Why, you ask, especially when you've taken such good care of them. It probably isn't from a lack of attention. When this happens, it's time for more than a nip and tuck tidy-up. A thorough pruning is necessary to solve the problem. Because your hanging baskets and houseplants are not always within easy reach, these tips can help you maintain the appearance of your elevated plants while extending the length of time they bloom.

group of hanging plant baskets

Full, lush, professional-looking hanging baskets are quite possible to maintain at home. And it's not as difficult as you might think.

Plant pulley/carabiner

These hooks make raising and lowering hanging plants easy. They lock in place at the desired height, making pruning and caring for your up-in-the-air plants much more convenient.


To use a carabiner, push the adjustment switch to the unlock position, adjust the cord to your desired length, and push the switch back to the locked position. Hang your plant on the bottom hook. Unlock the adjustment switch and it automatically retracts. Carabiners are strong and can hold ample weight.

To reduce the weight of a hanging basket, use a light potting soil mix that contains a large amount of perlite or vermiculite, or add some to your favorite mix.

Make pruning your hanging baskets easier with a Made in USA pulley/carabiner.

Long-reach hand pruners

If you don't want to hang a plant pulley from your ceiling, long-reach hand pruners could be the answer. Granted, these would not be the easiest garden tools to use indoors since they are designed for use outside. But gardeners, being a resourceful bunch, often find new uses for their garden tools and gadgets.

long reach pruners

(long-reach pruners; photo mine)

Refreshing a hanging basket

Pruning allows room for new growth by removing dead and dying branches. It deters pest and animal infestation while promoting healthy growth and encouraging the plant's natural shape.

girl pruning potted plant

Using sharp shears or scissors, trim a few inches off the entire basket. You can decide how much you want to cut, but a trim of 1-2 inches is usually sufficient. However, there are times when your plants will need more pruning. If there are any untidy trailing pieces, remove them.

Giving the basket a thorough pruning is going to eliminate some of the blooms, but it will also increase branching, compact the growth habit, and make the plant look more attractive for the remainder of the season. Blooming should begin again within a few days to approximately a week. You may want to add a little fertilizer to encourage new growth.

plant pruners

Tip: Remember the rule of three. You can encourage branching in all types of hanging basket plants by trimming three stems in half every week. Snip them off about four inches above the soil line.

Colorful Made in USA pruners are handy to have.

Self-cleaning plants

Though this type of plant stays neater longer, self-cleaning plants will still need a little attention.

Prune spent petunia blooms by cutting the fine green flower stems back to a branch. Don’t pull the spent blossoms since that will make the plant think it's time to set seed.

basket of pink petunias

(my Supertunia® 'Giant Pink')

Other popular basket plants

Geraniums in hanging baskets should be deadheaded when all the buds have opened fully. Snip the entire flower stem back to the branch.

To give them a rounder shape, prune ivy geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) in hanging baskets. Focus on the stems that are becoming woody. This will often encourage more blooming, as well as create a more pleasing appearance.

basket of red geraniums

Petunias, begonias, Plectranthus scutellarioides (commonly called coleus), and impatiens in hanging baskets will also enjoy a good pruning. Follow the 'rule of three'. Deadhead any spent flower stems as well.

They're beautiful in containers on the ground, too.

colorful container with red coleus

(photos above and below are mine)

multicolored container of plants

For nasturtiums and other vining plants, cut yellowed leaves near the soil line at the same time you prune them.

Fuchsia is an extremely low-maintenance hanging basket plant. Check weekly for weak stems and spent flowers. During the height of summer heat, prune away about 1/3 of the plant.

hanging fuchsia basket

To prune filler plants such as verbena and lobelia, cut them back by a third. In a couple of weeks, they should return nicely.

Hanging baskets are beautiful, versatile, and fun to grow.

colorful blue and pink trailing plants

spike of white flowers

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