Pelargonium wintering rules on the windowsill and basement
Pelargonium often spends the summer outdoors, decorating terraces or balconies. Fresh air is good for flowers, and in summer it blooms unusually plentifully, growing lush branchy bushes. But here the heat comes to an end, and you have to clean the plants for the winter in a warm room. Many flower growers notice that pelargoniums are usually not happy with such a move and begin to actively turn yellow, dropping foliage. Such a feature of room geraniums is a lot of trouble, because from the fallen leaves on the windowsill there is a lot of garbage, and the suffering flower itself does not look so attractive anymore. But is it possible to minimize stress when returning pelargonium to the apartment and provide the flower with an ideal wintering? Let's try to understand this article.
Pelargonium most flower growers are stubbornly called geraniums, although pelargonium and geranium are different plants. But since for the majority the name "geranium" is more familiar, in the article we will use it on a par with "pelargonium".
When to bring pelargonium into the room?
To begin with, we recall that indoor geranium is divided into several independent species: zonal pelargonium, ivy (ampelous), angel pelargonium, royal and fragrant.
The simplest case is with the wintering of fragrant pelargonium and traditional zonal pelargonium (“fist”). With constant cultivation in an apartment, the old "grandmother" varieties require a minimum amount of attention, but with a sharp change in conditions, even they can react negatively, not to mention modern hybrids.
As you know, the older the plant, the more difficult it is to tolerate changes in environmental conditions, so many gardeners prefer not to mess with overexposure of mother plants, but decide to renew flowers from cuttings every year so that small young plants leave for the winter.
For this, it is necessary to cut the cuttings from the pelargonium, not waiting for autumn - in the middle-end of August, and initially grow young trees as indoor flowers. Then the onset of winter will not cause geraniums much stress.
But not every flower lover raises a hand to throw a chic voluminous bush. In addition, it was noticed that in the second year the plants give especially magnificent bloom. Moreover, in modern dwarf and mini-varieties, the bushes develop very slowly and for them a similar method is unacceptable.
Short-term pelargonium can tolerate a small temperature minus. But if you are configured to move geraniums for the winter to your apartment, then it is better not to bring to significant colds. The later the plants enter the room, the longer the adaptation period to changing conditions will last.
For the most painless adaptation, it is better to plan a move (on average) at the end of August and beginning of September. It is possible to determine that plants are no longer comfortable with outdoor temperature by such signs as significant redness or yellowing of foliage and peduncles.
Read more about the types and varieties of pelargonium in the material Pelargonium - the most hardy of the flowering.
How to help pelargonium adapt on the windowsill?
When placing geraniums on the windowsill, make sure that the leaves are turned towards the light on the same side with which they were lit as much as possible on the street. To remove spores of fungi and pest eggs that can remain on the flower, it is recommended to thoroughly wash the trunks and leaves with the help of "Green Soap".
It is also possible to help plants transfer adaptation using treatment with anti-stress drugs (Epin, Zircon, Stimulus HB-101, succinic acid).
Even if the pots in which they lived on the street became too small, it is better to postpone the transplant until the end of winter so as not to create additional stress factors.
Is pruning of pelargonium necessary?
The need for autumn pruning of geraniums before wintering is a debatable issue. As a result of pruning, any plant inevitably loses its strength, but if the overgrown bushes literally do not fit on the windowsill or shelf, then the grower has no choice.
It is a well-known fact that pruning shoots stimulates the awakening of sleeping buds, so if there is a need to cut geraniums, it is best to do this a couple of weeks before her planned move. In this case, in the presence of warm and sunny weather, pelargonium will increase healthy, plentiful shoots. But if you transfer this procedure to autumn, then in a room with a lack of light, young growth will be elongated and weak. This rule does not apply to the removal of peduncles, which must be cut off so that the plant does not waste energy on flowering.
In the case when you send geraniums grown on a flowerbed for the winter, you need to do this without waiting for the night temperatures to drop to + 12 ... + 15 degrees. This is due to the fact that in autumn it often rains regularly, and the stay of plants in wet soil can lead to decay of the roots. The root system of pelargonium is small, and even in powerful bushes growing in open ground, it does not grow too much.
A pot for wintering such pelargoniums is better to choose no more than 15 centimeters in diameter. After transplanting, the flowers will take time - from two weeks to a month, to get used to the pots, and new conditions, and to prepare for the rest period. During this period, it is better not to disturb the plants with pruning and top dressing, keep in the shade outdoors. For some time, the leaves will inevitably turn yellow and fall, and as soon as the sleeping buds begin to wake up, you can bring them into the house on the south window.
Note: even in the best situation, when changing living conditions, part of the leaves of geranium will turn yellow and fall. It’s better not to interfere with this natural process “in the name of beauty”, and not to remove the leaf starting to turn yellow, but to wait until the leaf blade has completely dried out.
The basic rules of wintering pelargonium
In order for the pelargonium to overwinter safely, it is necessary to help them determine the line of behavior for the coming months. Pelargonium is zonal do not apply to flowers that require winter sleep, but these plants behave differently, depending on external conditions. Therefore, wintering can become a period of complete rest for pelargoniums or a time when they will gradually continue the growing season.
A signal to one or another strategy of behavior for plants is the average temperature level and the degree of illumination. But in the conditions of a city apartment in winter, both factors, as a rule, are in imbalance, because in nature, with the onset of cold weather, daylight hours and vice versa usually decrease. But on the windowsills during this period it is usually excessively warm, but there is not enough sunlight for full growth.
Therefore, in order for pelargonium to rest a little in the winter, the room temperature should be maintained at + 10 ... + 15 degrees. At the same time, when ventilating, make sure that the plants are away from cold drafts.
And if you provide flowers with a backlight lasting 12 hours a day, the temperature can be higher than 20 degrees. Indoor geranium does not apply to plants of short or long day, so under such conditions it can even please bloom. The bushes grow moderately and do not stretch. For further propagation, the first cuttings can be removed in early January. As a rule, the cuttings are best at this time.
Features wintering pelargonium "Angel"
If most varieties of zonal pelargonium can at least survive the winter on the windowsill without creating special conditions, then this is hardly possible for Angel pelargonium. For this species, proper wintering not only provides the laying of buds for subsequent flowering of bushes, but is also a guarantee of the survival of plants in this difficult period.
It is very important not to be late with the beginning of the rest period of the "Angels", because the later it starts, the further the flowering period will move. On average, winter sleep of these flowers should last from October to February. At this time, the temperature regime is maintained in the range of not lower than +9 and not higher than +15 degrees. It is also advisable to use a backlight based on a 14-hour daylight hours.
But, as practice shows, low temperature prevents stretching, and subject to the temperature regime on bright windows, plants have enough natural light.
The subtleties of wintering the royal pelargonium
For royal pelargoniums, the winter temperature should be even lower - from +8 to +10 degrees. At such a reduced temperature, watering should be extremely careful - rare and very moderate (depending on the size of the pot, it is 50-100 ml, once every 3 weeks). Otherwise, wintering flowers may be affected by fungal diseases.
The insidiousness of such a defeat lies in the fact that the symptoms of the disease do not appear immediately. And when the symptoms become visible, the disease is already in its heyday and can even lead to the death of plants. Therefore, it is very important to inspect the leaves and stems for plaque or discoloration.
It is also recommended to carry out preventive treatment with antifungal drugs before placing royal geraniums for the winter. You need to do this a few days before they move, so that the treated plants have time to dry well and not be exposed to draft and exposure to cool temperatures.
Before sending to rest, it is also useful to pinch the bush a little, but radical pruning can be fatal. The first top dressing is carried out in late February and early March, by which time the bushes build up lateral shoots, which soon begin to bloom. The optimal daylight hours for royal geraniums should be 14 hours, so for these colors it is advisable to organize a backlight.
Peculiarities of wintery pelargonium
Unlike pelargonium, zonal softellar geraniums, most often, are cut off before their arrangement for a winter apartment. According to experienced gardeners, for standard varieties after trimming, the length of the lashes should be 10-15 cm, and in dwarf ones - a little less - 5-10 cm. All dry and diseased parts of the plant are removed at the same time.
From November to February, it is advisable for the flowers to provide a temperature of no higher than 18 degrees and a very rare watering. Some varieties winter well on the southern windowsills in the conditions of ordinary city apartments at a higher temperature, but during this time they weaken and stretch greatly.
Watering and feeding pelargonium in winter
Of course, pelargonium is far from cacti, but, thanks to the ability to accumulate moisture in a thickened stem, this flower is semi-succulent. It follows that pelargonium is much worse to overfill, and strong humidity at a low temperature is especially critical.
When you see that geranium has prepared for rest (it has stopped blooming, old leaves have started to turn yellow more often, and young foliage practically does not develop), watering must be reduced. When watering, you do not need to moisten the soil much (not more than 100 ml per medium pot). Such maintenance irrigation is carried out approximately once every two weeks. Young bushes are watered a little more often.
Watered along the edge of the tank, away from the root neck. It is better to water the pelargonium in the morning, no later than 11 hours.
If your flowers hibernate with illumination at high temperatures, then watering is carried out in the usual mode - abundantly, but only after the soil surface dries by 2–2.5 centimeters. Water the next time only when the substrate dries out almost completely.
Since pelargonium has slightly pubescent foliage, foliar top dressing for this plant is not recommended at any time of the year. And you can feed bushes in the winter only if they get enough light and bloom profusely.
In the rest mode, top dressing completely stops and resumes only from the end of January, when the active vegetation begins. For this, it is better to use ready-made complex fertilizer for flowering plants.
Possible problems with wintering pelargonium indoors
Even after successful completion of adaptation to the conditions of the apartment, the geraniums may exhibit yellowing and drying of the leaves. There can be many reasons for this. In particular, leaf fall provokes a lack of light, dry air or excessive or insufficient watering.
In winter, pelargoniums are usually weakened and can easily be attacked by pests. Most of all indoor geraniums are annoyed by whiteflies, spider mites and mealybugs. Of the most common diseases of pelargonium, fungal diseases should be noted. Most often, pelargonium is affected by a black leg. The disease can be easily identified by the characteristic decay of the stem near the root neck.
If this happens, then treatment usually does not give results, and the only way to maintain the variety remains the rooting of healthy tops. Moreover, the cuttings need to be cut, stepping as high as possible from the affected area.
In case of Botris disease, geranium is covered with characteristic fluffy gray spots, similar to mold. If the fungus affects the root system, then this is manifested by the yellowing of part of the leaf blades. Subsequently, the yellow areas turn brown or blacken, and the bush becomes covered with a coating similar to a web. In most cases, timely treatment with antifungal drugs gives a positive result.
Alternative wintering pelargonium
The physiology of pelargonium allows the plants to hibernate for several months, which makes it possible to organize a winter for the flowers in the basement or vegetable section of the refrigerator, if there is not enough space on the windowsill.
At a temperature of +4 degrees, which is maintained in the refrigerator, cold basement or glazed balcony, pelargonium can be without light. Therefore, these places are quite suitable for organizing alternative wintering.
In preparation for the dormant period, all plants undergo radical pruning to hemp (3-4 buds), and in plant species with a large root system, the roots are also partially trimmed. In the final state, the root cluster of geraniums should not exceed the size of an average apple.
Then, the prepared specimens are kept in this condition (without plates) for several days, so that the soil dries up. After that, the whole plant "with the head" is wrapped in several layers of the newspaper and in this form is placed in a package of juice or milk like "Tetra Pak". For greater tightness, the package is wrapped with cling film.
About once a week, it is advisable to check wintering plants and, if necessary, replace newspapers with new ones if they become excessively wet. In the case when the wintering is successful, after planting in the soil, the plants quickly begin to grow and gain green mass in front of their eyes.
However, as practice shows, this method does not guarantee 100% survival. With minimal losses, zonal and fragrant geraniums emerge from a similar period of rest, but among the ivy, angels and royal, the largest losses are observed.