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I have a couple of pelargonia in pots. They live on a south facing balcony, and generally seem pretty happy there in the summer. (In my previous posts, they lived elsewhere and were much less happy. On this balcony they generally got a lot less etiolated.) I put them in a cellar overwinter (probably around early November? I forget), to protect them from the frost, and have just taken them back out, and watered them for the first time in 4 months.

You can see them below.

Question 1: Is this about the right time to have brought them out?

As you can see, they've reacted to being in the dark for ~4 months by growing a bunch of chlorophyll-free etiolated "stems". Which is roughly what I was expecting.

Question2: What should I do with them now?

I assume that in the medium term I want to cut all that long growth off, but I don't know whether I should be doing that immediately, or whether I should be giving them a few weeks (2?) of sun to start growing some "real" buds, before I do that?

I'm expecting to leave all the old growth (though to take off all the dead leaves and any dead flower heads). Is that correct? Or should I be pruning it down? If so, when? Prune it now, whilst it appears 'dead', or wait for it to start showing buds and good stems, and then do it.

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Prune them right back (all stems) down to about 1-2 inches, and remove any stems which have signs of mould or rot completely, and remove any dead leaves left, plus any sitting on the soil. Turn them out of their pots, shake or take off as much soil as possible without causing too much root damage and repot into fresh potting soil, water. Keep them inside in the brightest daylight/sunlight position possible until temperatures outdoors are around 19/20 deg C during the day, and not lower than about 9 or 10 degrees at night, which is usually May in the UK, although in London, it could be earlier (mid April), depending on weather condtions. Once growth begins, start fertilizing (something like Miracle Gro general purpose added to the water) once a week. You will need to harden them off prior to moving them outside for the summer months.

One other thing - do not let the bottom of the pots sit in water, empty those trays 30 minutes after watering.

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  • Re watering, yes. That was 5 minutes after first watering in 4 months, so soil was bone dry and not absorbent. Had reabsorbed all the water within 30-45 minutes. – Brondahl Mar 8 at 0:15
  • Keep the etiolated leaves out of the direct sun for a while - they may be damaged by strong light. Not sure how long until they become resistant. – Polypipe Wrangler Mar 8 at 11:36
  • Fair enough - so long as you don't let them sit in water ongoing, that's fine. I've just this morning cut all mine from last year back and potted them up... – Bamboo Mar 8 at 11:49

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