Treatment of Hibiscus
If you’re growing hibiscus indoors or out, your care needs will be different than if you’re tending to a hardy or tropical variety.
Most species of hibiscus are easy to grow and won’t get out of hand. However, in much of eastern North America, rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is considered an invasive species.
- The hibiscus has a long pistil and large orange flowers at the end of a leafy stem.
- Large, orange flowers grow atop sturdy stems on this hibiscus plant.
- Long, trailing branches of a hibiscus plant bearing tiny pink flowers
- The light-colored Hibiscus flower thrives in the sun. Full sun is preferable in northern climates, but in the dry heat of the south, indirect sunlight is preferable. If your plant isn’t flowering, try relocating it to a brighter spot.
Hibiscus plants grown indoors should be placed near a sunny window but shielded from direct sunlight. It is important to gradually acclimate your plants to the brighter conditions outside before moving them outdoors when the weather permits.
Hibiscus plants thrive in soil that is rich, loamy, and moist. These drought-resistant selections were originally cultivated in wetter climates, making them ideal for areas where other plants would perish from too much moisture.
While most hibiscus species require slightly acidic soil, the rose of Sharon can thrive in more alkaline environments. Soil acidity can change the hue of hibiscus blossoms.
When moisture is scarce, mulching the area around a plant’s roots can help. Soil that is lacking in nutrients can be improved by adding organic matter.
Hibiscus flowers, like all plants, require consistent moisture to flourish. From spring to early fall, when indoor tropical hibiscus are actively growing, they require consistent watering. During dormant periods, watering should be drastically reduced. If you’re growing plants in containers, wait until the top inch or so of the potting mix is completely dry before watering (saturated soil is just as bad), and make sure the pots have drainage holes.
If you want your hibiscus to bloom profusely, you may need to water it every day.
Water your hardy hibiscus regularly to keep them moist if you haven’t planted them near a pond or other wet area.
Conditions of Heat and Dampness
Plants like the Rose of Sharon and the hardy hibiscus thrive in mild winters and springs. They do best between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but can survive down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit if necessary. Plants in containers need to be brought inside when the temperature drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent frost damage. A bathroom is an ideal environment for these plants because of the high humidity it typically provides.
Tropical varieties are sensitive to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and should be kept in a humid environment indoors if you live in a region where this is likely to occur.
Feeding plants with a high potassium and high nitrogen fertiliser will result in lush, vibrant growth and an abundance of beautiful blooms. Emulsions of fish waste and seaweed extract are two examples of organic fertilisers. Start feeding a dilute solution a few weeks before blooming begins and do so at least once a week until blooming is complete.
Close-up of a tropical hibiscus flower, with instructions for growing them indoors.
Varieties of Hibiscus
Multiple hundred hybrids and cultivars of hibiscus, both tropical and cold-hardy, are readily available to gardeners. Among the most well-liked types are:
Hibiscus coccineus, commonly known as the swamp hibiscus, is an unusually hardy species with large pinwheel-shaped flowers.
Hibiscus mutabilis, or the Confederate Rose, The large, showy blooms of this long-lived rose mallow open white and gradually take on other tones.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Cajun Cocktail’ is a tropical cultivar that stands out thanks to its bright orange and yellow ruffled flowers.
A late-blooming, compact, and hardy hybrid cultivar of Hibiscus moscheutos.
Once established, hardy hibiscus plants benefit from annual pruning in the winter. After flowering is over, prune the plant to remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches as well as any old wood that has grown into the centre of the plant. This will help the plant breathe and look neat. There is no need to worry if you prune harshly because this species can recover.
How to Root and Grow Hibiscus
Hibiscuses are typically bred from cuttings. Choose a 4- to 6-inch segment of stem from healthy new growth. The leaves closest to the stem should be kept, while the rest should be discarded. Prior to replanting in a well-drained, moist potting soil, you may want to dip the cut end in rooting hormone. The root system may take a few months to mature.
Planting a Seed for a Hibiscus Flower
Propagating hibiscus from cuttings is easier than growing it from seed. Seeds require a lot of care and tending for quite some time before they sprout.
The germination process can be sped up by nicking the hard seed coating slightly and soaking the seeds for up to eight hours. If you want your seeds to grow, it’s best to plant them in a warm, sunny spot (at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and bury them just a quarter of an inch.
Seedlings should emerge in a matter of weeks. Their tender stalks necessitate patient translation and a slow hardening off.
Care for Hibiscus in Containers
When you repot your hibiscus in early spring, you can give it a fresh start with new soil and other nutrients it loves. Don’t use extremely large containers, as the plant’s resources will be diverted away from flower production and into root development.
Creatures that Pest the Average Home
Not many pests or diseases bother hibiscus, but low humidity can invite red spider mites. Aphids can also be a problem, but they can be controlled with consistent cleaning and insecticidal soap.
A Guide to Flowering Hibiscus
Hibiscus flowers are exotic, but they only last for a few days. If you have a healthy plant, however, it should bloom profusely from late spring to early fall.
Make sure the plant is not subjected to either extreme heat or cold if you want to keep the flowers from falling off. Even hardy hibiscus varieties can be damaged by frost, and even tropical hibiscus will have trouble flowering if the temperature stays above 85 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time.
Though deadheading isn’t required, your plant’s ability to produce flowers may suffer if it’s too dry, or if it doesn’t get enough water or sunlight.
Hibiscus’ Frequent Illnesses
Hibiscus are picky about their environment, so if you can’t provide what they need, you should be aware of some common issues.
If you notice the leaves on your plant are turning yellow, it may be because you are not providing it with the proper care, such as adequate watering or fertilisation. There will inevitably be some yellowing in the spring and fall, but if it gets too bad, it’s time to start asking questions.
Buds Breaking Off
Bud drop can be caused by factors such as over or under watering, too much or too little heat, too much or too little humidity, and too much or too little sunlight.