Annuals · Container Gardening · Garden Maintenance

Haircuts for Summer Containers

With pruners in hand, I set out to do a little mid-summer maintenance on my containers.

Prune flowers off basil.

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions and herbs planted in containers on my deck were growing like crazy. They didn’t need haircuts, but  the basil needed their flowers, just beginning to form, pinched. (If plants were allowed to flower, they would stop producing more basil leaves.)

Many plants in this group of large pots needed haircuts. The plants of Salvia ‘Black & Blue’ had grown very large and were currently on a blooming break. I took advantage and reduced their size by a third. It will take them a couple weeks to bloom again, but the plants will be bushier and produce even more blooming stems. (The hummingbirds will have to find nectar in other flowers or visit the feeders in the meantime.) The hydrangeas planted in the pots on either side were full of buds, just about ready to explode into bloom.

Geraniums, which had been overtaken by the Salvia ‘Black & Blue’, needed their spent flower stems removed.

See how much better they looked with the stems of spent flowers removed? Next, I turned my attention to the pot in front.


The Calibrachoa was thriving and needed nothing. (I try to include as many self-cleaning annuals like million bells that, besides watering, rarely require maintenance.)


The pentas and…

Salvia 'Victoria Blue'

Salvia ‘Victoria Blue’ required a lot of deadheading.

Just a few days later, the pentas and salvia were already beginning to bloom again.

This container was quick work. The coleus was cut back by a third to keep it bushy and the sweet potato vine was trimmed so the vines wouldn’t start crawling across the deck. The flowering vinca and million bells (planted on the other side of the container) were performing beautifully.

The dahlia stems holding spent flowers were cut all the way down to where they met another stem and…

…then the exquisite, fresh dahlia blooms were the focus on this thriller.

The only plants needing attention in this trio of pots were the hydrangeas. The once-lovely flowers were browning with age.

Once removed, the grouping looked much fresher. The hydrangeas were full of new growth and will be back in full bloom soon.

In the pot by the front door, the coleus was cut back by two thirds, forcing it to play nicely with a hosta and New Guinea impatiens.

New Guinea Impatiens

In just a few days, the New Guinea impatiens thanked me by blooming.

A coral bell with purple foliage had died in this pot, leaving a hole.

While the purple foliage was beautiful paired with the creamy-edged euphorbia, I took the easy (and cheap) way out and dug a self-seeded hosta from the garden to fill the space.

It may not be a lesson in great container design, but it was better and didn’t cost a penny.

I was happy with the way the plants were growing in the window boxes. Only the coleus and sweet potato vine were demanding just a little too much attention for my liking.

Just a few snips of the pruners on the coleus and the sweet potato vine brought balance back to the design.

It doesn’t take long to maintain containers so they will continue looking nice the rest of the summer. Sometimes a few small, strategic snips is all that’s needed. In other instances, removing spent flowers is required to keep plants looking neat. Some plants, growing too big, need downsizing and a few may need to be replaced.

A little time spent now is well worth it to keep your containers looking great. Garden with me! 

8 thoughts on “Haircuts for Summer Containers

  1. Diana Love Your Beautiful Flowers. And your Flower Boxes too they all look Lovely
    Always enjoy your news letter Thinks For Sharing enjoy your flowers Betty Burnette!!

  2. i grow sweet potato vines so the sneak all over the deck. I also send them up my bower on the gnarly wisteria vines. it is becoming difficult to find ‘marguerite’ variety that will grow yards and yards long.

    1. Hi Willow. They must be fantastic climbing on wisteria vines! I sometimes let them grow to their full potential around our pond where they have more room to roam. If I let them grow too big on the deck, there would be no room for my grandsons to play – LOL!

  3. Hi Miss Diana,

    Do you overwinter the containers with hydrangea and hosta? I never thought of using a hosta in a container. As usual, your plantings are lovely.


    1. Hi Adreanna! Last year, I planted all the Japanese maples, shrubs and perennials used in my containers in the garden in October. Only one Japanese maple didn’t make it thru the winter. I try to convince my husband how much money I am SAVING him by using them first in pots and then moving them to their forever homes in the landscape. I am sure hydrangeas and hostas could be overwintered right in their pots if they were moved to an unheated garage. They are both so awesome in containers! Great to hear from you, Adreanna. I hope all is well.

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