Rudbeckia plants and pentas can make for pretty pots.

Are your potted summer flowers looking really sad right now?

With a little effort, many of these plants can be pruned to encourage new growth and blooms while we wait for the cooling temperatures of late October and November.

Flowers such as vinca, pentas, rudbeckia (the Black-Eyed Susan family; both pentas and rudbeckia are shown above), summer snaps (Angelonia) and salvias will all respond well if pruned back to new growth. However zinnias and, if you still have them, marigolds will need to be pulled if they’re in poor shape.

Foliage plants such as coleus and sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas; pictured below) will also benefit from pruning. If you have sweet potato vine, and it is wilting during the day regardless of how often you water, the poor plant is just hot! A good cut will help the root system succeed in supplying the water needed to keep the plant happy all day long.

If you pull any plants, you can decide whether the other existing plants will fill in the space, or whether you’ll need to add a few things. A trip to your local nursery will provide you with some possibilities to keep you growing through the rest of our long summer.

Be sure you continue to water your pots deeply. It is even more important at this time of year to feed your flowering plants, as the pots get depleted of their nutrients from the constant watering. Use a water-soluble fertilizer, as we have previously discussed.

20-minute checklist for this week:

  1. Make sure you have fertilizer for your citrus trees.
  2. Fertilize citrus.
  3. Water in deeply.
  4. While you are at it, water any potted succulents and cactus that have not received adequate rain in the last month.

Marylee is the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Email her with comments and questions at