Redo Your Hanging Baskets

For a Refresh

You've spent enough of your budget on bedding plants, trailers, stuffers and even more on the soil, the fertilizer, and the baskets - you shouldn't need to repurchase all that in the middle of the summer when the baskets start to fail and look terrible.

Redo Hanging Baskets

So don't!  Refresh the plants by cutting them back so they can push out more foliage and bloom again. 

This is not difficult, and the decision is easy to make, especially when you can see the bald spot in the top where the legs of the plants get bare.

This looks bad, and there is a fix.  Cut off all the dangling bits, giving it a haircut. Use sharp pruners or scissors so the cuts heal quickly.

Then, use a good water soluble fertilizer, or something like Gaia Greens organic fertilizer with a 10:10:10 formulation (which means that the Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus are balanced) and water it well.

For a week, this may look worse, but then the magic happens.  In the axil of every leaf on every plant, new buds will sprout. 

Now, instead of one main stem, there is a profusion of new growth, each with at least one potential flower bud. Soon, the whole basket is fully leafed out and blooming again. 

The timing is important when you redo the hanging baskets.

This is what to look for;

  • Slowing blooms
  • Smaller flowers
  • Dead or dying branches
  • Dead or browning leaves
  • 'Scraggliness' - a highly technical term, but you'll know it when you see it.

When your hanging baskets show these signs, usually at the end of July or into the middle of August, you know it's time to prepare.

Take the basket down, if it's not too heavy, and put it into an unused pot that's the same size, for stability. I suggest not to do this right after watering - do that at the end, once the redo is finished.

Keep track of the chains, making sure they're still attached to the basket.

Then cut off all the growth below the edge of the basket, just like giving a kid a bowl cut.  If there are taller plants in the middle, take a bit off the top too. All plants sold for hanging basket stuffers are chosen for their nonchalant growth habits - this won't kill them. 

Don't do this to plants you're especially fond of, such as ferns or orchids.  I can't guarantee that they will appreciate this treatment.  But if the plants in your baskets are things like petunias, lobelia, callibrachoa and nasturtiums, these will all respond well to a hard pruning in mid summer.

Mixed hanging basket full of flowersGive these plants a quick haircut to promote more bloom, then fertilize

Then sprinkle the fertilizer granules around the plants, allowing them to drop to the soil. If you use a water soluble fertilizer, hang the basket up now, prior to watering.  In the case of the dry fertilizer or worm castings, they will appreciate being watered then left to assimilate the fertilizer.


Now that there is a lot less greenery on the baskets, reduce the amount you water!  Otherwise, giving them the same amount of water as you were when they were full and in bloom, they will get waterlogged as they won't be needing this much moisture.

Pay attention to them for the next couple of weeks, but by the middle to end of August they'll be thriving and blooming madly. 

This method of redoing hanging baskets gives  you another month or two of gorgeous, healthy flowers depending on your climate.

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