Today, before the Seattle area has a frost, I pulled out all of my geraniums and packed them away for the winter. It’s easy. I use a weeding tool with prongs to pull each plant out of the ground, keeping the root systems as intact as possible. I shake off as much soil as possible.
Then I put 2 to 3 plants, or as many as will fit, roots first into a paper grocery bag. The tops will be sticking out of the sack. I label the bags with blossom and leaf color because, in the spring, I may not be able to tell which is which. The bags are stored in a cool, dry, dark place, which happens to be our basement.
Here is the critical part. Each month, all winter, I take the plants out of their bags, one group at a time, and soak the roots in a bucket of water for about 5 minutes, then stuff them back into their bags. In early April, I cut the tops back to about 4″ tall, clean them up and plant them into 1-gallon containers, using store bought potting soil. I set them near a window that gets afternoon sun and water as I would a house plant. By the time I’m ready to plant them outdoors in May or early June, they are all leafed out and close to blooming. (They probably could be planted outside here in Seattle in early April, but I have pansies in full bloom where the geraniums will go.) I have been using the same 20 geraniums for 4 years, and feel pretty smug about the dollars I’ve saved not having to buy new plants every year. I do have to put a sticky note reminder on my calendar to soak the roots monthly, or it just wouldn’t happen.