As a seasoned gardener in Alberta, I’m well aware that the harsh winters can be challenging for maintaining vibrant garden plants like geraniums. Geraniums, with their bright blooms and fragrant leaves, are a staple in many summer gardens, but as the cold sets in, these tender perennials need special care to survive until spring.

bud, flower, beautiful flowers

My experience has taught me that successfully overwintering geraniums isn’t just about keeping them alive; it’s about preserving their beauty and vitality for the next season of growth.

One effective method I use is allowing the geraniums to enter a state of dormancy. Before the first frost arrives, I carefully dig up my pelargoniums—that’s the botanical name for what we commonly call geraniums—and gently shake the soil from their roots. It is crucial to let the roots dry for a few days to prevent mold growth during storage. Once dry, I store the dormant plants in a dark, cool, and dry place where the temperature remains consistent, ideally around 50°F (10°C). This temperature range helps ensure that the roots stay dormant without freezing.

In the weeks leading up to spring, I keep a close eye on my overwintered geraniums. Watering them minimally every two to three weeks and maintaining a semi-dormant state is key. The goal is to keep the soil barely moist to prevent the roots from completely drying out. Come spring, I anticipate the perfect moment when these beloved plants will once again be ready to grace my garden with their lush foliage and vibrant blossoms.

Caring for Geraniums Throughout the Seasons

In Alberta, where the climate ranges from warm summers to freezing winters, specific care for geraniums is essential for their year-round success. I’ll guide you through fostering their growth during the warmer months and preparing them for overwintering as temperatures drop.

Fostering Growth in Spring and Summer

With the arrival of spring, I ensure my geraniums receive the right mix of water, light, and fertilizer to maximize their growth.

Spring and Summer Care:

  • Watering: I water my geraniums deeply but allow the soil to dry out between sessions to prevent root rot.
  • Light: Geraniums thrive in full sun with at least 6 hours of direct light daily in Alberta.
  • Fertilizer: I use a balanced fertilizer every four weeks to encourage blooming.

💥 Key Point: Consistent care in these months sets the stage for robust plants that can withstand winter.

Preparing Geraniums for Overwintering

As the Alberta fall approaches, I start preparing my geraniums for the harsh winter ahead. The key is to anticipate the first frost and begin the overwintering process beforehand.

Fall Preparation:

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  • Reduce watering: I cut back on watering as the temperature drops to gradually acclimate the plants to their dormant state.
  • Light: I ensure they still receive plenty of light until they are brought indoors.
  • Pruning: Trimming geraniums back can help them conserve energy throughout the dormancy period.


When the time comes to bring the geraniums inside for the winter, I opt for one of two methods: repotting and growing them as houseplants, where they will need ample sunlight and cool temperatures between 55 to 65°F, or storing them dormant as bare-root plants. If the latter, I carefully dig them up, remove excess soil, and store in a cool, dark space, ensuring they stay dry to avoid rot.

⚠️ A Warning

Always check your geraniums for pests before bringing them indoors – it’s crucial.

Through careful planning and attentiveness to the needs of geraniums, it’s entirely possible to enjoy these vibrant plants year after year, even in a challenging climate like Alberta’s.

Overwintering Methods for Geraniums

As someone living in Alberta, I’ve found success in keeping my geraniums thriving through the tough winters by employing two key overwintering methods.

Utilizing Containers for Indoor Overwintering

Firstly, taking my potted geraniums indoors before the first frost ensures that they’re not damaged by the severe cold. I select a sunny window that will allow the plants to continue receiving ample light, mimicking their natural environment as closely as possible. It’s crucial to maintain a consistent temperature within a comfortable range—too much heat can be just as detrimental as the cold they face outside. Moisture levels need monitoring as well, ensuring the soil is not overly wet, which could promote mold growth.

Storing Geraniums in Dormancy

⚠️ A Warning

For the second method, I prepare my geraniums for dormancy. This involves removing them from the soil, shaking off excess dirt, and then placing them in a cardboard box or a paper bag with some holes for air circulation. I store these dormant, bare-rooted geraniums in my basement where the environment is cool, dark, and dry, with temperatures consistently above freezing but not so high that the plants might come out of dormancy too early.

To maintain the right moisture levels and prevent the roots from completely drying out, I occasionally mist them. However, I’m cautious not to encourage moisture buildup as this can cause mold. By spring, the geraniums will often look wilted but reviving them is typically straightforward. When warmer temperatures return, I rehydrate the roots and plant them again, to flourish for another season.

Propagating and Preventing Pests

In Alberta’s cold months, successfully propagating geraniums indoors and keeping them pest-free ensures robust growth for the next season. Here, I’ll share specific techniques for taking cuttings and managing common geranium pests.

Techniques for Taking Cuttings

When I take cuttings, I select healthy mother plants and use a clean, sharp knife or scissors. The process goes as follows:

  1. Cut Stem: I make a cut for a 4-6 inch stem segment, just below a leaf node.
  2. Prepare Cutting: I remove leaves from the lower half and sometimes apply rooting hormone to the cut end to encourage root growth.
  3. Plant Cutting: The stem is then planted in moist potting mix, with the bottom half submerged.
  4. Ensure Proper Conditions: I maintain the humidity around the cuttings by covering them with a plastic bag, making sure they’re in indirect light and warm conditions.

Tip: I check the cuttings regularly and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged to prevent rot.

Managing Common Geranium Pests

Geranium pests such as aphids and spider mites can harm overwintering plants. Here’s how I handle them:

Pest Identification Control Methods
Aphids Small, pear-shaped insects clustering on new growth. Rinsing plants with water or using insecticidal soap.
Spider Mites Tiny, spider-like pests causing yellow stippling on leaves. Increasing humidity and employing predatory insects like ladybugs.

Key Point: Both pests can be controlled naturally or with approved insecticides, but I always start with the least harmful methods, like water sprays for aphids and raising humidity for mites before moving on to chemical solutions.

Ensuring Geranium Health and Beauty

Geraniums are versatile blooms that can enhance any gardener’s space throughout Alberta’s growing season. I find that to ensure their health and beauty, especially through our harsh winters, a few key practices come in handy.

Overwintering is Crucial. I prune them back by half before the first frost and carefully dig them up. For containers, I allow the plants to go dormant and store them in their pots. True geraniums, or hardy geraniums, are perennial and often survive outdoors, but I give annual geraniums special attention to ensure their return after winter.

To be more succinct with feeding instructions: I abstain from feeding in the winter months to avoid encouraging growth when the plants are in a restful state. Watering needs diminish too, but I keep the soil slightly moist.

💥 Disease Prevention

Maintaining a vigilant eye on my overwintering geraniums is imperative for disease prevention. I ensure the space is cool, dry, and boasts a stable temperature to discourage mold and rot.

As for blooming, geraniums usually bloom in the spring and summer. To maximize this period, I begin reintroducing them to the outdoors gradually, watch the weather, and protect them from late frosts. This transitional period is vital for acclimatizing them back into the garden, ensuring they have the strength to bloom vividly.

By keeping these tips in mind, I’ve enjoyed the beauty of geraniums year after year.

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