You go to the garden center. You buy a beautiful hanging basket that was full, lush, and drop dead gorgeous. A month or two goes by and your basket starts to look a little drab. You wonder to yourself: "how come they can do it but I can't?". Well, truth is, we just cut back our baskets when they start getting a little overgrown.
With a simple trick like this, you can take a leggy, overgrown basket to full and beautiful again!
Now let's understand why baskets start looking like this and why cutting them back works.
Most plants follow what we call Apical Dominance. This refers to the fact that plants will continue to elongate their stems from their growing tips in an effort to outgrow their neighbors for sunlight (whether they even have neighbors or not). In order for plants to achieve this, they produce a chemical in the growing tips (called the apical meristem) that inhibits the buds below them (lateral buds) from growing. This makes the plants grow nice and tall, but not full and bushy.
This growth habit can be great if you're trying to grow a privacy hedge, but this is problematic for a hanging basket. We don’t necessarily want the longest hanging basket around. We want the fullest.
To make our plants grow out nice and full, we need to remove the growing tips from the plant in order to let the lateral buds below them grow. Remember: Every branch of the plant you trim, you end up with 2 branches, which doubles the fullness of your basket!
See all those lateral buds breaking out! This basket is on its way to looking beautiful!
If you want to avoid having to cut your basket all the way back like in the video, simply cut it back a little bit every other week. Leave some of the shorter branches that have flowers on them alone but trim off the longer ones each time you cut it back. That way you maintain a beautiful basket all season long!.