I recently did a post on how to have Hanging Baskets that last all summer long by swapping out spring baskets with ones you planted up in mid-late May. It’s a great technique that will keep you in flowers right up to the first hard frost.
But there is a way to revive hanging baskets that are looking haggard come mid June. The key here is to do it right now and be very… very brave!
As I explained in my other post, the baskets you buy in early April have been growing since January and they will give you plenty of gorgeous color right through May into early summer. But they will begin to look leggy and decline by the time the heat really kicks in leaving you with something less than stellar when you are ready to entertain and host your BBQ parties.
You need to renovate those plants NOW before it’s too late which means you will have to sacrifice some blooms for a few weeks, but trust me… it will be worth the tears.
Here’s a tired looking basket, yes it still has flowers on it but it has reached a crucial point and if you don’t cut it back now… it won’t have enough time to bounce back for summer bloom time.
I tell my customers to ‘give it a haircut’…. grab your scissors and cut back your flowers by half to two leaves down the stem. Like this picture below:
See those two little leaves close to the stem? Those are axillary or lateral buds that are not triggered to grow until the apical dominant terminal bud is removed. Huh? Whoie whatie? Let me explain so you can tell all your friends and sound like a true garden geek like me..
Basically, the shoot apex (lead growing point) inhibits the growth of lateral (side shoots) from growing so that the plant can grow vertically. Removal of that growing point is what is referred to as ‘pinching’ back your plant.
(Quickie tip for sterilizing your shears and scissors when pruning plants: give them a spray of Lysol Disinfectant spray… I know…. never thought of that did you…. your welcome)
Back to Plant Biology 101!
Auxin is a plant hormone that is produced in the growing point (shoot apex) of the plant. Once removed, latent (resting) buds will compete to become the lead growing point.
That is how we get big beautiful bushy plants people and this is the key to reviving hanging baskets!
This is not going to be easy…. you may even cry a little. But suck it up buttercup, your going to have to sacrifice a little now to gain more later. I admit, I have a hard time hacking away at my pretty bloomer but it’s a necessary evil.
After you will be left with an almost green planter (and a big dose of regret and guilt). Now this is not going to look pretty for a couple of weeks, you must feed and water this baby to get it to put back on size, but it won’t be long before your hanging basket is flushing again!
Here are my other hanging baskets that I gave a HUGE haircut too. It was not easy pulling these down to cut them back when they are looking so good…. a glass of wine certainly helped.
Lobelia (those feathery blue flowers) and verbena (the white pompom like flowers) will look horrible in a couple of weeks if I don’t do this now. Lobelia is NOT a fan of hot summer weather but this ‘hair cut’ is going to help it be more tolerant.
I do not have an after picture.. yet. But there was no time to waste to get this post out, this must be done
My baskets were cut back on June 15th. I will post an updated picture in a couple of weeks to show you the results… be sure to check back.
Now, go grab some clean scissors, a glass of wine, apologize to your flowers and revive those hanging baskets for summer.
I will continue to add updated pictures so you can see the progress, be sure to check back!
One week after cutting back….
The tiny center leaves of the lateral buds are pushing out and new leaves are starting to grow. At the center you can see a flower bud beginning to form.
I was invited back to Global News on June 27th to show how to keep your baskets looking great! See the above pinching technique in action here:
Week 3 since cutting back, it’s now the middle of July and these baskets will continue to put on size all summer long. The 10″ green hanging basket has re-flushed with blooms, the verbena is healthy and vibrant. The wooden basket that got an extreme haircut is performing beautifully with fresh petunia blossoms and the Lobelia has fully recovered.
Peace Love Garden