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How To Save Struggling Hanging Baskets – 2 Simple Secrets To Success!

So is it really possible to save struggling hanging baskets and bring them back to life? You bet it is!

The secret to success all lies in recognizing the specific cause, and taking swift corrective action to remedy it. And when it comes to hanging baskets, those issues can usually be traced to an overgrown and stressed out root structure.

dying basket plant
Saving a struggling hanging basket means taking swift action before it’s too late.

But the good news is it’s easier to fix than you might think. Even for novice growers. And before you know it, you can have those plants blooming and booming!

Diagnosing The Problem – How To Save A Struggling Hanging Basket

The first step is to make sure your plant is not suffering from a simple lack of attention. Whether that be too much or too little water, or a lack of nutrients.

Those issues can easily be remedied, simply by applying the right amount of fertilizer, and watering on a regular, regimented schedule. (see : How To Fertilize Hanging Baskets For Success)

struggling hanging baskets
Hanging baskets need to be fertilized regularly to keep producing blooms.

But in many cases, even the most well cared for hanging baskets begin to fade fast by early summer. And for these plants, no amount of water or fertilizer is going to help.

It can certainly be frustrating. Especially for gardeners who have worked hard to care for their plants.

Mid-Summer Hanging Basket Failure

When a well-cared for plant suddenly begins to lose its luster in early or mid-summer, the cause is almost always overgrown roots in an undersized container.

Once a plant’s roots have become wound tightly together, it is nearly impossible for them to absorb water or nutrients.

root bound pot
When a plant becomes root bound, it is hard for it to absorb any nutrients or water.

When this happens, water simply runs right through the basket. As do any fertilizers applied to the plant as well. Unfortunately, at this point, no amount of soaking will allow the plant to absorb enough of either to flower, let alone survive for the long term.

This is actually quite common with hanging baskets purchased in early spring from nurseries and greenhouses.

hanging baskets
Greenhouses start their plants early to get them blooming for sale. These plants often need to be replanted by mid-summer to continue thriving.

To get the plants showy and beautiful for customers, these plants are started as far back as December. And by mid-summer, they have simply grown too big for their container.

But whatever you do, don’t throw that plant out! Although it may seem like the end of the line, there are 2 simple methods to get your plants blooming again.

2 Ways To Save Struggling Hanging Baskets


The first and best option to bring your hanging basket back to life is to replant it into a larger vessel.

Unfortunately, most commercial hanging baskets are sold with 10 to 12″ pots as their growing container. To make it through an entire growing season, baskets should be at minimum 14 to 16″ in size.

small flowering plant
Small containers like this 8″pot can quickly run out of room for a plant’s roots.

Select a new basket or container with at least 1/4 more growing space. The more room the better. This gives plenty of space for roots to expand out and bring in nutrients quickly.

Next, fill the bottom of the basket with a high quality potting soil. Before sitting the root ball into the new basket, be sure to loosen the tightly wound roots. Gently break apart the bottom of the roots, taking care to keep them intact to the root ball.

This allows the plant to breath and grow into the new soil. And as it does so, it will be able to soak in the nutrients and water it needs to thrive once again.

large hanging basket
This large 24″ planter has plenty of size for all season growth!

Finish by filling the remainder of the pot with potting soil, and then giving the plant a good watering along with a dose of liquid fertilizer. This boost of nutrients will help the plant to re-flourish quickly. (Product Link : Miracle Grow Organics Plant Food)


So what happens if you are trying to save a hanging basket that is simply too large to find a suitable basket or container?

Once again, don’t throw that plant away! Instead, replant it directly into your landscape for a huge splash of annual color.

Over-sized hanging baskets and container plants can have an incredible second life when directly planted into flowerbeds or garden areas. Simply remove the plant from the container, gently loosen the root ball, and plant.

Replant oversized hanging basket plants right into flowerbeds to give news life and a big splash of instant color.

Just like when replanting, give the plant plenty of water and a dose of liquid fertilizer to jump-start it’s growth. With all of the new space and soil available, you will be amazed at how quickly the plant bounces back to life!

Here is to saving those struggling hanging baskets, and to keeping those blooms coming on all summer long! Happy Gardening, Jim and Mary

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