$667 Later (Ouch!) and How Well Did the Geraniums and Foxtail Fern Winter Over?

Happy Weekend! How is your weekend going? The last few days here have been all about getting back to where I was before the recent lightning storm. I have a new modem, compliments of my cable company. I had to purchase new computer speakers to replace the Yamaha speakers I’ve been using for 25+ years–they no longer worked after the strike. And $509.68 later, my garage door opener is working again. Apparently, the strike fried the circuit board in the opener and took out the door sensors. All in all, that storm did $667.62 in damage, at least that I’ve found so far.

I was reading online about whole-house surge protectors. They are very expensive to have installed, and from what I’ve read, they don’t always prevent things from being damaged. Do you have a whole-house surge protector? If so, would you recommend I add one to my home?

These are the speakers I purchased and they are awesome! I have a set on the desk where I work in Ohio and love them, so I decided to purchase them again for my office here in Georgia. (If you need great sounding speakers for your computer, you’ll find them here: Speakers.)

Bose Companion Speakers for Home Computer


On to happy things–here in Georgia, April 15th is our “safe-to-plant-annuals” date. I took a look at our weather for the next 5 days and it’s looking really good. So I decided it was time to put the annuals I wintered over this past winter back out onto the deck. You may remember my geraniums were looking pretty sad after being neglected when I was away visiting family for 3 weeks during the month of August. They didn’t get watered during those three weeks except by Mother Nature. They survived but were looking pretty sad. You may remember that I wanted to see if I could winter them over and bring them back to life for spring.


The wintering-over process went very well! On pretty days when the temps were above freezing, I would pull them out into the driveway to soak up the sun. Starting around early March, I began fertilizing them with Osmocote and Miracle Grow. I am thrilled with how they are looking! The Foxtail Fern even has 4-5 new fronds.


I was stunned when I placed the three smaller pots of geraniums into the plant stand on the porch where those always go. Normally when I buy new geraniums each year, they are typically kinda small and take a couple of months to really fill out. Not this year! They were so big after sunning themselves on warm days this past winter, I could barely fit all three pots into the stand!


They already have so many buds–those should be blooming very soon. I’m not sure I can winter them over again, or if I do, they will have to go into much bigger pots and I’ll need new plants for the stand because these are almost too big for the stand now.


Every year I buy a large, red geranium for the porch. I take it out onto the deck on sunny days for a bit of sun since geraniums need the sun like a fish needs water.

Blue Garden Stool with Red Geranium


Normally the big geranium lives here on this shabby wood chair on the porch during the summer months.

Red Geranium on Shabby White Chair


This is how it looked in the fall after going through the August heat when I wasn’t here to water it. (It’s in the large pot on this end of the cart.)


And here’s how it looks now! Quite the change! I can’t believe how healthy it looks! It’s not blooming yet but it should be very soon. It’s so nice not having to drive to the nursery, spend money on plants, bring them all home in the car, transplant them from plastic pots into clay pots and wait for them to get bigger. I feel like I’ve jumped forward a couple of months. Good thing I saved some $$$ this year since I needed them for the speakers and the garage door repair. Argggh.


I could tell that the Foxtail Fern I wintered over was pretty badly pot-bound. I’ve been meaning to transplant it to a larger pot.


Here’s how it looked when I removed it from the plastic pot it was in! Wow! Those round things are called tubers. I did a bit of reading about these ferns online today and apparently, when a Foxtail Fern is planted in the garden, it will spread out and choke out the surrounding plants. I’m glad I have it in a pot!


I think it’s breathing a sigh of relief right now! I transplanted it into a pot that’s a couple of inches wider so now it has an extra 1-2 inches all the way around to grow and spread out.

Foxtail Fern After Repotting for Spring


Remember the Leyland Cypress Trees I planted as a screening plant quite a few years back? They get a lot of shade since all the trees in my backyard are so large, so they grew more slowly than those that were planted here 30 years ago.


They are now two stories tall! This is the view from the screened porch that’s a full story up. I’m sure my neighbors appreciate the privacy and not having to listen to my jazz music from the porch. 😉 Just kidding! I usually keep it pretty low.


Here’s our weather for the next 10 days. I can’t wait to get out and spiffy up the screened porch as soon as the pollen slows down. Looking forward to sharing some tables on the porch and deck with you real soon!

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  1. franki Parde says

    OMG…how did I miss your lightening strike??!!?? Thankfully…it wasn’t worse!! When living in Arlington my neighbor had fire come through her phone because of a strike. Your geraniums look fabulous!!! I am “so tempted”…but, we’re 7a…so, alas, not yet. Soon….franki

  2. Lyland Cypress: my next door neighbor planted several along property line on her side. She deeply regrets doing so because they obstruct her view of the lake behind our houses. I regret that she planted them too because they grew so tall, obstructed sunshine for my vegetable garden to the point that I cannot even grow a tomato plant in a pot. Also they rubbed up against my beautiful white fence between the two yards and turned the fence a miserable green (which we have to power wash on our side; we could not even be neighborly and try to power wash her side because they are jammed against the fence…..and they are pushing their branches onto the top of my fence. I have had to get a tree trimming company to try to chop them back off my fence (at my expense of course). Folks: speak to your neighbor before you plant a tree or shrub to determine if it is going to be too ‘invasive’. If your neighbor has a swimming pool, PLEASE talk with the neighbor before you plant anything……stuff comes off shrubs, trees and gets in the pool clogging the filtering system…..just ask me….I fight with oak tree droppings and crepe myrtles every summer. The top of my pool is literally pink with crepe myrtle blooms!!!

    • No one has a pool in our neighborhood and the Leyland Cypress trees I planted are planted in my yard, inside my fence–it’s not my neighbor’s fence. Sounds like you are very sensitive to anyone planting trees, based on your experience. Virginia, you may want to consider moving to a subdivision where the houses are a lot further apart or perhaps on property that’s far away from other homes. That way you won’t have to worry if someone plants trees in their yard–it won’t affect you. I’m sorry you are so unhappy with your current situation and your neighbor’s trees.

  3. Teresa M. says

    That’s good news that they fixed the garage door. Crazy how expensive the repairs/replacements added up to from one power surge.

    We have gas generator. No to a whole house surge protector but we do have “monster” surge protectors for expensive AV equipment as well as Belkin surge protectors through-out the house for other items. Then I tape the receipt to the protector in case it fails and keep the original packaging or sometimes just take a photo. My experience with Belkin was very good at reimbursing for any items plugged into their surge protectors and they send a new unit too.

    Your Leyland cypress really screened your home well.
    Foxtail ferns are one of my favs. They look modern and fun. Thankfully they grow well here in Texas too when irrigated.
    The bright side is you saved on the expense of new plants! 🙂
    Happy Spring

    • That’s great to learn about the Belkin brand. Thanks for sharing that info, Teresa. I also like your idea of taping the receipt to the s.p. or taking a photo. Good tips!

  4. I recommend a whole house surge protector- a great help in Houston weather

    What it doesn’t help with is a direct jolt into your house, not through the transmission line

    In one forested area we lived in the 2 story house took a jolt from a drain line, frying ceiling fans, outlets, and switches straight across the front of the 2nd story- 2 bedrooms, stairwell and game room.

    Also, when adding that, if you don’t already have a plug in for a gasoline or diesel generator, do that too- even if you have a natural gas generator

    Getting through power outages is easier and you can offer a place in the storm to others and/or be in shape to go assist others

    • Joy, so sorry that happened to you! Wow. But thanks for the good info. To clarify, do you mean that you can have your electrician install a special plug for your gas generator? (I’ve never heard of that and we recently got a generator, so I’d like to know.) Thanks!

  5. You must have green thumbs! I’d love to know where you acquired the wire rectangular planter shown under a window. It would be perfect for my needs. Cheers

    • I think I found it in Marshall’s…either there are it could have been HomeGoods. It’s been so long, hard to remember. I do remember it was very inexpensive.

    • Hetty, I was just thinking, I may have found that stand in HomeDepot or Lowes, so you may want to check those two places.

  6. Helène Reid says

    We are at a high point and had 3-4 strikes/ surges during storms. We added a whole house surge protector 20 years ago and no problem since. We feel it was a good investment.
    You can winter over geraniums every year. Take them out of the pot, cut them back and store in a brown paper bag. Pot them up in February or March and watch them grow.

  7. We had a whole house surge protector installed when we built 20+ years ago. Had the pump and pool heater fritz with a lightening hit at the old house. We have not had any damage in the new place and we live in the lightening capital of the US! I’d do it again.

  8. Gayle Kesinger says

    As usual, recently Dallas weather has been crazy. Cold, hot, drought, rain, tornados, you name it. And now for the next three days storms, possible tornados, high winds, hail, etc., pumped out daily on the news. My yard is truly a spring garden and is quite lovely but a constant worry about hail and high winds. Nevertheless, I carry on and enjoy the best part of Spring!

  9. Just finished watching Holmes (tv show on HGTV) and they just installed a whole house surge protector. He says it’s necessary. It’s a small device. For under $500 why wouldn’t you have one? Everything that was fried (or could’ve been fried) has already cost you more.

    • I was discouraged by an article I read that said they don’t always work. Just hate to spend that if it’s not going to work. Also, I have two circuit panels so that may require two if that’s where they are installed. I’ve lived here 31 years and this is the first time I’ve lost anything to lightning. I asked the garage door repair guy about whole house surge protectors. He said he grew up in FL, which he called the lightning capital of the United States, and he said no one he knew had surge protectors and they had multiple storms per day. So that’s why I’m a little hesitant…just not sure it’s worth it, especially if I need to have two installed which would double the cost. Hopefully they are installed outside and not on the circuit panel(s). Definitely need to think about it.

  10. Our temperatures got to a low of 31 degrees below last night and I had brought my plants in luckily. This is odd weather for SC.

  11. So sorry you had to go through all that – it’s such a hassle even if we understand about nature, etc … . But your plants are lovely – and that geranium!! Obviously they liked their winter home. 🙂 Always love catching up with you and getting such great tips and recommendations. Thanks and Happy Sunday!

  12. Wow! The geraniums and fox tail fern look amazing! I will be spending on annuals come late May. That’s a great way to save the time, energy and money. And I cannot believe how large those Leyland Cypress have grown! I remember when you planted those.
    We installed a whole house surge protector when we renovated our former home. It was worth it. We had a storm fry a TV and stereo speakers once. Not sure what it’d cost you, but I’d check it out. Can you imagine if your computer hard drive had been fried?! We use OneDrive, but still….switching to a new computer is such a hassle with programs.

    • Rita, was your whole house surge protector placed at the panels or outside where the power comes in? I have two panels in my basement so I think I would have double the cost if it goes at the panel.

  13. We have surge protectors on the individual things that can be damaged. I’m so happy to see your plants looking so beautiful. We are supposed to be warming up this week so I’ll be dragging mine out to get some sun but they are not nearly so far along as yours.

  14. Ouch on the purse Susan, but it could have been worse, so thankfully it wasn’t! Still, not a cheap fix. I don’t know about home surge protection….I just have a lighten rod that goes into the ground. I guess that is what was done back in the day. Knock on wood…..I’ve not had any lightening strikes in the 30 years I’ve been here. Your geraniums have rebounded beautifully! Is your garage heated in the winter? I would love to do something like this, but my garage, not attached to the house, is only a “pole barn” building and so only metal. I’m afraid our winters, although the past few years have been warmer, would be too cold to do this. I love that you don’t have to buy new plants this year and are ahead of the game size wise. Love the fern too, it rebounded beautifully too! Hugs, Brenda

  15. Susan, so sorry about your issues. Won’t your homeowners insurance cover it? Maybe your deductible is higher than the replacement costs. It’s amazing you’d had those speakers for 25 years though! Lol. Now I wonder how long they would have worked if it had not been for the strike!

    The plants look beautiful. I love the look of the foxtail ferns. To me, they have a fuzzy look that I like. And the geraniums, wow. I love that you brought them outside on sunny days during the winter.

    Like Rita, I remember when you planted those leyland cypress. I thought you were brave to take down the previous group. We added some more to a line we have near a creek at the back of our property. For the first couple of years, they barely grew an inch. Then they settled in and now they are flourishing and growing so fast. I absolutely love seeing plants settle in and enjoy their home. I once planted a hydrangea plant that was probably about 1 1/2 – 2 feet tall, initially. By the next summer, it was five feet tall!! I couldn’t believe how happy it was where it was planted.

    We’ve got rain in store for the next few days. My husband said, let’s face it, we live in Seattle. (We don’t, he just thinks it feels like it because of all the rain.) Enjoy your nice weather!

  16. Wow Susan, bravo on wintering your plants over in the garage. I do the same thing with my cold sensitive plants. Your geraniums look amazing! I’ve had a Foxtail fern for two years that I bring in each winter. They do get very “pot bound” in short order. If you would like to have more of them you can cut the root ball in half or in quarters and pot up each piece. If you do that I would suggest doing it in the fall a few weeks before you bring them into the garage. They will look like a chopped up plant at first but come spring they will fill out and you will have more Foxtails. Here’s a video on how to divide Foxtails.
    https://youtu.be/HFJKUwgxcIQ Wishing you a beautiful Easter.

  17. Tina W Reynolds says

    Sorry to hear about all of the electronic damage! What a nuisance. I am a lady who loves her garage door opener and must admit, when it was zapped in a power outage, I had to be talked through how to get it detached and raise the door manually. I would need that talk again if it happens again! LOL!

  18. Ughh—I’m sorry your lightning damage was more than just the modem. But, just think what you saved in annuals!. I am SO impressed by the results of overwintering your geraniums & foxtail fern! The geraniums are healthier & heartier than most that I can buy! I’ve always envious of your long growing season—your cypress trees’ growth is as amazing as your boxwoods & Peegee hydrangeas. Up here in Chicagoland, I’m just now seeing my little snowdrops & daffodils tentatively nodding their little heads. We are having a long, chilly spring, that keeps slipping back into winter precip. ❄️

  19. We have a whole house surge protector on our electrical panel. They are meant more for power surges, not lightening strikes.

  20. When we upgraded our electrical panel we added a whole house surge protector. They are meant for electrical surges when the power is turned back on by your power company. When making the decision we created a list of everything in our house that has a computer chip. There are so many things that people don’t think about having a chip, like the thermostat or dehumidifiers. After that it was an easy decision to put one in. It’s amazing how many things in your home could be fried by an electrical surge! We still have individual suppressors on very sensitive electronics (like computers) in case of lightening strike.

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