By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
Do you hate to see the frost nipping at those beautiful annuals that have provided so much pleasure and beauty through the summer and fall? Perhaps, they’re planted in large containers, too big to move indoors or in the ground. Even if you can move them, annuals often don’t last indoors during winter. While you may not be able to save the entire plant, consider keeping cuttings over winter.
Cuttings from many annual plants will keep over winter, sprout roots, and be ready for planting in spring. You may place them in pots or cups without drainage filled with moist perlite or vermiculite. Locate them at first in bright light, away from the sun. Move later to an area where they receive morning sun.
Alternatively, you may allow the cuttings to callous by letting them lay for a couple of hours to a few days, depending on the type of plant. Another trick is to cover the bottoms with a rooting hormone that will encourage root growth. Then plant in well-draining soil.
Take a young, 2- to 6-inch (5-15 cm.) cutting below a node or under a set of leaves. Make sure it is vigorous. Remove leaves about halfway up the stem, starting from the bottom. Allow to callous, particularly if it’s a succulent plant or apply rooting hormone (or even cinnamon) before planting in soil. (Note: some cuttings can be rooted in water first.)
Some sources suggest covering the cuttings with a plastic tent, but that is not always needed. It will help retain moisture but can cause your cuttings to burn if the sun reaches them. Either way, your cuttings will likely root.
Take cuttings of your favorites now while there is time left to get roots started. You may plant several cuttings to each container. Then, grow your cuttings indoors as houseplants through the cold winter months. You can plant them again outside when soil and outdoor temperatures rise enough to accommodate each individual plant.
Plants like herbs, coleus, impatiens, fuchsias, and geraniums are good choices when growing cuttings in winter. Many others grow equally well. Choose annual plants that won’t return on their own for the most cost-effective plantings. Many of these plants grow over winter to the point where you have a good size planting for next year.
Identify and label each group of cuttings, which will be especially helpful when you search it online to learn the appropriate planting time next spring. True annuals will need warm soil and nighttime temperatures that no longer drop much below 55 degrees F. (13 C.). Cold hardy and half-hardy annuals can take lower nighttime temperatures.
Overwintering plant cuttings is a fun hobby for the enthusiastic gardener. The more you can grow through winter, the more free plants you’ll have to plant next spring.
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The onset of fall doesn't have to mean the end of all the beautiful annual plants you've come to love in your outdoor garden. With a bit of effort, you can enjoy the plants on your windowsills all winter long.
The plants that adapt best to life indoors are the tender perennials grown in cold climates as annuals because they won't survive the harsh winters. These include popular garden plants such as geraniums, coleus, wax begonias, heliotrope, and impatiens. An added benefit to overwintering these plants indoors is that not only do you get to enjoy their beauty longer, but you can also avoid having to buy them again year after year. This is a great way to keep plants that are special to you or that have nice color or fragrance.
Help! I know there are a few different methods on saving some of those wonderful geraniums out there. How do you save yours over winter to be planted again in the spring..
How to Overwinter Geraniums
This article was published originally on 9/17/1999
by Richard Jauron, Department of Horticulture
Geraniums are popular bedding plants, blooming from May through frost. However, the first hard frost doesn't have to be the end of your geraniums. They can be overwintered indoors by potting up individual plants, taking cuttings, or storing bare- root plants in a cool, dry place. Regardless of the method, the plants should be removed from the garden prior to the first frost.
Carefully dig up each plant and place in a 6- to 8-inch pot. Prune the geraniums back to 1/2 to 1/3 of their original height. Water each plant thoroughly, then place the geraniums in a bright, sunny window or under artificial lighting. Geraniums prefer cool indoor temperatures. Daytime temperatures near 65Г…ВЎF and night temperatures around 55Г…ВЎF are ideal. (Geraniums become tall and spindly when grown in warm, poorly lit areas.) During their stay indoors, water the plants thoroughly when the soil becomes dry. Occasionally pinch the geraniums to produce stocky, well- branched plants.
Using a sharp knife, take 3- to 4-inch stem cuttings from the terminal ends of the shoots. Pinch off the lower leaves, then dip the base of each cutting in a rooting hormone. Stick the cuttings in a rooting medium of coarse sand or a mixture of coarse sand and sphagnum peat moss. Clay or plastic pots with drainage holes in the bottom are suitable rooting containers. Insert the cuttings into the medium just far enough to be self-supporting. After all the cuttings are inserted, water the cuttings and medium thoroughly. After the medium is allowed to drain, place a clear plastic bag over the cuttings and container to prevent wilting of the cuttings. Then place the cuttings in bright light, but not direct sunlight. The cuttings should root in 6 to 8 weeks. When the cuttings have good root systems, remove them from the rooting medium and plant each rooted cutting in its own pot.
Bare Root Plants
Dig the geraniums and carefully shake all the soil from their roots. Then hang the plants upside down in a cool (45-50Г…ВЎF), dry place. An alternate method is to place 1 or 2 plants in a large paper sack. Once a month during winter, soak the roots of each plant in water for 1 to 2 hours. Most of the leaves will eventually fall off. (The paper sack method is much cleaner than the hanging method.) In March, prune or cut back each plant. Remove all shriveled, dead material. Healthy, live stems will be firm and solid. After pruning, pot up the plants and water thoroughly. Place the potted geraniums in a sunny window or under artificial lighting. Geraniums that are pruned and potted in March should produce green, attractive plants that can be planted outdoors in May.
Most annuals, such marigolds and petunias, are relatively inexpensive compared to geraniums. Gardeners who plant large numbers of geraniums can reduce their gardening expenses by overwintering their geraniums indoors.
This article originally appeared in the September 17, 1999 issue, p. 121.
Year of Publication:
IC-481(23) -- September 17, 1999
by Richard Jauron, Department of Horticulture
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Dec 04, 2010 #14 2010-12-04T13:53I've got some plugs that grew from where seed fell. Sal if they survive you are welcome to have some. They are likely to be white
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Dec 07, 2010 #18 2010-12-07T09:50Herbaceous Perennial
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