Overwintering geraniums is easy, if you follow these simple steps

'Tis the season to start overwintering geraniums...

The area around the house is decorated with red geraniums in pots and watering cans
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Overwintering geraniums – aka pelargonsjuka – has well and truly cemented a place for itself on our list of must-try garden ideas.

It's an age-old concept for many gardeners, of course, but the art of coddling our geraniums became a seriously hot garden trend earlier this year when it was dubbed one of several Scandi garden design ideas worth stealing.

So, how do we go about this then?

Overwintering geraniums: a how-to guide

'Also known by their horticultural name of pelargonium, geraniums are one of our most popular summer plants,' says Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries. 

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants, which he established after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex in 1992.

Terrace detail with red Pelargonium on wooden tray table. New England Style renovation.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes Photography)

Noting that they hail from warmer, drier climates, Morris explains that the key to overwintering geraniums is to keep them dry and frost free.

However, there are several different methods of overwintering available to you, which are as follows:

1. Bring them indoors as houseplants

Perhaps the most famous form of overwintering geraniums, you'll be pleased to hear that you can 'keep the same plants from one year to the next by bringing them inside about six weeks before the first frost,' says Morris.

A closeup of potted flowers on the windowsill, including geraniums and pelargoniums

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes Photography)

If your geraniums are already in pots, you can keep them as is: let the pots go fairly dry (but without drying out completely) and bring them indoors for overwintering. 

If your geraniums are planted in your garden borders, however, Chris Bonnett, founder of GardeningExpress.co.uk, says you can absolutely dig them out and pot them up with fresh soil.

'You’ll want to prune the plants by half to encourage growth next spring,' he adds. 

Either way, overwintering geraniums as houseplants means finding them a spot on a sunny windowsill (ideally around 12°-18°C), watering them only when the soil becomes dry to touch. 

2. Take cuttings

Fun fact: learning how to take geranium cuttings is absolutely a form of overwintering geraniums. Who knew, eh?

3. Bare root storage

Geraniums being prepared for bare root overwintering

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Only suitable for overwintering geraniums with thick, woody stems, this method demands that you:

  • lift plants from the ground before the first frosts
  • shake excess soil/compost away from the roots
  • dry them off
  • wrap them in newspaper or paper bags and hang them upside down from the ceiling (alternative: place them in cardboard boxes)
  • check on them every few weeks and moisten them
  • inspect them in the early spring for new growth; discard those without any
  • soak them in water for a few hours
  • pot them up and cut back all stems to about 10cm 
  • water sparingly and keep them in a greenhouse until they're ready to be hardened off and planted outdoors

4. Cool storage

Pink geraniums/pelargonium flowers bathed in sunlight on shelves in a Victorian glasshouse

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another riskier method of overwintering geraniums, this one asks that you cut the plant back by one-third to one-half, wrap their pots in bubble-wrap, water deeply, and stash them in an unheated greenhouse or shed.

Some people prefer to cover their plant babies with a garden fleece like this one from Amazon, just as an extra precaution. 

Whether you do or not, keep checking them for signs of disease, keep the temperature at around 2 to 4°C, and water sparingly when they show signs of drying out.

Personally, we're fondest of the first method for overwintering geraniums, as it means we get to enjoy them and coddle them for longer. How about you?

What is plant overwintering?

The clue's in the name with this one! Overwintering means protecting your plants to try and keep them alive over... well, over the winter. You can do this with many different types of plant, including geraniums and dahlias, but each will have very different needs as a result.

What is the best way to keep geraniums over winter?

If you don't have lots of geraniums, the easiest way to keep them alive over winter is to make like the Swedish and bring them indoors as house plants. Find them a bright spot (a sunny windowsill is ideal), water them sparingly, and get ready to plant them out next spring.

Just be sure to harden them off first, either by using a cold frame or, alternatively, wrapping them in fleece and popping them in a sheltered spot.

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.