Hibiscus: The Complete Care and Growing Guide

Hibiscus is a genus of spectacular shrubs and small trees with spectacularly showy trumpet-shaped blossoms. Hibiscus petals come in a variety of colors, including pink, white, red, orange, yellow, purple, and peach. The addition of tropical flowers to your garden landscape with hibiscus shrubs or trees in the front or backyard.

Tropical hibiscus and hardy hibiscus are the two major groups of the hibiscus plant genus. The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cultivars are examples of tropical hibiscus plants. Hibiscus moscheutos and Hibiscus syriacus, or rose of Sharon, are suitable hibiscus plants for colder climes.

How to Care for Hibiscus

Hibiscus should be cared for in full sun or partial shade, either by growing the shrubby plants. During the flowering season, water the hibiscus frequently. Fertilize the plant on a regular basis to encourage flowering since Hibiscus plants are heavy feeders. Tropical and hardy hibiscus need less water and fertilization during the winter.

Hibiscus Flowers

Hibiscus flowers are available in a wide range of hues and may be solitary or double blooms. Hibiscus flowers may grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) broad and are shaped like trumpets. A star or saucer shape is formed by the delicate papery-crepe petals. The stamen of most flowers protrudes from the middle.

Hibiscus blossoms come in a variety of colors, ranging from white to pink to crimson and may be rather huge. The hibiscus shrub’s look may be improved by snipping off fading flowers. By removing dead hibiscus blooms, you can halt reseeding and concentrate development on the lush foliage and blooms. For tropical and hardy hibiscus species, the same care advice applies for deadheading.

Hardy Hibiscus Vs. Tropical Hibiscus

In temperate regions, Hardy hibiscus plants are more difficult to maintain than tropical varieties. In USDA climates below 9, tropical hibiscus plants will not survive. Hardy hibiscus, on the other hand, can withstand cold temperatures in USDA zones 5 through 8 with some protection.

Winterers when the temperature drops below zero may be kept alive by a hardy hibiscus plant. In late fall and early winter, most shrubs lose their blooms. The plant will die back to the ground in the winter and reappear in the spring in colder climes. In this situation, when the weather revives again in the spring, cut back the stems to a few inches high. You’ll notice new growth emerge.

Pink, white, red, orange, yellow, or peach are some of the colors available for tropical hibiscus flowers. They may be solitary or double blooms. Even so, hardy hibiscus blooms are solitary blooms with white, pink, or red colors that may be up to 12 inches (30 cm) broad.

The leaves of hardy hibiscus and tropical hibiscus plants are yet another difference. Hardy hibiscus leaves are duller green and are generally heart-shaped, while tropical hibiscus plants have deeper glossier green leaves. Tropical hibiscus leaves (left) vs. Hardy hibiscus leaves (right)

Hibiscus Care

If you’re in the right zone, Hibiscus shrubs are generally easy to care for. If you water them enough and give them enough fertilizer, the bushy shrubs will bloom with vividly colored flowers. You’ll get flowers all summer long if you care for hibiscus properly: from mid-summer to late-fall. Between hardy and tropical hibiscus, there are some differences in care. Nevertheless, when cultivating these lovely landscaping plants, there are a number of comparable care requirements.

Temperature for Growing Hibiscus 

Hardy hibiscus plants USDA zones 5 through 8 are home to plants like Hibiscus moscheutos and the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus). These perennial plants can withstand temperatures as low as -20°F (-29°C) in the winter. In freezing temperatures, the hibiscus plant will die, but in spring it will sprout anew.

During the winter, Hardy hibiscus bushes need to be protected from severe frost. Cover the root ball with plenty of mulch after cutting the dead stems. The roots will be protected while they’re regrowing in the springtime as a result of this. Covering the hibiscus canopy during the winter to protect it from the cold weather is not necessary.

Evergreen tropical hibiscus Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, a kind of Chinese hibiscus, is one example of an plant that doesn’t grow outdoors in USDA zones below 9. The plant may begin to lose its leaves when average temperatures fall between 40°F and 50°F (4°C and 10°C).

The tropical shrub will begin to die when outdoor temperatures drop below 20°F (-6°C). You may cultivate tropical hibiscus plants in pots outdoors if you live in a temperate region. You should bring the potted plant indoors when the average temperatures fall below 55°F (12°C).

Hibiscus Plant Sun Requirements

Hibiscus prefers bright sunlight and may tolerate some shade. Hibiscus thrives in a sunny spot in your garden that gets some protection from the harsh midday sun. The plant requires at least six hours of sunlight each day to thrive, and Hibiscus flowers are best when they get it.

Make sure your hibiscus shrub won’t be in too much shade when you’re deciding where to put it. The plant’s development is slowed by shady growing conditions. Hibiscus plants don’t bloom as much when they don’t receive enough sunlight, which you may see.

Protection from extremes in sunlight is required for both tropical and hardy hibiscus plants. The hibiscus leaves turn yellow when they are exposed to too much direct sunlight or are in constant shade. White spots on the leaves are another sign of disease.

You can see that the hibiscus buds appear fewer when there is too much sun or not enough light. The best place to grow hibiscus is in a partially shaded location if you live in hot, tropical climates. In this manner, your lovely blossoming tree will be protected from excessive heat during the summer.

The Best Hibiscus Soil 

Soil that is moist but not soggy or waterlogged is ideal for Hibiscus. All hibiscus types need excellent drainage in the soil, including tropical, hardy, and potted plants. Ensure that the soil or potting medium is porous enough to let excess water escape by providing plenty of organic matter.

Make sure the soil is slightly acidic when growing hibiscus in your yard. The pH range between 6.5 and 6.8 is ideal for Hibiscus plants. You may raise acidity in the soil by adding compost if necessary. Moisture is also retained in organic materials like peat moss, which is important when nurturing hibiscus.

A standard houseplant potting soil supplemented with perlite is the optimum soil for cultivating hibiscus in containers. Perlite is added to ensure that water flows freely through the growing medium. To boost acidity and supplies essential nutrients, you may also amend the soil with peat moss.

How to Water Hibiscus

Watering a hibiscus plant well when it’s in bloom is the key to getting a lot of flowers. In the summer and fall, water hibiscus plants are in full bloom. To avoid soggy soil around the roots, water less frequently when the weather isn’t quite as hot. It’s usually a good idea to watering the soil after it has been sufficiently dry over winter.

You’ll have to increase the watering frequency for tropical hibiscus plants if the weather is hot. This may imply watering the blossoming plant two times every day. You may be watering too much if the leaves start to yellow and fall.

Follow the conventional houseplant watering guidelines when watering a tropical hibiscus indoors. The hibiscus should be grown in full, indirect sunlight and watered only when the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil is dry. Next, until the potting soil is completely wet, pour water out of the pot’s drainage hole.

How to Grow Hibiscus in Pots

Container gardening with tropical hibiscus plants and tiny trees is a success. The pot should be in a bright location, similar to hibiscus grown in the ground. Water the potted hibiscus frequently in the summer and less so in the winter using a well-draining, organically rich potting medium.

Avoid keeping the potting mix moist. Hibiscus can suffer from bud drop, yellowing leaves, and pest infestation if it is exposed to dry air caused by heating while indoors growing tropical hibiscus. Throughout the winter months, it is preferable to keep the hibiscus plant hydrated by using a humidifier or humidity pebble tray.

Add some ornamental pebbles in a shallow dish to create humidity levels with a pebble tray. Fill halfway up the stones with water. Make sure the hibiscus pot isn’t sitting in the water before placing it on the pebbles. The leaves are kept moist by evaporation. When required, top the tray with water.

Transplanting Hibiscus Plants

If a hibiscus grows out of control in your garden, it may need to be transplanting. When transplanting the sensitive bushy hibiscus plant, it’s critical to take care of it to avoid stress. It’s vital to dig the new hole and trim the hibiscus shrub before planting a new one.

Dig a big enough hole in the new location to plant a hibiscus. Getting the area prepared will help reduce transplant shock, so you may need to adjust the hole’s size. The roots should be able to fit through the new hole, which should be 2 times as big.

Pruning the hibiscus is the second move before digging it up from the earth. It would be helpful if you cut the hibiscus shrub down by a third in size. By transplanting a smaller hibiscus, the shrub will be less stressed and will have a better chance of thriving in its new environment. After the shrub has finished blooming in the fall, is the optimum time to transplant a hibiscus.

Dig a 1-foot (30-centimeter) circle around the hibiscus shrub for every inch (2.5 centimeter) of stem diameter to transplant it successfully. Dig up the plant and pull it out of the soil. Move the hibiscus plant to its new site gently.

Make sure that the soil line on the trunk matches up to the soil level when you’re planting hibiscus in the hole. Fill in the rest of the area with soil, compact it down firmly, and secure the plant. Water the ground well after Hibiscus has been planted, and keep it hydrated for at least four to six weeks. You’ll need to water the shrub every two or three days if there hasn’t been any rain. After six weeks, cover the hibiscus root zone with a layer of mulch to retain moisture and keep the roots from freezing.

How to Prune Hibiscus

Pruning hibiscus plants and shrubs encourages new buds and produces a lot of blooms. In the spring, prune hibiscus just before it starts to grow vigorously. Snip hibiscus branches back around a third of the way and clip them off at the node. To enhance the shrub’s look, you may also trim away any dead or sick branches.

You may prune hibiscus plants throughout the summer or early autumn, with the exception of early spring. Pruning, on the other hand, inhibits flower growth and encourages fewer flowers. Late autumn and winter are the worst times to trim hibiscus plants. Hibiscus may be difficult to prune during the winter because they don’t react well.

Remember that in late autumn, hardy hibiscus plants may die. To prepare the plant for winter, you can trim back the branches to around 4″ (10 cm) in length. As warmer days arrive in the spring, the hibiscus should begin to bloom. Hardy hibiscus plants are typically not in full bloom until the end of May or beginning of June.

Fertilizing Hibiscus

Fertilization is necessary for tropical hibiscus to thrive. Balanced plant fertilizers for flowering plants are the best types of fertilizer for hibiscus in your garden. Water-soluble or slow-release fertilizers are available. If you’re using a water-soluble fertilizer, fertilize every two weeks, and four times a year with a slow-release one.

Choose a water-soluble fertilizer with a balanced NPK rating when selecting the finest fertilizer for blooming tropical hibiscus. 20-20-20 and 10-10-10 are two good examples. The nutrients required for healthy development and abundant blooming are delivered to the shrub using this kind of fertilizer.

Apply the granules in early spring, after the first flowers appear in the summer, and early winter for tropical hibiscus shrubs using a slow-release fertilizer. Hibiscus plants that are Hardy varieties typically require little fertilizer to thrive. If you want to boost the plant’s growth, apply a diluted general-purpose fertilizer two or three times during the growing season.

Top care tip when fertilizing hibiscus shrubs: Always apply fertilizer to the entire root zone, which is approximately the canopy’s spread size.

Hibiscus Propagation

Hardy and tropical hibiscus can be grown from cuttings with little difficulty. The tropical varieties, on the other hand, are more difficult to cultivate than hardy hibiscus. Cut a 6″ (15 cm) thick section from a healthy hibiscus shrub for your softwood cutting. Except for the top leaves, strip the leaves off. Put the cutting in a rooting medium that’s appropriate.

In a small pot, combine equal portions of potting soil and perlite to make a rooting mixture for hibiscus plants. Dig a hole in the ground and deposit the hibiscus cutting. Firm the earth around the site of the blade, and spray it with water.

Place a plastic bag over the cutting and tie with an elastic band to help the hibiscus cutting take root. To keep the rooting soil moist, set the pot in partial shade and spray it with water every now and then. It might take up to eight weeks to establish a roots.

The new hibiscus plant can then be moved to a larger pot. Root tropical hibiscus plants using the same technique. Nevertheless, to improve your odds of becoming established, you should sow several stem cuttings in the rooting medium.

Hibiscus seeds may be used to propagate the plant. Make a tiny incision in the seed of hibiscus with a sharp knife, then place it in water. Lay in a tub of water all night. Place the seeds in a thin coating of soil and then place them in an appropriate soil mix. Seeds should take four weeks to sprout, depending on the variety. It’s worth noting that even under the best circumstances, some hibiscus species don’t create seeds.

FAQ About Hibiscus Care

Hibiscus is typically simple to maintain, but it may be bothered by a few problems. Changes in the environment are susceptible to Hibiscus, especially tropical Hibiscus plants. When growing hibiscus, there are a few problems that may occur.

Why Are Hibiscus Flower Buds Dropping?

Hibiscus buds and blossoms may fall for a variety of reasons. Buds or blooms may drop due to a pest problem, nutritional deficits, lack of water, temperature changes, and overfertilizing. Grow Hibiscus trees and shrubs in plenty of sunlight, keep the soil damp, and make sure there is adequate humidity to prevent flowers from falling.

What to Do About Bugs on Hibiscus Plants

Aphids, thrips, whiteflies, scale, and mealybugs are common garden pests that can affect hibiscus. Hose the hibiscus leaves with a strong stream of water to get rid of insects from your hibiscus plants. You could also spray the leaves with a natural neem oil pesticide to keep insects from eating them.

Hibiscus leaves and stems are consumed by aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs. Look for little pests crawling under the leaves of aphids on hibiscus to identify whiteflies. A white fuzzy substance, like cotton wool, will be left behind by mealybugs. Introducing beneficial insects to your garden is another form of pest control. Garden pests and their larvae are eaten by ladybugs, lacewings, or hoverflies.

How to Get Rid of Fungus on Hibiscus Plants

Powdery mildew is a white powdery substance that looks like fungus on hibiscus. Remove diseased leaves and branches from the trees, then dispose of them. To avoid fungal foliage issues, you should water the ground rather than the leaves. You may have to relocate your hibiscus if other plants are crowding it out, allowing sufficient air to flow around it.

This should help to prevent the foliage from becoming too wet. The white fungus on hibiscus makes the plant look unappealing, and fungus leaf problems seldom kill plants. The fungus might impede the plant’s development if it spreads.

Why Are Hibiscus Leaves Turning Yellow?

Waterlogging, pests, nutrient deficiency, excessive sun exposure, or hot temperatures all cause Hibiscus leaves to turn yellow. It’s crucial to discover which yellow hibiscus leaf issue is causing the problem. Just enough water is needed to keep the soil moist for water hibiscus plants. The hibiscus is kept healthy and yellow leaves are prevented by this watering method. Water is used more often in hot weather than in cold.

You may have to move the shrub to keep it flowering and the leaves healthy green if drainage or sunlight are concerns. Spider mites on houseplants and garden plants should be checked as well. To get rid of these plant-sucking mites, use a neem oil solution. Use a diluted balanced fertilizer every two weeks to improve the leaves’ appearance and encourage healthy hibiscus growth if you suspect a nutrient deficiency.

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