Have you taken your Scented Geraniums inside for the winter months yet?

(October 12, 2011)
We really do recommend that Scenteds are lifted from the garden borders etc., at this time of the year - end of September and no later than mid-October . 

Ideally, they should be overwintered in a dry and preferably frost free place.  For example, a greenhouse with the option of heating, a well constructed shed, a garage, a polytunnel.

By Mid-October there is very little time left now to take your precious SLP's inside - it really does need to be done as a matter of urgency.  If there's a bad frost during October you may well lose all of your plants!!
Autumn is now fully underway and the temperature difference between daylight hours and early evening through to morning is vast.  Scented Leaf Pelargoniums are frost tender and this is why they need to be brought inside at this time of the year.  The recommended months for enjoying them outside is late May through to late September (UK).  Yes, severe frosts have been known to happen at any time between October and right through into May in the UK. 

So......it takes a bit of effort to dig them up, tidy them and pot them but surely it's worth it?  I'm sure that the many people who lost their precious plants last winter, yes there were quite a few, will definitely not be leaving their Scented Geraniums outside this winter!!
Here's an email we received from Richard and his wife:
'Hello, although you have covered almost all eventualities on your website there is still one thing I would like to ask. We are only going to bring 2 of our 12 plants indoors (lack of space is preventing us bringing in the remainder) and the rest are in terracotta pots. We planned to move these into the garage (no car in there) with light from the glazed door and to keep the pots moist only. Is this the correct thing to do? Or should we let them dry out all together and revive them in May? We are such novices at this! Many thanks.'
Our Reply:

Hi to you both

Everyone is a Novice at some point and even when you gain the experience disasters do occur from time to time.  Trust me!!

Here are a few tips:

  • Get the pots into the garage without any further delay.  Ideally they should be lifted inside by late September – mid-October at the latest.
  • Go over the plants and remove all plant debris, especially in the middle.
  • I would give them a good ‘haircut’.  Use clean sharp scissors and give a good trim back to just above one of the lower leaf points.  Don’t worry you won’t kill them but instead it will encourage bushier growth for next year.
  • The plants should be fine in the garage but I would buy a roll of gardening fleece just in case there are severe frosts over the next few months.  
  • Heating, if temperatures are due to drop really low during the night a household convector heater should prevent the plants freezing.  2010 winter UK, there were night temperatures as low as -18C!!
  • I have known really bad frosts even at the end of May!  It’s the air frost that will do the damage rather than a ground frost.  If you hear that there will be a frost cover the plants with the fleece and then remove the next morning.  If you don't have fleece to hand cover with layers of newspaper but ensure that you remove each morning.
  • Watering – you are quite correct that it is necessary to just keep the compost moist – don’t over water at all.  Reduce feed over the winter months.
  • If the garage is dark that is fine as the plants will go in to a dormant state until about early February. 
  • Early to late February, you should start to see new leaf growth.  At this point the plants will need light also.  Either open the garage door during the day and set the pots near to it or sit them outside on a good day.  Close the door with the pots inside from early evening.
  • It is important to provide the light from February onwards and this would also be the time that you began to increase watering and introduce a reduced feed.

Hopefully that should help and if you are still worried please email me again as often as you need to.

Good Luck from Annie & Guy!
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