Geraniums (Pelargoniums) are usually grown as annuals and even sold as annuals, however, in Zones 10-11 geraniums are considered and are grown as tender perennials.
For those new to this, annual plants live for only one season, after which they die. Perennials on the other hand, enter a dormancy period during late fall and winter, and come back again in spring.
If you’re curious about the behavior of scented geraniums in different parts of the world during winter and what to do with geraniums plants in winter, this article will cover these issues.
Minimum Temperature for Geraniums
As tender perennials in zones 10-11, scented geraniums can tolerate temperatures down to 45 °F. They grow best, however, in temperatures between 55 F – 65 °F. This makes them a great candidate for indoor growing as well.
The lowest temperature that a geranium can be exposed to without sustaining serious damage is around 19 degrees F. The plant will sustain some frost damage, but it will likely survive if it’s taken inside right away.
You shouldn’t wait for temperatures to dip to this level before making overwintering arrangements for your scented geranium. You should start overwintering preparations as soon as temperatures dip below 55 F.
What to Do with Geranium Plants in Winter?
As for overwintering scented geraniums, you have a few options available:
- Move them inside
- Place potted geraniums in cold storage
- Place bareroot scented geraniums in cold storage
- Take cuttings
Here’s what to watch out for in each case:
– Moving scented geraniums indoors
Whether you’re moving potted scented geraniums indoors or you’re digging them out of the ground, make sure you clean off any dead, diseased or damaged parts and inspect the plant for pests.
You may even need to apply a preventative pest treatment so that you don’t accidentally introduce pests to your other houseplants.
Water moderately during winter, keep in a sunny spot and hold off the fertilizer until early spring.
Scented geraniums that were exclusively grown outdoors, may have a bit of trouble adapting to indoor conditions.
But with a bit of dedication and being mindful of their requirements (sunny spot, correct watering, etc.), you can help them survive the winter and even bloom indoors.
– Placing in cold storage (bare-root or in pot)
Find unheated but frost-free storage (shed, garage, etc) to store potted or bare-root scented geraniums over winter.
Cut back the plant by ⅓ or ½, check for diseases and water deeply, then place in cold storage, watering it infrequently during winter.
If you choose the bare-root option, soak the plant in water each month during winter to prevent it from completely drying out.
– Taking cuttings
Another way to overwinter scented geraniums is to take healthy cuttings in autumn and root them during winter in a warm, sunny spot, so when spring comes, you can plant the cuttings outside.
Are There Any Perennial Geraniums?
While scented geraniums (pelargoniums) are annuals, in some areas they can be grown as perennials. That doesn’t make them perennials by definition, however.
True perennial geraniums (Geranium sp.) or hardy geraniums are cold-hardy plants that die back during winter, but come back again in spring, without you having to replant them.
As you’ve seen, this isn’t the case with scented geraniums that do need overwintering arrangements to survive.
There is confusion between scented geraniums (pelargoniums) and hardy geraniums (Geranium sp), and although both plants are part of the Geraniaceae family, they are distinct plants with distinct requirements.
Are Geraniums Annuals or Perennials in the UK?
Scented geraniums are annuals in the UK, they simply don’t take well to the English winter, and need to be taken inside to survive.
The average low in the UK in winter is 41°F (5°C), which as you may already know, is just below the minimum temperature that scented geraniums can tolerate without excessive damage or an early demise.
Therefore, taking pelargoniums indoors or using one of the overwintering methods I mentioned above will help you keep these plants alive despite the winter cold raging outside.
If your scented geraniums are planted in flower beds, you should dig them out, repot them and take them inside. This will save you the costs of having to buy new ones.
If you don’t want to repot them, you can simply use the bare-root overwintering method. Dig up your scented geraniums before the first frost and shake off the soil from the roots.
Either wrap them in a newspaper and place them on a shelf or tie them and suspend them. Make sure they’re disease-free and that you soak the roots in water monthly so that they don’t completely dry out during winter.
When spring comes, you can plant them again or take potted ones outside and put them back on their normal care regimen.
Are Geraniums Annuals or Perennials in Australia?
In Australia, scented geraniums are usually grown as perennials. However, some areas can get frosty even in Australia. In these areas, pelargoniums would likely die during winter if they’re left outside.
But in areas where the temperatures don’t dip below 45 °F during winter, pelargoniums can survive and grow as perennials.
Because the seasons in Australia are opposite to those in the Northern hemisphere, the fall season in Australia will be from March to May, followed by winter in June to August.
Australian gardeners, therefore, prepare scented geraniums for winter by cutting back ½ or ⅓ of their size in March or April so that they’ll ‘come back’ even bushier in the Australian spring, which is in September to November.
Therefore, even though scented geraniums are annuals, in some areas in the US and the world, they can be grown as perennials.
But even where scented geraniums cannot be grown as perennials, there are a couple of effective ways to overwinter them and enjoy them again in spring.
Scented geraniums can be overwintered through various methods. Pick the method that you’re most likely to follow.
In spring, wait for the last frost to pass, and move your scented geraniums outdoors by slowly acclimating them to their new environment.