Hibiscus is a beautiful flower that is often used as an ornamental plant. It’s easy to care for, with its large, vibrant blooms adding a touch of color to any garden or landscape.
But how do you ensure that you have a healthy plant?
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know for tropical hibiscus care, from hibiscus propagation to how to care for hibiscus whether you’re growing hibiscus indoors or outside.
Hibiscus Plant Facts
|Common names||Rose mallow, dinner plate hibiscus, clown hibiscus, rose of Sharon, althea, China Rose|
|Plant Type||Herb, shrub, tree|
|Height and Width||8-16 ft tall, 5-10 ft wide outdoors|
|Origin||Mauritius, Madagascar, Hawaii, China, India, Fiji|
|Flower colors||Red, Yellow, Orange, Pink, Multicolor, Purple, White|
|Foliage color||Dark green|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type & pH||Well-drained soil, slightly acidic soil|
|Special features||Beautiful flowers, good pollinator plant, attractive plant indoors or outside|
How to Grow Hibiscus Plants
Most hibiscus flowers can be planted in either pots or beds. When you plant hibiscus, think carefully about the hibiscus types you’re growing (hardy hibiscus can grow well outside in many places, but truly tropical hibiscus will perform best in a pot in most of the US).
When planting in a pot, make sure the pot is large enough so that the root system can spread out easily – generally, 6-8 inches wide is a good size for most hibiscus plants. Be sure to fill the pot with well-draining soil as hibiscus do not like wet feet! If planting in a garden bed, be sure to choose an area with plenty of sunlight — six hours per day or more.
When planting directly into the ground, dig a hole twice as big as your plant’s roots and mix compost or aged manure into the soil before planting.
There are two main methods for propagating hibiscus plants to get even more of these exotic flowers — through stem cuttings or by air layering.
For stem cuttings, take approximately 4-6 inch cuttings from your existing plant and remove all leaves from the bottom half of each cutting. Place each cutting into moist soil until new growth appears (this usually takes 1-2 weeks).
To propagate through air layering, select an upright stem on your existing plant and score it lightly with a knife before wrapping it tightly with moist sphagnum moss.
After several weeks new roots should form on the moss at which point you can carefully cut below them and repot your new plant!
The ideal soil for hibiscus is rich in organic matter such as compost or aged manure; however regular potting soil will work just fine too!
Make sure that whatever type of soil you choose drains well so that your roots don’t become waterlogged and instead keep the soil evenly moist.
Pruning is important for keeping your hibiscus healthy and full of flowers! In general, prune younger plants lightly throughout their growing season while more mature plants should be pruned more heavily during winter months (i.e., removing old flower heads).
Repotting and Transplanting
Mature hibiscus plants may require repotting every few years due to root overcrowding.
If this becomes necessary, make sure that you select a pot roughly one size larger than its current container with drainage holes at its base before gently transferring your plant into its new home.
How to Care for Hibiscus Tree
Let’s look at these important hibiscus plant care tips. Keep this in mind when selecting hibiscus companion plants with similar growing conditions.
Your hibiscus flower will need water 1-2 times a week during the growing season (spring through fall).
During colder months when the plant is dormant, you can reduce the frequency of watering to once every two weeks or so. Make sure that when you water your hibiscus, you give it enough water to thoroughly moisten its soil; be sure not to overwater as this can cause root rot.
Most hibiscus varieties need plenty of direct sunlight in order to thrive! Ideally, place it in a spot where it will get about 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day.
If possible, move the pot outdoors during warmer months for maximum sun exposure. Position away from drafts and air conditioning vents as these can dry out the plant too quickly.
Temperature and Humidity
Hibiscus plants thrive in temperatures between 65°F and 85°F (18°C – 29°C). If the temperature drops below 60°F (15°C), then you might start seeing some signs of stress on your plant such as wilting or browning of leaves.
Hibiscus plants prefer high humidity levels—ideally around 70%. This means that they do well in hot climates where there is plenty of moisture in the air.
When selecting a fertilizer for your hibiscus plants, look for one with an N-K ratio of 1:1 or 2:1. You should also look for a slow-release or low-burn formula; this will prevent any potential overwatering issues from occurring.
Typically, it’s best to feed your garden hibiscus once every two weeks during its active growth period—which typically occurs between spring and fall in North America—and once every month during its dormant period in winter months.
Pest and diseases
An important aspect of hibiscus care is dealing with pests. The most common pests of hibiscus plants include aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, spider mites, thrips, scales, leafhoppers, caterpillars, borers, and Japanese beetles. All of these pests feed on the sap from the plant’s leaves and stems, which can cause damage in the form of yellowing leaves or wilting growth.
The most common diseases affecting tropical hibiscus plants include powdery mildew and verticillium wilt. Powdery mildew appears as a white powdery substance on the leaves or stems of the plant, while verticillium wilt causes yellowing leaves or wilting growth (similar symptoms as pest damage).
Growing and caring for hibiscus isn’t difficult — all you need is some patience and some basic knowledge on how to properly care for these colorful blooms. Don’t forget to learn more about the meaning of a hibiscus flower to know why gardeners love growing this plant.
Why are my hibiscus leaves turning yellow?
Yellow leaves on a hibiscus tree can be caused by a number of factors, including over-watering or under-watering, nutrient deficiencies, insect infestation, or even cold temperatures.
How to prune a braided hibiscus tree?
When pruning a braided hibiscus tree, it’s important to remember that you should never cut into the trunk itself. Focus on trimming off any dead or unhealthy branches and removing any suckers from the base of the trunk.
How big does a hibiscus tree get?
Hibiscus trees can range in size from small shrubs up to large trees depending on their species and variety. Some varieties can grow up to 20 feet tall while others stay much smaller at around 3-4 feet tall in height.
How much sun does a hibiscus need?
Hibiscus grows best in areas with full sun exposure (6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day).
How tall do hibiscus trees grow?
The height of a hibiscus tree will depend on the variety of hibiscus and how it is pruned. Most varieties reach between 6-12 feet tall, but some can reach up to 20 feet tall.
How long does a hibiscus bloom last?
The blooms on a hibiscus typically last around seven days before they start to wilt and fall off the plant.
When does hibiscus bloom?
Most varieties of hibiscus bloom in late spring through early fall, but some may also bloom in winter if given enough light and warmth.
How do you stop hardy hibiscus from growing so tall?
If you want to encourage your hardy hibiscus plant to stay at a manageable size, then pruning can help. Pruning helps control the size and shape of your plant by removing dead or excess growth.
How to winter over hibiscus?
Cut back any dead or fading foliage before the first frost. Then move your pot indoors where temperatures are above freezing but below 60°F (15°C).
Why is my hibiscus dying?
One of the most common causes is improper watering habits. It is important to remember that too much water can lead to root rot and cause your plant to die off quickly.
What is the lowest temperature a hibiscus can tolerate?
Hibiscuses can tolerate temperatures as low as 40°F (4°C) but they prefer temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C).
How often to water hibiscus in pots?
Generally speaking, hibiscuses need about 1 inch (2-3 cm) of water per week when grown in pots or containers outdoors.