yellow leaves have started to form (usually in February here). Carefully knock off the old soil from the roots, plant in a good quality potting soil, prune off any hollow stems and to shape them, move to a sunny window and start watering. By mid May they're back in the garden blooming away.

Its hard to believe that most will come back after this treatment since they look like dead sticks when they are potted up. Some die but then that's an excuse to cruise the garden centres in the spring.

This technique allows me to carry over most of my geraniums without taking up all my window space and block the winter sun from coming into the house.

If you're trying this for the first time I would take some cuttings from the plants so that not all of your eggs are in one basket.

Good Luck!


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