How To Revive Geraniums? Overwintering Techniques in Paper Bags, Cardboard Box, and Greenhouse

Vibrant pink geranium with soft, ruffled petals, set against a blurred background of green foliage.

Oh no! Those once-vibrant geraniums in your garden are looking a little less than lively. Stop right there before you pull them out to make way for new plants! It’s to time to revive geraniums!

Bringing geraniums back to their former glory is doable with some TLC. These classic bloomers are more challenging than they look.

With a few easy revival tips, you can nurse those babies back to health for non-stop color all season long. I’ve got you covered, from strategic pruning and fertilizing to overwintering for next year’s show.

Wave goodbye to wilted leaves and leggy stems. Say hello to lush, gorgeous geraniums that’ll envy your neighborhood.

Are you curious about the secrets for reviving geraniums even after they’ve seen better days? We’re spilling all the tea in this guide to rejuvenating your geraniums for endless vibrant blooms.

How To Revive Geraniums?

Geraniums are a favorite among gardeners with their vibrant blooms and lush foliage. But what do you do when these robust plants start to look a little under the weather?

Fear not! Reviving your geraniums, including effective overwintering strategies, is a straightforward process. Let’s check the steps to bring back the vigor and beauty of your geraniums.

Pruning vibrant red geraniums to stimulate growth and encourage revival in the garden.

Assessing Your Geraniums

First, take a good look at your plants.

  • Are the leaves yellowing?
  • Are the stems weak or leggy?

Understanding the problem is the first step to solving it. Common issues include overwatering, insufficient light, or nutrient deficiencies.

Pruning and Deadheading

Begin by removing any dead or dying leaves and flowers. This process, known as deadheading, encourages new growth.

Pruning back leggy stems can also invigorate your geraniums, directing energy to healthier plant parts.

To trim back perennial geraniums, you need a pair of reliable shears. Cut them to 2 or 3 inches above the soil, at nodes or new growth points. Remove any leaves or extra flowers that remain.

Adjusting Watering Habits

Geraniums prefer their soil to be moist but not soggy. Overwatering can start root rot, a general issue with wilting geraniums.

Ensure your pots have good drainage, and let the soil dry out slightly between waterings.

Water your geraniums every 2-3 days during the hot and dry summer. However, in the cooler winter months, you can water them less often – once a week or less, depending on how dry the environment is.

Providing Adequate Sunlight

These plants love the sun! Place your geraniums in a spot where they receive at least six hours of sunlight daily. If they’re indoors, a south-facing window is ideal.

For outdoor plants, ensure they’re in a sunny spot, protected from harsh afternoon sun.

Fertilizing for Health

A balanced, water-soluble 15-15-15 fertilizer can give your geraniums the necessary nutrients. Apply it every four to six weeks during the growing season.

Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as this can do more harm than good.

Overwintering Geraniums

Protecting plants during the winter season is called “overwintering.” This technique is often used for tropical and semi-tropical plants that enhance the beauty of a garden during the summer months but cannot survive the cold winter months without some type of protection.

As fall approaches, it’s time to think about overwintering your geraniums. This process is crucial for regions with harsh winters. Here’s how to do it:

  • Before the First Frost: If your geraniums are in the ground, dig them up before the first frost. For potted plants, simply bring them indoors.
  • Pruning: Cut the plants 2 or 3 inches above the soil, at nodes or new growth points. Remove any leaves or extra flowers that remain. This helps them conserve energy during the dormant period.
  • Choosing the Right Spot: Place your geraniums in a cool, well-lit area. A sunny window in an unheated room is ideal. They need less light during winter, but some is still necessary.
  • Watering During Winter: Water sparingly in winter. The soil should be kept slightly moist but not wet.
  • Reintroducing in Spring: As the weather warms, gradually reintroduce your geraniums to the outdoors. Start by placing them outside for a few hours daily, gradually increasing their time out over a week or two.
A rustic pot holds a vibrant pink primrose, its yellow centers popping against lush green leaves, set against a soft pink backdrop, representing Geranium.

What To Do With Overwintered Geraniums In The Spring

In spring, it’s time to revive and prepare your overwintered geraniums for a beautiful blooming season:

  • Assess and Prune: Carefully inspect the plants. Remove any dead, yellowing, or diseased leaves and stems. Prune back overgrown or leggy stems to encourage bushier growth.
  • Repot (If Needed): If the geraniums are root-bound or the soil is depleted, repot them into slightly larger containers with fresh potting mix.
  • Gradual Acclimation: Slowly introduce the geraniums to outdoor conditions by placing them in a sheltered spot with indirect sunlight for a few hours each day. Gradually increase their exposure to sunlight over a week or two.
  • Watering and Fertilizing: Water the geraniums thoroughly but avoid overwatering, as soggy soil can lead to root rot. Once new growth appears, start fertilizing with a balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks.
  • Pest and Disease Control: Look for common geranium pests like aphids and spider mites. Treat any infestations promptly with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Planting Outdoors: Once the danger of frost has passed and nighttime temperatures consistently remain above 50°F (10°C), you can plant your geraniums outdoors in their desired location.

Overwintering Geraniums In A Cardboard Box

To overwinter geraniums in a cardboard box, follow these steps:

  • Prepare the geraniums: Dig up the geraniums before the first frost and remove as much dirt as possible. Inspect the plants for any moldy or rotted leaves or stems and remove them.
  • Place the geraniums in a cardboard box: Put the geraniums upside down in a cardboard box, leaving the lid loose enough for air circulation. You can place multiple geraniums in one box, but avoid packing them too tightly.
  • Store the geraniums in a cool, dry place: Store the box in a dark, cool area with a temperature of 45-50°F (7-10°C). Basements are excellent for this purpose but avoid storing the box on the floor to discourage mold. Do not tape the box; instead, fold it loosely to allow airflow.
  • Check the geraniums periodically: Open the box every couple of weeks for any signs of mold or other problems. If you find any, discard those plants.
  • Transplant the geraniums in spring: After overwintering, take them out of the box and prepare them for replanting. The plants might look shriveled and dry, but you should run into some green stems as you move closer to the roots. Prune the plants as needed and plant the roots in coarse, slightly moist potting soil.
  • Acclimate the geraniums to sunlight: Gradually expose the revived plants to sunlight and warm temperatures when moving them outside. Water the plants when the top inch of the soil is dry, and fertilize with a diluted liquid fertilizer. Put 15 ml of 7-7-7  fertilizer per 1 gallon of water.

Overwintering Geraniums In Paper Bags

Overwintering geraniums in paper bags is almost similar to overwintering in a cardboard box except for one step.

Put the geraniums upside down in a paper bag instead of a cardboard box, leaving the top open for air circulation. Store the bag in a cool (45 to 50 °F), dry location. You can put multiple geraniums in one bag, but avoid packing them too tightly.

Overwintering Geraniums In Unheated Greenhouse

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you successfully overwinter your geraniums in an unheated greenhouse:

  • Preparation Before the First Frost: Before the first frost hits, carefully dig up your geraniums from the garden. Try to keep as much of the root system intact as possible. Alternatively, if your geraniums are already in pots, you can simply move the pots into the greenhouse.
  • Pruning: Prune the geraniums back by about one-third to one-half. This helps reduce plant stress and encourages new growth in the spring. Remove dead or yellowing leaves and spent blooms to prevent rot and disease.
  • Inspect for Pests and Diseases: Before bringing them into the greenhouse, inspect each plant for signs of pests or diseases. Treat any issues accordingly to prevent spread.
  • Watering: Water the plants thoroughly before bringing them into the greenhouse. During the winter, geraniums will need less water since they are not actively growing. Let the soil dry out a bit between every watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot.
  • Placement in the Greenhouse: Place the geraniums in an area where they will receive ample light. Even in winter, geraniums require good light to stay healthy. Ensure enough space between the plants for air circulation, which helps prevent fungal diseases.
  • Temperature Monitoring: While geraniums are pretty hardy, they don’t tolerate freezing temperatures. Keep an eye on the greenhouse temperature. Ideally, it should not drop below freezing. If temperatures are forecasted to be particularly cold, consider using horticultural fleece or bubble wrap to insulate the plants.
  • Ventilation: On warmer days, ventilate the greenhouse to prevent overheating and reduce humidity. This helps prevent mold and mildew.
  • Regular Checks: Regularly check your geraniums for signs of stress, pests, or disease. Address any issues promptly.
  • Gradual Reintroduction in Spring: As the weather warms in spring, acclimate your geraniums to the outside conditions. This process, known as hardening off, involves taking the plants outside for a few hours each day and gradually increasing their time outdoors over a week or two.
  • Replanting or Potting Up: Once the danger of frost has passed, you can replant your geraniums in the garden or repot them if they’ve outgrown their current containers.

Can I Overwinter Geraniums In Garage

you can absolutely overwinter geraniums in a garage, as long as a few conditions are met:

  • Temperature: The garage temperature should ideally stay above 45°F (7°C). Geraniums can tolerate cooler temperatures but are susceptible to frost damage. If your garage gets colder, consider adding insulation or a heat source to protect the plants.
  • Light: Geraniums need some light to survive the winter. While they don’t require full sun, a window or supplemental lighting will help them stay healthy.
  • Moisture: Keep the soil slightly moist but not soggy. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so check the soil before watering. Reduce watering frequency during the winter, as the plants will be dormant.

Methods for Overwintering in Garage

  • Pots: If your geraniums are already in pots, you can move them into the garage and trim back the foliage by about one-third.
  • Dormant Storage: Dig up geraniums from the ground, shake off excess soil, and trim back foliage and roots. Hang them upside down or store them in paper bags in a cool, dark garage area.
  • Bare Root Storage: This method removes all soil and stores the bare roots in a cool, dry place.

Additional Tips

Check on your geraniums periodically during the winter to ensure they are healthy. In spring, gradually acclimate the plants to outdoor conditions before planting them back in the garden or containers.

Final Words

Are your geraniums looking tired and lifeless? Don’t give up on them just yet!

We’ve got the inside scoop on how to revitalize them for a nonstop display of beautiful blossoms. By assessing these common issues, adjusting care, pruning back stems, and properly overwintering plants, you can bring your geraniums back better than ever.

Even when those lovely blooms start to fade, don’t lose hope! Have confidence that with a little TLC, you can restore the vigor and beauty of your geraniums year after year.

Now that you’re armed with expert geranium revival info, it’s time to take action. Start assessing those plants and get ready to revive your geraniums with our tried and true techniques.

Find more useful information in our comprehensive guide about plant displays.


  • Lydia Beaumont

    Lydia Beaumont is a go-to expert in interior design, known for her knack for stylish table settings, blending houseplants seamlessly with home decor, and designing inviting outdoor spaces. She has a real talent for making spaces look stunning while keeping them comfortable and livable. Lydia's creative touch brings a fresh and vibrant feel to any room or garden she works on.

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