True geraniums – also known as Cranesbills – are perennials. And like all perennials, they die back just before the first frost of fall and enter a dormancy period that usually lasts until the final thaw of spring.
Geraniums are hardy plants. But they will always do better if you can help them along. Here are three simple tips to ensure that your geranium roots and bulbs stay healthy this winter.
Cut and clean
As soon as the geranium foliage turns brown, cut it down to the soil line with either a lawnmower or a sharp pair of scissors. The brown color indicates that the plant is now concentrating all its energy on keeping the roots and bulb alive during the cold days of winter.
Mulch and protect
Put down a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch over cut geraniums. This will help insulate the roots and bulb when the temperatures dip into the freezing zone and also impede weed growth in the spring. Use pre-made mulch mix, dead leaves, pine needles or straw.
Soak and let sit
Watering geranium roots and bulbs is usually not necessary during the winter. But soaking your plants after mulching is a good idea. During dry winters, soak your geraniums periodically to help keep the bulbs from drying out.
As soon as spring returns and you see your plants begin to grow back, feed them 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer. The extra nutrients will give them the energy they need to thrive during geranium blooming season, which typically begins in May.
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