Time to pot up geraniums and canna lilies

geraniums and canna lilies

Have you been overwintering geraniums and/or canna lilies from last year’s garden? Now that it’s early February, it’s time to pot them up. And considering the fact that it’s so snowy and stormy outside here, this is a nice way to play in dirt inside my toasty home!

Last February, I shot a video on potting up geraniums. Have a look, then I’ll discuss how to pot up canna lilies: 

Last fall, I saved 7 of my 8 geraniums, discarding one of them that didn’t look all that great. For the first time since I started overwintering geraniums a few years ago, I actually lost a plant during this winter so only ended up with 6. But that’s OK: in the past, I used to toss my geraniums into the compost pile at the end of the season, so this means I’m 6 plants ahead!

Here’s a photo of how they looked after I potted those 6. And as usual, they look atrocious, but once they get some sunlight and start growing, they’ll look terrific again. For now, I’m just watering them lightly until they have some nice leaves. Then I’ll give them some diluted fish fertilizer and also prune them back a bit to make the plants more compact.

OK, let’s talk about canna lilies!

I dug up the roots out of our front perennial bed much later than usual last year so was concerned they might not survive the winter in the basement. Fortunately, most of them looked pretty decent.

Here’s the routine:

geraniums and canna liliesLook over each bulb and see if it looks fleshy and has some whitish sprouts or swollen areas of the bulb. If the bulb looks really brown and dry, toss it. If there’s a nice sprout on a large bulb, but the other end of it looks lifeless, I’ll snap off the dead end and just plant the sprouted section. Trim off any dead leaves.

Gather your pots. I’ve found gallon-size pots work best since canna bulbs are so large. Make sure they’re clean. I like to place a coffee filter in the bottom of each pot so the potting soil won’t run out of the drainage holes.

geraniums and canna liliesFill the bottom 2-3 inches of the pot with lightly-moistened potting soil (don’t use garden soil: it will compact too much and can contain pathogens). Set the bulb on top of the soil, then carefully fill the rest of the pot with soil and press it down firmly around the bulb.

Place the pots into a flat that doesn’t have drainage holes so you can water the pots without getting the floor or other surface damp.

Set the pots in a sunny location. I’ve got mine sitting in front of our sliding glass door. I did this last year (the first year I overwintered canna lilies) and it worked great. Before you know it, you’ll start seeing some sprouts coming up!