Garden Forever
First Aid for a Dried Out Hanging Basket
by Jackie Carroll

Let's face it: Our houseplants aren't the most important things on our to-do lists, and even the most attentive gardeners will sometimes forget to water the hanging baskets. The good news is that unless the plants are completely dead, they can usually be revived.

Begin by clipping off dead flowers and browning leaves. See! It looks better already. Now cut back yellowing stems and stems with a good many yellowing leaves to encourage the plant to send out new shoots. If your plant has trailing stems, you may have to detangle the stems first to determine which are worth keeping.

If you're like me, you may find it hard to clip off buds that will be opening soon, so use your own judgment to determine if this is necessary. A plant with a lot of damage will have more trouble recovering if it's trying to support buds during the recovery period, and the buds may eventually fall off without opening anyway. If the damage is mild, leave the buds that are on undamaged stems in place.

Watering a dried out basket can be difficult. You may find that as you pour water into the basket it simply runs out without wetting the soil. The best way to overcome this is to run a pan of tepid water, and add a drop or two of dishwashing liquid. The dishwashing liquid acts as a wetting agent and allows the water to soak into the soil. Set your plant inside the pan of water and leave it for at least an hour, or until the basket is saturated, and mist the plants a time or two while they soak. If there are heavy chains or ropes attached to your basket, support them with a stick so that they don't lay on top of your plants. When the plants are dry, it doesn't take much weight to break the stems and leaves. Like choosing the best fishing lures for catfish, caring for a dried out hanging basket is a delicate process. Take your time and the plant will stay intact.

At this point we want to do everything we can to help our plants get back on their feet, but it's best to avoid feeding them for about five days. This gives them time to overcome the shock before trying to send out new shoots.

Watch your recovering plants closely for signs of insects or disease. In their weakened state, they are more susceptible to pests and fungus, and they should be treated right away if you suspect a problem. Before you know it, your basket will be bursting with blooms again.

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First Aid for a Dried Out Hanging Basket is a copyrighted article by the author, Jackie Carroll, who has kindly given Garden Forever permission to publish it on our website. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of Jackie Carroll is strictly forbidden.