Reviving Hanging Baskets

Reviving Hanging Baskets

Many of our customers purchase a hanging basket in mid-May and find themselves wondering why these mixed annuals are no longer looking full and flower filled as the summer goes on. One important thing to know about annual plnats is that they flower at the ends of their new growth. So for hanging baskets this means that often the blooms end up at the end of long, green stems so the arrangement isn’t as attractive as it was in May. Some times these baskets have dried out in between waterings, so there are some leaves that are brown and dried. In other cases the soil has been kept too wet and the plants are yellowing from over watering. Some annuals slow their flowering because they haven’t been deadheaded…once an annual starts to produce seeds the flowering may slow down as a result. And finally, especially here on the Cape, people may see leaves that are spotted from one of the leaf-spot fungi that develop when the plants are damp and the air is cool.

This basket shows the typical early-July look from the stresses of the season.

This basket shows the typical early-July look from the stresses of the season. You can see that the flowers are at the ends of the long green stems, the Verbena has slowed in flowering because it has started to set seeds, there are some leaves with brown edges because they have dried out, and there are some leaf-spots on the leaves.

So what can be done to revive these conditions? Here are the ways that a hanging basket can be revived so that it looks good  for the rest of the summer.

1. Cut the stems back by about half. If you don’t want to cut off all the flowers at one time you can do this gradually, clipping back the longest first on about a third of the stems. In another week or two clip back another third, and then in two weeks clip back the final third so that over a month’s time the entire basket has been pruned. When you cut those stems back that should stimulate new growth and several more stems. Apply a time-release fertilizer such as Osmocote immediately so the new growth will be supported by that feeding.

2. Pick off any spotted or dried leaves. This will improve the look of the basket immediately.

3. Finally, clip off the developing seeds on the remaining stems.

4. If you use a liquid fertilizer instead of a time-release product be sure that you never fertilize a thirsty plant. Water your basket well and let it sit for a couple of hours before applying fertilizer.

Learn to know how the basket feels when it’s well saturated (heavy!) and how it feels when it’s dry. With this knowledge you can lift the basket and immediately know if it’s thirsty or if you can skip watering that day.

Here are the ends that I clipped off of this hanger, along with the spotted and dried leaves.

Here are the ends that I clipped off of this hanger, along with the spotted and dried leaves.


  1. Lisa Higgins on July 2, 2015 at 7:06 am

    Thank you for this article on your blog! Perfect timing! I’ve never been sure what to do to keep my hanging baskets from Mother’s Day looking good.

    • CLFornari on July 2, 2015 at 7:37 am

      Glad it was helpful, Lisa!

  2. Diane Jones on July 2, 2015 at 7:20 am

    How often to apply Bio Remedy???

    • CLFornari on July 2, 2015 at 7:37 am

      Use Bio Remedy once a month but don’t substitute that for fertilizer.

  3. Karen Barry on July 2, 2015 at 8:38 am

    I kept a pink hydrangea from Easter in house, now on shaded porch, is it OK to plant outside now? Sun or shade? Thank you.

    • CLFornari on July 2, 2015 at 8:56 am

      Yes, plant now. Best site for hydrangeas is some place sheltered from winter wind with morning sun and afternoon shade. The ideal is 3 hours of direct sun, either in the AM or very late afternoon, and shade in the mid-day.

  4. Alvin Perry on July 2, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Every year I plant summer squash and stem borers ruin them before they produce many fruit. Do you have info. on the life cycle of this pest? I was told that late planting would help, but how late? Our summers on the cape are rather short for very late planting. Is there a pesticide to prevent them?

    • CLFornari on August 20, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      The old farmer method was to put on gloves and daily lift the vines and wipe any eggs off. We use diatomaecous earth successfully – dusting the top of the vines and the area around the vines well after the plants have dried from a deep watering. (This won’t work if you hand water frequently.) Some also use wood ashes in this way – again, dust the stems and ground around them well. Always destroy a vine that has the borer so that you get rid of it before it pupates and goes back into the ground.

  5. Peggy Swanson on August 20, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Thanks for the tip on trimming back hanging baskets when they start to look bad. Within two weeks flowers came back like I had just bought them. A little hair cut is just what they needed!

    Thanks C.L.


    • CLFornari on August 20, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      SO pleased that you tried it and the baskets improved, Peggy!

  6. Marylou Sanker on July 7, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Some of the leaves of my roses are turning white. What should I do? I love reading your blog, thank you.

    • CLFornari on July 7, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Are they white because something has scraped off the underside of the leaves or white as in burned or sunbleached? Without seeing the foliage it’s impossible to know what’s going on. But the first response in such instances is to 1. Pick off the worst of the leaves so you can better monitor the plant. 2. Water the plant deeply less often (no hand watering!). and 3. Fertilize with Rose-tone or another organic fertilizer. You can also bring some of the leaves into the store so we can help you.

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