Hibiscus plants are tropical beauties that will bring an exotic look to your garden. They are durable plants that can grow to be up to 15 feet in height, and the colorful blooms will attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden. Since hibiscus plants are tropical, they need a certain amount of care to ensure that they thrive in other environments just like caring for the rose.
Growing hibiscus is an easy way to add a tropical flair to your garden. When you know how to care for hibiscus plants, you will be rewarded with many years of lovely flowers. Let’s look at some tips on how to care for hibiscus.
Hibiscus plants may require more care than other plants, but they are well worth it. So read on and you’ll learn how to care for your hibiscus plants.
Also, Read How to Care for Lucky Bamboo Plant
Table of Contents
- Growing and Caring for Hibiscus in Containers
- Type of Soil
- Temperatures for Growing Hibiscus
- Watering Hibiscus
- Optimal Lighting
- Fertilizing Hibiscus
- Pruning Hibiscus
- Pests and diseases
- General Care For Your Hibiscus Plant
- How to Care for Hibiscus Plants Outdoors
- How to Care for Hibiscus Indoors
- Additional Tips for Caring for Hibiscus
Growing and Caring for Hibiscus in Containers
Many people who are growing a hibiscus plant choose to do so in a container. This allows them to move the hibiscus plant to ideal locations, depending on the time of year. Provide the plants with at least six hours of sunlight, especially if you want to see those lovely blooms. Although warm, humid conditions are ideal for tropical hibiscus, you may want to provide a little afternoon shade when it’s overly hot. Again, containers make this easy to do.
Hibiscus plants prefer a cozy fit when growing in a container. This means that they should be slightly root bound in the pot and when you do decide to repot, give the hibiscus only a little bit more room. Always make sure that your growing hibiscus plant has excellent drainage.
Stone pots tend to encourage hibiscus growth, which is preferred for hibiscus plants rather than using a clay pot that can make the soil alkaline over time.
Type of Soil
Hibiscus likes to be planted in soil that is slightly acidic. If the soil in your garden is not acidic, you can attempt to increase the level by adding peat moss to your garden. When you plant the hibiscus, place them in the soil about two or three feet from each other; these plants may seem small now, but they will grow to be pretty large with time. In addition, do not plant these plants before the frost threat is over for the year to ensure that they survive the cold temperatures.
Temperatures for Growing Hibiscus
When you care for a hibiscus, you should remember that hibiscus flower best in temperatures between 60-90 F. (16-32 C.)and cannot tolerate temps below 32 F. (0 C.). In the summer, your hibiscus plant can go outside, but once the weather starts to get near freezing, it’s time for you to bring your hibiscus indoors. A hibiscus plant will flourish the most in temperatures that remain between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the temperatures start coming close to the 32 degrees Fahrenheit mark, the plants must remain indoors so that the cold weather does not cause damage to the plant. If the temperature where you live tends to drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit over the winter, then you will need to take precautions to ensure that the hibiscus plant is safe. First, you need to bring the plant indoors to a location that stays above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It will also need a steady supply of sunlight and fresh water, though the plant will require less during the winter.
Hibiscus need moist soil to grow, but it also needs to be drained well. This is so that the roots are not sitting in a large amount of water, which can cause the roots to rot. If the plant is under-watered, then it is possible that the blooming process would stop, since this is a method to protect the roots of the plant. The best way to ensure that the plant will be getting adequate water is to use an irrigation system that will drain out any excess water.
When hibiscus plants are in blooming stage, they require large amounts of water. Your hibiscus will need daily watering in warm weather. But once the weather cools, your hibiscus needs far less water, and too much water can kill it. In the winter, water your hibiscus only when the soil is dry to the touch.
The best location for a hibiscus plant is a location that is going to get direct sunlight for five to six hours a day. They will grow in partial sunlight, but at the expense of the blooms being produced. For optimal growth, the plant needs to have full sun as much as possible.
When you fertilize your hibiscus plant, it is a good idea to utilize liquid fertilizer to ensure that it can be dispersed through the soil evenly. You will want a fertilizer that is high in potassium because it’s great for the growth of hibiscus plants, but you also want to avoid phosphorus because it is a mineral that can kill the hibiscus plant, especially if the mineral is accumulating in the soil.
A growing hibiscus plant needs lots of nutrients in order to bloom well. In the summer, use a high potassium fertilizer. You can either use a diluted liquid fertilizer one a week, a slow release fertilizer once a month or you can add a high potassium compost to the soil. In the winter, you don’t need to fertilize at all. A great way to encourage growth in the plant is to add compost bark or worm castings to the soil once a year or more.
Hibiscus plants do not need to be pruned, but with that being said, the plant will love the additional attention. If you are going to prune a hibiscus plant to rejuvenate its look, it should be done in early spring. This will stimulate the budding process and help the plant thrive throughout the summer months. Heavy pruning is best done in early spring, and should not be done in late fall or during winter. Light maintenance pruning may be done at any time of the year to remove diseased or dead wood, rubbing branches, and weak or droopy growth.
Hibiscus blooms are produced on new growth, so blooming is delayed and reduced is the plants are pruned heavily during the active growing season. If you happen to prune your hibiscus plants late in the season, do not trim the branches too far back because it can hinder the blooming process.
Propagating a hibiscus plant begins with a hibiscus softwood cutting. This is a branch of an existing plant that has not yet matured. The limb will still be a bit soft, so be careful when trimming it. The cuttings should be four to six inches in length, and it should still have leaves on the end of it. Place the cutting into some well-draining soil to encourage it to take root. Cover the cutting to create a greenhouse effect for the young plant and keep the soil moist until the plant takes root. Using this method, a duplicate plant will form.
Propagating with a seed is also a possibility, though the conditions need to be just right for it to work in most situations. Use the tip of a pen to create a small hole to place the seeds in, then you can cover the holes and water the soil where the seeds have been planted. Seedlings should peek through the soil in about two to four weeks.
Pests and diseases
Several types of chewing and sucking pests that feed on leaves, buds, or flowers can cause issues at one time or another. Generally, pests can be controlled with applications of contact systemic pesticides. Routine inspections instead of routine spray schedules may reduce the quantity of pesticides required. Pesticides can be destructive to your plant, as Hibiscus is quite sensitive to them.
Premature flower bud drop is often a problem with hibiscus. Some varieties, especially some doubles, are characterized by premature bud drop and bloom well during one period of the year and consistently drop their buds are other times.
General Care For Your Hibiscus Plant
Mulch around the plant to retain moisture and to provide protection for the roots.
Water plants deeply and thoroughly. Water hibiscus one to two times a week the first year after planting. Water it with about 1 inch of water so it seeps deep into the plant’s root zone. In subsequent years, water about once a week during hot, dry spells.
To encourage re-bloom, remove old flowers before they form seed heads or prune plants back by one third after a flush of bloom is finished. Remove up to one-third of the bush’s old, unproductive, misshapen and wayward branches. Then, as the plant produces new growth in the spring and summer, periodically clip off the growth tips about 1/4 inch above a bud to encourage branching and more productive flowering.
In early spring, remove dead stems from established plants and apply a balanced fertilizer.
Hibiscus plants may require more care than other plants, but they are well worth it. So read on and you’ll learn how to care for your hibiscus plants.
Plant your hibiscus plants in any season except winter. Place them 3 to 6 feet (91.5 to 183 centimeters) apart, to give them room to spread out. Dig a hole and place the hibiscus roots in the hole. Water the plant thoroughly. Hibiscus can also grow indoors in flower pots.
Water the plant when the soil feels dry. Don’t over water the hibiscus plant, as you may flood the roots. The hibiscus roots should be moist, not wet.
Fertilize the hibiscus every two to three weeks with a low-nitrogen fertilizer. Steady feeding will keep your hibiscus healthy. You can use a liquid or granular fertilizer, applying no more than the rate listed on the label. Avoid touching the stem or leaves with fertilizer, and water well after applying a granular fertilizer.
Prune the hibiscus plant to maintain its shape. Cut the branch back just above its “eye” or side shoot to encourage multiple growths. Pinching off the tips of branches will also encourage multiple growths.
Protect your hibiscus from cold weather. Hibiscus plants are very sensitive to the cold. If they’re inside, keep them in a warm place. If they’re outdoor plants, and the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), make sure to cover them well to insulate them from the cold. Leaving them uncovered may cause a delay in the spring blossoming.
Manage aphids, scales and other pests by pruning infected branches and treating the plant with an appropriate insecticidal soap or oil. You can also remove many pests by spraying them off with a strong spray from a hose. Protect your hibiscus from insects and bugs, using insecticide when necessary
How to Care for Hibiscus Plants Outdoors
- In spring, give them a good feed with preferably a high potash granular feed, such as rose food.
- Mulching the soil will help to maintain soil moisture levels and keep down weed growth.
- Hibiscus needs a warm position in full sun, preferably sheltered from strong and cold winds.
- It prefers a well-drained soil that remains moist during summer.
- Hibiscus are perfect for growing in large containers of John Innes No 3 compost in a warm and sunny position.
- Outdoor hibiscus doesn’t need regular or routine pruning. In February/March, prune out any dying, diseased or damaged stems, plus any excessively congested or crossing stems and any that are growing in the wrong or unwanted direction.
How to Care for Hibiscus Indoors
- Water regularly when plants are in growth (April to September), but more sparingly when dormant (autumn and winter). Allow the top of the compost to slightly dry out before watering again.
- Feed with a high potash liquid feed every 10-14 days during the growing season, from spring to early autumn, especially when in flower.
- Indoor hibiscus needs a position in good, bright light but protected from direct, strong sunlight in summer. Hibiscus Plants prefer a humid atmosphere and need a minimum temperature of 7-10C (45-50F).
- They are not too fussy about compost, any good potting compost that drains freely is suitable, although one with John Innes would be preferable. They will need re-potting every couple of years – preferably in March or April.
- Plants can be moved outdoors in summer to a position protected from direct sunlight but must be brought back indoors in autumn before temperatures reach 10C (50F).
Also, Read How to Care for Air Plants Indoors
Additional Tips for Caring for Hibiscus
- Rainwater is most beneficial. The soil should be kept consistently moist. Drip-irrigating systems are ideal for growing Hibiscus.
- Steady warmth of 75 degrees will keep the plant flourishing. If the temperature falls down to 45 degrees, the plant will suffer damage and may not be able to recover.
- Plenty of sunshine of at least 6 hours per day will keep the Hibiscus blooming continuously. If the plant is kept indoors during the winter, it should be placed near a South-facing window.
- Moderate pruning should be done to keep the plant tall. For bushier results, prune the branches back immediately before the dormant period.
- The Hibiscus is susceptible to whiteflies, aphids and mites. Using a mixture of dish soap and water once per month will alleviate infestations.
- Hibiscus does not like clay. Although attractive, the clay pots dispense minute particles into the soil making it too alkaline over time. Using containers made of stone will bring much better results as the stone does not overheat and retains the rainwater allowing the soil to absorb it slowly.
- Hibiscus will grow in any other type of soil as long as it is well-drained. Chemical-based fertilizers should be avoided.
- Place four holes on the bottom of the pot for ventilation without excessive evaporation.
- Fertilizing the Hibiscus with liquid fertilizers leads to the even dispersion of the solution preventing it from accumulation on the top layer only.
- To keep Hibiscus healthy and encourage growth, add composted bark or worm castings to the soil once a year. Commercial fertilizers often contain minced sewage debris from unknown origins and may harm the Hibiscus.
- Never pull the trunk of the plant out of the pot. Gently remove it by dislodging the soil from the sides of the container and take it out by its roots.
- When using commercial fertilizers, choose the products with high contents of potassium and minimal contents of phosphorus (preferably none). Although very effective for other plants, the phosphorus will kill the Hibiscus.
- When winterizing the plant, place it by any heat source except forced-air outlets. If combined with artificial light, the Hibiscus may be tricked into keeping its foliage even during the dormant period. The blooms will begin to appear again once the plant is transferred back outdoors.
- Before the initial planting in the ground, soak the soil thoroughly for 24 hours until the area of 3 feet in diameter is evenly moist without being soggy. Plant the bulbs 3 inches underground and top the hole with a mound of soil 2 inches high above the ground level.
- Place orange wedges around the bottom of the plant to deter soil-digging pests such as raccoons, squirrels or moles. The additional acid from the orange will also accelerate the blooming.