How I Prepare Geraniums for Winter-Bloom

WHEN IT COMES TO OVERWINTERING GERANIUMS, I refuse to be saddled with tired, old, monster-size plants. I want fresh, young geraniums that are eager to grow, and which are small enough to serve decorative duty in the window garden. Do you want what I want? Then let me show you how, exactly, to prepare these popular summer plants for winter-beauty indoors.

Mid-August — or at least 6 weeks before the first expected frost — is a good time to restore and propagate zonal and scented-leaved geraniums.  This gives the plants ample time to recover from root-trauma, and for cut stems to form roots before the big outdoors-to-in transition.

The following restoration and propagation procedures have never failed me:

When you are dealing with a zonal geranium that has grown all summer  (such as ‘Puritan White’, above), the first step is to cut the plant back to within an inch of its life, or to the point where the lowest leaves can be found. Be brutal here.

This is what your plant should look like after removing nearly all of the top growth.

Next, knock the geranium from its pot. To do this in a “professional manner,” place one hand over the top of the plant, where it can support the soil and top growth. Then invert the pot, and, holding the bottom of the pot with your other hand, bang the rim against a hard surface.

Don’t be delicate here — bang firmly!

The plant will pop right out of its pot, and into your waiting hand.

You will probably discover the plant is horribly root-bound. We’re going to fix this.

Using a serrated knife, slice off two-thirds of the roots. The amount of roots you remove should be in direct proportion to the now-missing foliage.

Toss the severed roots onto the compost pile.

Then, as pictured above, make vertical cuts to slice through soil and roots. The goal is to be able to center the plant in its old pot, but with a one-half or one-inch gap between the existing soil and the walls of the original pot.

I hope that last above sentence made sense to you.

Now take a good look at your geranium. Do you see any dead or rotting stems?  Cut these off. You’ll need only three or four stems which show signs of life.

Place a piece of broken pottery over the old pot’s drainage hole…

Then add fresh potting mixture to come approximately half-way up the sides of the pot.

Now center the plant in its pot. If centering seems impossible,  just cut away more roots and soil to create a rounded shape.

Fill in the gap between roots and pot with fresh potting mixture…

And then firm it down with a paint stick, a Popsicle stick, or a plant label (as above).

Properly potted, there will be a one-inch opening between the soil surface and the top of the pot to allow for water.

Soak the plant thoroughly, until excess moisture escapes through the drainage hole. Rinse off any soil which is clinging to the leaves.

And that’s it! You now have a newly-restored geranium which will give you pleasure all winter and beyond.

Now, what to do with all the stems we cut ? Well, each of these can become a new plant.

Trim the stems to 3 inches in length.

Then set the stems aside for a few hours (or even a few days) to permit their cut end to dry, or “callus.” A callused cut is not likely to rot.

Remove the lower 2 inches of leaves from each stem.

Remove also the stipules, or little flaps along the stem. These can rot in damp soil.

No photo for these next three steps, because I don’t think you need them: Take a 4-inch clay pot, and place a piece of broken pottery over its drainage hole. Then fill the pot with fresh mixture.

Insert a pencil in the center of the soil, to a depth which approximates the length of your cutting.

Place the stem in the pencil-dibbled hole…

And then firmly pack the soil down with your thumbs. Or “thumb,” if you are holding a camera while you work.

If, after pressing down, the soil level drops more than one inch below the top of the pot, just add a little more mixture and re-adjust the stem.

Water the plant thoroughly (until excess drips through the drainage hole). Should signs of wilting occur, simply mist the leaves once or twice each day until roots form. You will know that your cuttings have rooted when new growth becomes evident.

Set the plant in a bright but sunless location outdoors. Once roots have formed, you can give the youngsters a position that receives half-day sun (or full-day sun in a window garden).

And by the way, you can use these same restoring and propagating procedures for scented leaved geraniums. Sadly, these are becoming rare lately, so propagating them is the only way sure way to have them from year to year. Pictured above is my rose-scented ‘Lady Plymouth.’  You can crush the leaves of this variety, and add them to your bath water. You can also steep the leaves in full-fat milk, and then use the milk to make scented icing for cakes and cupcakes.

If you browse the houseplants category on this website, you’ll find pictures of scented-leaved and big-flowered geraniums displayed in my various winter window gardens over the years. In December, 2011, lavender-pink ‘Americana’ made a handsome sight in my Music Room window.

‘America’ looks lovely in my Herb Garden, too. Here, it recently attracted a hummingbird moth.

Indoor Culture: To achieve indoor success, give your geraniums all the direct sunlight an east or south window will afford. Restored plants can bloom as early as December, while plants grown from cuttings usually won’t set buds until the days lengthen in February or March. Pictured above: Zonal, scented-leaved, and fancy-leaved geraniums in my Library/Den window in February, 2008.

No east or south window for you? Place the plants under fluorescent lights. Illuminated for 16 hours per day, I can tell you that zonal geraniums will bloom in winter almost as well as they do in summer.

Once the plants are growing, I encourage bloom with a high-phosphorous, low-nitrogen plant food. The window garden subjects are fed at the rate of one 1/4 teaspoon formula per gallon of water. I increase the food to one 1/2 teaspoon for the window garden plants, because they receive such long hours of light.

Well. I hope this tutorial was useful to you in some small measure. Perhaps you will let me know by leaving a comment. As always, your words are the sunshine of my life.

Don’t miss anything at A Garden for the House…sign up for Kevin’s weekly updates.

Related Posts:
How to Design a Window Garden
How I Propagate Petunias for Winter-Bloom
A Walk in the Early-August Garden


  1. Sybil Strawser says:

    I may have to try this!! I put my large pot of geraniums in the garage last year over winter…occasionally watering and they came back in spring. Had no idea I could have them blooming in the house in winter. My windows would be facing northwest…guess I will need a light.

  2. myrtle miller says:

    Phosporus is not good for the ocean. If I remember correctly it depletes oxygen. In 1993 a law was passed that banned it’s use in washing powder. I wonder if you use phosporus in a plant if it can be present in the pollen and hurt pollinators like bees. For sure it has a negative impact on the ocean and thus ocean life. Sorry for the gray cloud. No sunshine here…. I think your plants are beautiful and your page has added immeasurable sunshine to my life….

  3. Denise Hayes says:

    this was very useful to me! I have a geranium that was given to me last year when my brother passed and I brought it in for the winter. It survived and is still growing and blooming but not very well. I will definitely be doing this to it soon. Thank you, Kevin.

  4. I already have my petunias rooting for winter bloom. (VERY exciting.) And I will now revive some very prolific (but somewhat tired) geraniums, as per your simple, friendly, instructions. I so love this blog.

  5. myrtle miller says:

    This is a good article on the effects of nitrogen and phosphorus on the ocean and ocean life.
    A natural source of nitrogen is rainwater and for gardeners that have gutters there are ways to transport this water to your garden. I’m sure with adequate thought and planning something can be invented that would not only collect rainwater but transport it to a large garden. It’s kind of hard to decide between beautiful plants and ocean life but think dolphins and manatees and this will help. With this I will stop because I respect an individuals’ right to garden without being lectured….

  6. You always come up with projects that are doable in scale and scope, and can be enjoyed over a several-month period. Thank you for all the inspiration.

  7. Hi, Mr. Kevin! I’ve already got some really good geranium slips going and plan on doing even more this weekend. I tried the petunia cuttings and did everything you said but none of them made it. :( Despite keeping them moist and misting them daily, every single cutting dried up and died on me. The only difference with the petunias vs. the geraniums is that I kept the geraniums outside and brought the tunies inside. Do you think I should try more petunia slips but keep them outside for awhile?

  8. Hi Tris – Yep, let the petunias root outdoors in a bright but sunless location.

  9. Bonnie Strautmann says:

    Excellent! I have several geraniums, some from my mother who passed away in 1995. Every winter I just bring them inside, put them insouth facing windows, and water once a month. They keep blooming, but they get very tall and not so pretty. I will definitely give this a try. Thank you!

  10. Lauren Lawson says:

    Now I know what my poor geraniums need. Thanks!

  11. Hi
    I have a zebra plant for about a year it is growing very tall. Once in a while the bottom leaves turn yellow and i cut it off. I have it in front of a window and I water it when it needs it. Why are the leaves drooping? Thankyou

  12. Hello from Washington State,
    I am a avid Geranium lover and would like to find some scented plants to grow. Do you have any suggestions where to purchase them?
    I have in the past suffered with little gnats on my houseplants during winter. Once having to toss all the geraniums and their soil because it was awful. Recently I found a product made by”Hot Shot” that can hang or sit that emits a vapor to kill flying and crawling insects that works great. Thought I would share!
    Enjoy your news letter.

  13. Bev Grosse says:

    Kevin, should I add the phosphorous every time I water?
    I love your newsletters and site. Especially the detailed photo instructions. Thanks so much.


  14. Good morning , Kevin….I got my 2 shelves cut for my south facing computer room window last week….now i think I will have to go back and get more cut some for the east facing living room for the added geraniums….one can never have enough flowers blooming in the house over the winter….and, of course, that gives us plants ready to go for the next spring………..thank you so much… this project…can hardly wait to see how it turns out!
    Vancouver Island

  15. Hi Jeanne – I’ve found the Zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) to be tricky to grow –it demands the high humidity of a jungle! Leaves can wither if the soil is permitted to dry out between waterings. Better to keep the soil consistently moist.

    Hi Sandra from Washington State – The scented-leaved geraniums are becoming increasingly-rare. Consequently if you find one, be sure to propagate it! Many years ago I purchased (via mail-order) apple, nutmeg, lemon, and other scented varieties from Logees in Danielson, CT. You can visit their website:

    Hi Bev Grosse – My plants seem to do better when I feed them with every watering.

    Jo-Anne – Congratulations — I’m sure you’ll enjoy your window garden(s)!

  16. I’m very excited about this post, but then most of your posts excite me. Each year I do bring in my geraniums and they have gotten straggly over the years. So, your lesson on doing it right makes a big difference. Thank you so much.

  17. This is very helpful because my geraniums get too stringy in the window in the winter. I have not fertilized. I am also encouraged by JoAnne and Sandra because they live in the same sunless region as I do. (Seattle.) This month I will cut them back and take cuttings, and then I will fertilize. But not enough that will drain off and run into the ocean. I will keep it in the pot.

  18. In the past I found that if the geraniums bloomed during the winter, they were extremely slow to bloom once I returned them to the garden in the summer. Have you had this problem? Also, I will be bringing in geraniums that have been in the ground. I’m assuming your process works the same as if they have been in pots.

  19. Sara in Indiana says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I have an ivy leaf geranium that I would like to try to propagate over the winter as you describe. I was also wondering, do you pinch the cuttings back as they grow to keep them bushy, or is this not necessary? Thanks for all the great tips and news!

  20. Hi Kevin-

    great post as always, I would like to try to keep my geraniums for next summer- should I take cuttings now for winter blooming, (I’m now obsessed with the idea of red geraniums on the Christmas table), but then also cut back the mother plants and pinch off any winter blooms to make sure they bloom again next summer?

  21. Awesome! Thanks so much! Looking forward to doing this your way this year. I’ve been bringing in a giant geranium and a giant leggy scented geranium I’ve had for years.. I love them but they’re such a pain to find homes for in the winter… This should fix that!
    Thanks a mill!

  22. Beverly, zone 6 eastern PA says:

    I want to know about that knife you are using to slice the rootball! It looks enormous. Be careful! The medium sized knife I use in the garden was removed from a parolee arrested by my husband many years ago. This knife had a secret compartment hidden in the handle, presumably to hold contraband of some sort. I have abused this tool at length and it still does the job. I’m going to look for it now to work on my geranium, and don’t get in my way.

  23. I’m lucky. I am in SW Colorado (13,800 ft elevation) and my geraniums are quite happy on the deck from mid-June to mid-September. Then, I take them with me to southern Arizona and they spend the fall and spring there on my patin. During the “winter” months in Arizona, they are either covered well on the patio or join me in the kitchen. I constantly make new plants from these.

    In 2002 my Mom visited us in Colorado and brought me a pink geranium from Ohio. It is still thriving and since she passed away in 2012, it is a nice on-going reminder of her.

    Geraniums were a “welcome” gift when people moved to these Rocky Mountain early mining towns; ladies would take a flowering start to a newcomer. They will bloom all winter if kept in a sunny window.

  24. Thank you so much! I have always wanted to winter over my geraniums and this year I have a very special one that my Mother loved on. Mom passed away 1 1/2 months ago and while I am so sad, she still inspires me. Thank you for also inspiring me today.

  25. Oh, my question is, at what point do you bring them indoors for the winter?

  26. Maria – Good news for you. Through propagation efforts, your mother’s geranium will live forever.

    Beverly – I use that big serrated knife for all my “plant surgeries.” But I want the knife that you have. A secret compartment in the handle? Cool.

    Hi Maria – I bring mine indoors at the end of September, and before frost. And please stay tuned — in a week or two, I’ll do a complete post on the garden-to-house transition.

  27. Great article. I’m going to try this technique. I am wondering if the same procedures might work for bringing potted rosemary and lavender here in Alaska. They are beautiful on my deck, and I have been unsuccessful in transitioning them inside before.


  28. Thanks so much for the steps by step propagation method for geraniums, Kevin. Looking forward to giving it a try.

  29. Thanks for the info to locate scented geraniums, and all the tips on enjoying geraniums all year.

  30. Thanks Kevin–I will definitely try your method. In the past I’ve overwintered geraniums by uprooting them and keeping them in a paper bag in the garage, then repotting and cutting them back in March, keeping them on a south facing windowsill until last frost. This works fairly well–sometimes–but your method sounds even better. And we get to enjoy them all winter long as well :-) Your blog is a highlight of my week.

  31. Great article. I have tried rooting geraniums in the past with mixed success. Rot was my biggest problem. I never tried letting them get a callus but I will definitely try that this year.

  32. Bonjour Kevin,

    This is an excellent tutorial.

    I’d not been able to keep geraniums alive past May here in AZ (probably because of the heat) but will try your method starting in late March/April when the plants are still strong and temperatures below 100.
    I had some beautiful dark pink geraniums that ended up on the compost pile this year.
    Love scented geraniums too but haven’t been successful with those either.

    I’ll share a tip I read in Mother Earth news: if you do not have chards/gravel for the drainage hole on your pots, used coffee filters work well and can be dumped on the compost pile ( I use non bleached filters).

    Lastly, what a beautiful photo of the moth!

    Comme toujours, merci.

  33. Naomi Shelton says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this tutorial, Kevin. I love the “frugality” aspect of it! Free plants for next Spring! All the things you teach and tell us about on your web-site are not always new ideas, but ones that have somehow fallen by the wayside in our hurly-burly, faster-faster culture. I like reviving some of the simple, economical practices of youre. Thanks for your help in doing so. Have a wonderful week. Play as much as possible!

  34. I’ve been doing this with my geraniums for a few of years now and it’s great to have plants ready to go in the gardens the following Spring. If your plants get a little leggy over the winter, go ahead and take more cuttings and pot them up too. This will help the plants get bushier and give you even more plants.

  35. Sara in Indiana says:

    Thank you, Behold, for sort of answering my question about pinching for bushiness–I guess Kevin did not see my question or did not think it was worthy of a reply (too bad I am not Joan Crawford!). Your idea of rooting what you “pinch” off is even better in that you will end up with more flowers. Thanks!

  36. Sara – So sorry I missed your question! With cuttings, I pinch out the first new growth to encourage branching. As for the ivy-leaved geranium, or Pelargonium peltatum, I’ve overwintered this one many times. Give it the same treatment as described above — remove most of the top growth, and an equal proportion of roots. Then repot in fresh mixture. You can root cuttings of this fine plant, too. Cutting back any of these plants will cause new side-shoots to form.

  37. Sara in Indiana says:

    Thank you, Kevin.

  38. Admiring the time and effort youu put into youur website and detailed information you provide.
    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the saame old
    rehashed information. Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS
    feeds to my Google account.

  39. Hi Kevin

    Thanks for the geranium-rooting tips :-) I’ve become so lazy with my lovelies that I’ve been rooting some of them in yogurt cups full of water–which also makes me a mosquito breeder. Time to clean up my act!

    I’ve purchased lots of different varieties of “smellargonium” online from “Hobbs Farm & Greenery” in Maine via Be sure to have a look-see…

  40. I tried to sign up for your newsletter but it would not accept any of the crazy words you have to type in. Can you add me to your list?

  41. Susie – Your wish is my command.

  42. Hi Dear, are you genuinely visiting this website regularly,
    if so after that you will absolutely get pleasant

  43. I just thought I’d share a few sources of scented pelargoniums (geraniums) I’ve ordered from in the past with good success. I have recently discovered and have read glowing reviews of them. They have an amazing selection of scenteds and other pelargoniums and geraniums, including some really lovely blue varieties. Their plants are said to be suprrisingly large and well-established, sometimes blooming when they arrive. of Georgia also looks like a good source of scenteds.

    I have several scenteds struggling along in their pots. Would mid winter be a bad time to prune them down some?

  44. Thanks to your helpful tutorial, I now have lovely white geraniums blooming in my windowsill on this dreary January day!! I am going to share some with friends on Valentine’s Day. I took both cuttings and divisions of the plant. I found much more success (and blooms) with the cuttings. Thank you so much for brightening my winter windowsill!!

  45. Hello Kevin,

    I just found your website! Beautiful layout and clear instructions with gorgeous photos! I was wondering why my overwintering geraniums get yellow leaves at the bottom (usually) of the plants. I just pull them off, not a big deal since the plants always grow more shoots. The blooms are great color and brighten my environment two to four times during the cabin fever months. I have these in pots in an east window and water them once per week. I also have the glass water globes stuck in the soil, one or two per plant depending on its size. Do you think I’m giving them too much water? Or, maybe the window area is too cold during winter-time. We heat our home with electric heat and a wood stove.

    I am excited about reading more on your site. Especially about overwintering petunias, which I had no idea you could do until last year when an acquaintance mentioned to me that she does it every year. My only problem would be space if they need a lot of light. Thanks for the great tips!


  46. Hi Kevin,
    Just read through your geranium tutorial. I am looking forward to using these steps mid august. My only question is: once the geranium is cut back etc and re potted in August, do you keep the plants outside, or bring them inside.
    Thanks for clarifying for me.
    You are awesome,

  47. Hi Laura – Yellowing leaves can be the result of several factors, including too-low humidity, too much or too little water, not enough light, or a lack of nutrients. In your case, I suspect both desert-dry air and over-watering. Provide moisture only when the top inch of soil looks and feels dry (stick your finger in the soil to be sure). To boost humidity, I’d set the plants on a tray of pebbles and water.

    Hi Susan – Here in (cold) zone 5-b, zonal geraniums are not hardy. Consequently I bring them indoors in mid-September.

  48. Gail Gordon says:

    Thank you for this post. I have four ancient (15+) years old mother geraniums. I have successfully grown many plants by cuttings from these four. I have several rooting right now. However, these four ladies needed to be propagated and I knew there was a method but I had to really search for your site. You described it exactly as I remembered it. Since I live in NM and receive plenty of winter sun, I too overwinter my plants. Thanks for refreshing my memory.

    Tijeras, NM

  49. Brandy Hovonick says:

    I have done this several times and it does work. I have geraniums that get super tall and gangly, and cutting them down and repotting them gives me lots of new plants. I have found though that housebound geraniums do not do well being put back outside as they get acclimated to sun exposure and regulated temps. So once I bring them in, in they stay.

  50. Susan L. Golden says:

    A day late and a whole pile of geranium cuttings short! I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong when my cuttings all rotted, but obviously letting the bottom scab over was a step I didn’t know about! However, I do NOW and I have all sorts of plants I bought this year that will be donating cuttings for attempt #2! I haven’t too much space in the house for larger plants near windows, but I want to use them for next year, rather than start over with all new plants. Minimal flowering is ok as long as the plant lives. As usual, Kevin, you are a life saver for those of us on limited gardening budgets, trying to keep our plants alive (fighting fungus with milk is on this afternoon’s agenda) or create new plants from those we have (I am drowning ~ delightfully ~ in African Violet ‘plantlets’, thanks to your tutorial). I also have a new window shelving unit (copy cat that I am) that I built which has brightened up my blah center dining room window now that it is FULL of blooming African Violets! What would I do without you?! Thanks so much Kevin!

  51. Perveez jamaji says:

    Hi Kevin, your tutorial for the geraniums is really helpfu,I have geraniums that were bought in1988 that still bloom. From the two I bought I made eight new plants. The old ones get leggy and don’t produce many blooms, still I take them indoors in winter, and keep them in a sunny window. This time I am trying your method, cutting the root ball in half and rejuvenating the the old uglies. This year I bought two orange ones that are new, and are beautiful.I shall try propagating more of those much to my husband’s consternation, we live on the outskirts of Montreal, the summers are too short, but I bring in lots of plants indoors, keeps me busy and happy in winter .this year I have caladiums and a big beautiful colius grown from a cutting from my friend’s plant. I do not have a big window garden like yous . By the way it looks lovely andthe plants seem happy, what is that little blue plant on the bottom shelf? I have always wanted blue in my garden, but the blue perrienials are too short lived. Iwant some plant that will bloom all summer long. I guess that’s it. Thanks for your blog, I do enjoy reading it. Please also later on post something about roses. This year was not so good for my roses. Thanks and bye.
    Perveez, Veez for short.

  52. Hi Veez – Blue plant on the left side of the broad sill is hydrangea. Tricky to grow indoors, since it demands water every time you turn around! Good luck with your geraniums!

  53. Hi friends, how is all, and what you want to say on the topic of this post, in my view its actually remarkable in favor of

  54. Hi Kevin so happy to see that you answered my question. Thanks for naming the blue plant. Iwould not have thought it, as it is so blue , almost indigo blue. I must tell you some time about my never blooming ‘endless summer’ hydrangea.bye now.

  55. First of all I want to say wonderful blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing.
    I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.

    I truly do take pleasure in writing however it
    just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions
    or hints? Kudos!

  56. kevin,
    A friend gave me a hanging geranium at the beginning of Fall 2013 to try to see if I could try overwintering it in my sunroom. I was successful much to my delight and surprise. It had blooms all winter and in late March, it was nice enough to move it to the outdooors. I hung it up on a shepherd’s hook at the back of the house where it gets morning and early afternoon Sun and is somewhat shaded at certain times of the day by a dogwood tree. I hung my spider plant on a limb of the dogwood and it did exceptionally well too and has lots of new babies. I took some cuttings off the geranium last evening, got some fresh potting mix and this afternoon, plan to plant them. Seeing your tuitorial, I will be cutting back the Mother plant like you showed. I assume that will continue to develop foliage and flowers during the winter months. Why do you suggest a clay pot, why not plastic? What is the smallest size clay pot that I can start the cutttings in? I do have a few of them but they are small, like maybe a 1 c. size. or maybe 1/2 c. Can I mix some osmocte in the potting mix when I plant the cuttings instead of going out and buying the product you suggested? I don’t have storage space for any more gardening supply products. Now do you have a tuitorial on how to raise Christmas or Holiday cactus? I am about to give up on mine. I think one of them has bloomed in last 2 years. What am I doing wrong? I would love to try growing african violets; at least I’d have some color in the sunroom besides the bright turquoise walls!

  57. Hi Betty819 – You can start the cuttings in plastic or clay. I prefer 4-inch (10.16 c) clay pots. If your potting mix already contains plant food, you needn’t add osmocote or anything else until the geraniums are of flowering size. If you cut back the mother plant, just cut enough roots/foliage in order to return the plant to the same hanging basket, and fill in with fresh potting mix.

    You’ll find my Holiday cactus tutorial in this post: November Brilliance: The “Thanksgiving Cactus”.

  58. Thanks for your prompt reply. I have lots of 4 in. plastic pots, but I will wash/soak in bleach before using. I’ve been watching some YouTube videos on this same subject and they almost use the same or close to how you take your cuttings. Do you think the clay pots hold the moisture better than plastic? My clay pots I have are way too tiny. I’ll see if Home Depot has any 4 in. clays/with saucers but don’t recall seeing any there yesterday but since I was mainly looking for the small bags of potting mix, I really didn’t pay much attention to pots. Will also check garden shop of Lowe’s and maybe Big Lots. Gosh, they are already putting Christmas stuff out in the Home Depot. Nothing like rushing the season!

  59. Hi Kevin,

    When you are cutting down the geraniums, do you cut down just as far as there are leaves? Mine are quite leggy because I wintered them inside last year without doing any trimming. I am looking at them to cut them back, and the lowest leaves are still quite high up. Should I cut lower and just leave stems if they look like they have nodes low down, or do they need leaves in place for growth? And, if I leave them long, should I pinch them back to get them a little more full again?


  60. I am having some success with the geraniums I cut back. However, a question about the leaves. I planted a leaf per your instructions. The leaf is not in good shape, but when I gently pull on it, it seems to be stuck well in the soil, as if it has roots. I haven’t seen any new growth yet though. It’s in a window that my violets love, but as it’s winter, it doesn’t get a super amount of sunshine. Do you think it will grow once it warms up and the sun is out more? Thanks, and Happy Holidays!

  61. Kevin,
    I have 3 large geranium in my Cold garage for the winter (central Al). Is it too late to cut back the roots and reset the plant as you suggest? It is almost January but we have a projected colder and longer winter here. I had cut back the plant but not as drastic as you suggest and I did not trim the roots back at all. They seemed to have already gone into a dormant state but recently started putting out new growth. Very leggy too. Was wondering if I could still do what this article suggests or will I be stuck with the Giants till next year.

  62. for me i don’t think all thats necessary to do. unless im getting cuttings from it.. i know this one guy that has had a geranium for 7 years with out cutting on it and it still looks the same but now is like a small bush or shrub and is just growing well in the spring and inside in the winter months..

    anyhow i need to pollinate mine so i’ll get seeds from the flowers i’d like to start a new plant from seeds not just cuttings. also i noticed that these flower plants don’t like alot of wind like from a fan plus they do like alot of light they don’t like water misting on the leaves but do in the soil around the stems mine have red flowers.

  63. i have to let mine grow out more so that i can share slips of it to friends and family
    because i think they would like to have a geranium flowering plant. i found the one i have on a sidewalk just was a 4inch broken limb i thought it was some kind of succulent ground cover plant and took it, then found out its a geranium.

  64. After an mishap rendezvous with our pot belly pig, i have only one surviving geranium instead of a dozen…i am going to use your method & make startlings out of the cuttings.
    Is there any chance the trimmed off root mass would grow if it was planted with new potting soil above and below it? Or could it be divided and planted in several pots, or must one have the green leafy cutting to absorb sunshine?
    I always wondered!
    Thank you,

  65. They winter over just fine here, but it might be fun to use this method for a little happiness in the window through the winter months… Thanks.

  66. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    For potted cuttings of many types, I rely on vented plastic bags, positioned as humidity domes. My failure rate has been reduced enough to convince me they are valuable.
    I use a clear bag so I can see the progress. To keep the foliage off the plastic itself, I support the bag with home made bamboo “skewers” which are the slim side branches of my harvested black bamboo canes. Chopsticks would also work, or slim branches from trees. I cut several holes in the bag to prevent stagnant air. The dome of plastic keeps extra moisture close to the foliage, without misting (which I perpetually forget to do). The dome draws my attention to the new plant, keeping it on the “front burner” and properly attended to amidst the piles of potted specimens that surround me. Plastic bag humidity domes are not used outside, just indoors under the grow lights. (Geranium, Coleus, Passiflora, Sweet Potato Vine, Pineapple Sage, Lemon Verbena, Hypoestes, Roses, Pittosporum, Persian Shield, Angel Wing Begonia)

    Your winter window is an eye-popper and must give you great pleasure in the cold months. Thanks for posting this timely tutorial.

  67. Beautiful

  68. Kevin- my geranium (1st 1 ever) is covered with beautiful flowers. I’m in western Mass. Is this really when I should chop it up?

  69. Thanks Kevin! I have attempted to root geraniums and always fail. Now I know to let them ‘callus’ first. There’s nothing so cheerful as blooming geraniums on a winter windowsill!

  70. Unitedxstew says:

    Enjoyed this and I’m going to give it a try. Everyone, wish me luck!

  71. A WONDERFUL source of scented geraniums is Well-Sweep Herb Farm in Port Murray, New Jersey. They have more varieties than you ever knew existed — and of herbs as well, of course. I have ordered from them several times (most recently five years ago) and their plants have always been well grown, properly labelled, nicely packed, and promptly shipped. Their website — — has a notice saying that unfortunately they cannot ship plants to AZ, CA, OR and WA, which is unfortunate indeed for folks who live in those states.

    You have to download their print catalog because there’s not a searchable online catalog, and while the catalog is not colorful with lots of pictures — it is essentially a list of botanical names with descriptions in table format — it is still a pleasure to browse through and is the best source of herbs (and scented geraniums) I know of. Scroll down through the catalog to Pelargoniums – Scented Geraniums, and prepare to be AMAZED.

  72. Kevin, do you think that this technique would work for ivy geraniums? Love this post. Have told many about it.

  73. When I had the big house with great windows I used to do this… Now I don’t have enough good windows for many indoor plants and I miss them :(

  74. Hi Kevin,

    I have a favorite, but tired-looking geranium that will likely benefit from
    a top-cut and a root-cut. I don’t think I would have been this ventuorous on
    my own. However, if you say this works, I’m going for it!
    Good tutorial – thanks much!
    So, are you considering ideas for getting going on a gardening book? Hope so!

  75. Cool post! I love humming bird moth’s. I don’t however love their larvae, the tomato horn worm! Course the chickens don’t mind playing “rugby” with them.

  76. ingmarie peck says:

    Beautiful, thank you.

  77. Hi Kevin. I just wanted to tell you I found this germanium bush at this place we always go to eat. I asked if I could get a,small slip of it and mind yo the plant is huge. The firm said yes in could take a piece. I took a small stem yesterday and to did the way to said to do inlet it dry out over night. I just a,few minutes ago planted it in a 4″ pot. And watered it till.the water ran out the bottom.the color of this germanium is a,peach orange a beautiful color. Thank you so much for your telling how to start a,piece of it. I love the stuff you send out. And truly don’t know how you have the time to read all the notes people,send you? Thank you again,
    Love, Pam couch

  78. Judy Pennington says:

    Kevin! You have a blooming Hydrangea IN your house? I couldn’t even get mine to thrive in my garden. It finally died. :(

  79. Susan Golden says:

    I tell you Kevin, you are always right on target! Yesterday we saw a strange bug on our roses and my husband thought it was a strange variety of Hummingbird. The children thought it was a bee. I had no idea! Well, I was going through this article on propagating Geraniums and low and behold, there it was!!! A Hummingbird Moth! You are simply an unending source of knowledge!!! Thank you! :-)

  80. Kevin,

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! I have never successfully brought my geraniums indoors for the winter. I’m going to re-pot those suckers today!

  81. SueSchneid22 says:

    Kevin- I have been wanting to do this for 2 years! Today, I am going to do it. I have three huge geraniums, nurtured through 3-4 winters, that need to be tamed and revitalized. Thank you SO much for the detailed directions. I love your whole blog. So many times, I think to myself that yours is the most useful blog I read. I love your humor and your penchant for knowing what to write about, how to share your knowledge in a fun way. If I sound sappy, I’ll attribute that to a rainy afternoon and some good chardonnay. So far, I have made the broth for Scotch Broth, 2 pumpkin pies from a volunteer blue hubbard squash and 4 loaves of pumpkin nut bread. After we eat squash or pumpkin, I throw the seeds all over our yard, ala Johnny Appleseed. What a blessing it is to find a new seedling! Cheers! And thank you!

  82. Kevin, I have been growing geraniums for years now here in SE Colorado out on the plains. In fact I had the screened-in porch on my 113-year old home converted to a sunroom with extra-wide sills to house my geraniums, along with a 7′ tall umbrella plant, 5′ tall corn plant, blooming impatiens and begonias and assorted smaller green plants.. My windows have a south and west exposure partially shaded with huge old elms. I usually slip them in jelly jars full of water, using marker over scotch tape on the sides for labels. Three days ago, I finally hauled in my 45+ geraniums from outside where they were vacationing, still in their pots. I have been looking all over the internet and stumbled across your blog. Finally, I found someone who knows what to do with my spindly, leggy, woody plants that I can never bear to throw on the compost pile! I was so happy to read your clear, precise instructions with those fantastic pictures, I broke into my happy dance! Yea! (I’m nearly 70, but I can still dance.. when no one’s looking!) You inspired me to tackle the huge task of repotting my geraniums and slipping them. I still shy away from putting my slips in soil. I never have good luck with that. I take 3-4″ cuttings (sometimes more on leggy ones), stick them in their assigned glass to harden over for a day or two and then fill them with ordinary tap water. I place them next to the mother geranium and wait. If they root, fine, if not, okay, too. I try to buy new geraniums each summer if I see an unusual one to replenish my stock, but I have my old favorites. Now, they can be reborn again! Thank you, thank you! I have put you on my desktop, so I can read more of you. I read you’re an excellent blogger. I can’t thank you enough, Kevin!

  83. I am now in my second day of pruning and re-potting all my 4 doz.+ geraniums per your instructions. I have cut some of my leggy, woody ones almost to the soil, so some have only 4 or 5 brown stubs (with green showing on the cuts). I am now fearless in scooping the geranium out of its pot, scraping 2/3 of the old soil and piling it next to my roses, ready to use to cover them after the first hard freeze. I am tossing old stems, leaves and roots to my compost pile. I have trimmed the roots, like you said. I’m repotting them in Miracle-Gro moisture-control potting soil, as I sometimes don’t get around to watering them until 2 weeks have passed. I try to water all my plants every Sunday. I’m wondering if this soil will keep them too moist. I like the fact that it has fertilizer it it and is supposed to keep them fertilized for up to 6 months. It’ll make watering all of my houseplants much easier. I have to use 20 gallon milk jugs full of water and I used to use 1/4 tsp. Miracle-Gro Bloom Booster flower food every week or so. I also add 1/4 tsp. Super Thrive. What do you use to fertilize your geraniums, Kevin? I’ll try to keep posting progress of butchered geraniums. Ha!

  84. HI Ruth – Sounds like you’re becoming a geranium-rejuvenating pro! To answer your question, I feed my plants with Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster (as described in the article above). Have fun with your project!

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