Can Geranium Survive Frost?

With their vibrant blossoms and aromatic foliage, geraniums charm gardeners into adding them to gardens, balconies, and windowsills worldwide. The eagerly anticipated arrival of spring raises a crucial question for these enthusiasts: Can geraniums survive frost?

This article explores not only the cold tolerance of these resilient plants but also delves into factors that influence their ability to weather frigid temperatures. Furthermore, it offers practical tips specifically catered towards nurturing geraniums in colder climates.

Understanding Geraniums and Their Varieties

“Commonly known as ‘pelargoniums,’ geraniums comprise a diverse group of flowering plants; their colorful blooms and distinctive, palmately lobed leaves define them. It is important not to mistake these for the true geraniums—often referred to as ‘hardy geraniums’ from the genus Geranium—which exhibit greater cold tolerance.”

People popularly cultivate geraniums as annuals or tender perennials, valuing their continuous blooming over the growing season. Various varieties of geranium exist: these include zonal geraniums; ivy geraniums – known for their trailing growth habit and vibrant flowers – and scented-leafed types, each with its own unique characteristics.

1. Zonal Geraniums

Among the most common types of geraniums are zonal geraniums, scientifically known as Pelargonium x hortorum. Their vibrant round leaves feature distinct zones of color; however, these particular geraniums—typically grown as annuals—are more sensitive to cold temperatures than certain other varieties.

2. Ivy Geraniums

Characterized by their trailing stems and cascading foliage, ivy geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) prove ideal for hanging baskets and containers; their general cold tolerance surpasses that of zonal geraniums. However, even they—despite this resilience—still face limits in terms of frost exposure.

3. Scented-Leaf Geraniums

Prizing the fragrant foliage of scented-leaf geraniums (Pelargonium spp. ), one can experience a scent spectrum that spans from citrus and mint to rose and chocolate. Usually regarded as tender perennials, these geraniums garner cultivation for their aromatic attributes.

Geraniums and Frost: The Delicate Balance

Native to warm and temperate regions, geraniums lack natural frost resistance. Yet, their ability to endure cold temperatures hinges on several factors: the particular type of geranium; the intensity of the frost—whether it is mild or severe—and overall plant health.

1. Temperature Thresholds

Generally, geraniums exhibit sensitivity to temperatures below 32°F (0°C). Exposure to such freezing conditions induces cellular damage and ruptures the plant’s tissues, irreversibly harming it.

2. Frost Tolerance of Different Varieties

Some varieties of geraniums, despite their generally low frost tolerance, demonstrate superior cold resistance compared to others. Typically, the trailing ivy geraniums exhibit higher cold tolerance than zonal geraniums due to their unique habit.

Similarly, scented-leaf geraniums might showcase varying degrees of resistance to frost based on the particular species involved.

3. Maturity and Frost Resistance

The geranium plant’s ability to withstand frost depends on its maturity. Typically, mature plants with well-established root systems and sturdy structures exhibit more resilience compared to young seedlings or recently transplanted geraniums.

Factors Influencing Frost Damage

1. Duration of Exposure

The extent of frost damage significantly depends on how long geraniums are exposed to freezing temperatures. Minimal harm may occur from brief, light frosts; however, prolonged exposure to these icy conditions can cause more severe consequences for the plants.

2. Humidity Levels

The likelihood and severity of frost damage may vary under the influence of humidity levels. Specifically, in dry conditions where plants lose moisture rapidly, they become more susceptible to freezing temperatures; thus escalating the risk for potential frost damage.

3. Microclimates

Variations in temperature can emerge within a garden or planting area due to the existence of microclimates. More pronounced drops in temperature may occur at low-lying areas or zones where cold air gathers, thereby escalating the peril of frost damage to geraniums situated there.

geranium flowers in the garden

Protective Measures for Geraniums During Frost

1. Covering Plants

Forecasted. frost necessitates the action of covering geraniums with lightweight blankets, frost cloth, or burlap to establish a protective barrier. Such coverings effectively trap heat near the plants: this elevates temperature and minimizes risks associated with frost damage.

2. Moving Containers Indoors

During frosty nights, one can move Geraniums planted in containers or hanging baskets indoors. By placing them in a sheltered location – a garage, for instance; or a covered porch – we shield these plants from freezing temperatures.

3. Applying Mulch

Particularly in regions where frost sporadically occurs, the application of a layer of organic mulch around geranium plants’ base insulates soil and safeguards roots from extreme temperature fluctuations.

4. Watering Before a Frost

Plants that are well-hydrated demonstrate a heightened resilience to frost damage. If one were to water the soil encircling geraniums prior to an anticipated frost event, it would assist in creating a thermal buffer; this is because moist soil is more efficient than its dry counterpart and retains heat.

5. Pruning Damaged Growth

Assess the damage extent on geranium plants post a frost event. Prune any growth that the frost has affected to foster new, healthy development.

Overwintering Geraniums

Gardeners in regions where frost seasonally occurs often grapple with the task of preserving their geraniums through winter. Overwintering, however, provides a solution by allowing rejuvenation for the upcoming growing season. Consider these strategies to successfully overwinter your geraniums:

1. Digging Up and Potting

Before the initial frost, one must cautiously uproot geranium plants from their garden. After trimming any overly elongated stems, they should pot these plants in containers filled with well-draining soil. Subsequently, position the pots in an indoor area that receives ample sunlight; a window facing south would be ideal.

2. Reducing Watering

Overwintered geraniums necessitate less water compared to their actively growing counterparts; therefore, it is essential to allow the soil a slight dry-out period between each watering: this measure prevents root rot.

Furthermore, maintaining these plants in an environment that strikes a balance, cool yet non-freezing is crucial for optimal growth and health.

3. Pruning and Trimming

During the overwintering period, actively prune back geraniums to stimulate bushier growth. Eliminates any dead or yellowing leaves and removes spent blossoms – this action not only preserves the plant’s shape but also mitigates disease risks.

4. Reintroducing Outdoors in Spring

Gradually reintroduce overwintered geraniums to outdoor conditions as the threat of spring frost diminishes. Begin their exposure with a few hours of sunlight per day, steadily increasing it. Transplant them back into the garden after you are certain that all risks for frost have passed.


Indeed, the adaptability of these cherished plants shines through as geraniums demonstrate resilience in the face of frost. Gardeners, recognizing that freezing temperatures may not be within their natural range for survival, take various protective measures to foster thriving conditions for geraniums even in colder climates.

They carefully select varieties with enhanced cold tolerance; they cover them during nights characterized by a sharp drop in temperature – a strategy commonly known as overwintering indoors or shielding against frosty conditions – and actively indulge:

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