Grow Your Hibiscus Tree Efficiently
As exotic houseplants go, the hibiscus tree is one of the easiest to manage and enjoy beautiful tropical flowers year around. The large, colorful blossoms are generally 3 – 6 inches in diameter and can be found in different colors and varieties. These include hearty shrubs or tree standards in hues of red, yellow, orange, fuchsia, salmon, pale pink, white, multicolor, and even some double blossom varieties.
Fast Facts About Your Hibiscus Tree
- They can be grown outdoors year around in USDA growing zones Nine through ten. However, they will not survive well if exposed to even slight frost.
- These tropical plants are happiest in full sunlight.
- Potting soil should be rich, fortified, but well-draining.
- Hibiscus plants are often grown in containers using a soilless or sandy potting mix to prevent compaction and promote drainage.
- They are truly a tropical plant, so keep the soil moist just don’t allow saturated soil or standing water.
- According to the University of Minnesota, fertilizer is beneficial, for helping the Tropical hibiscus bloom. It responds well to regular feeding with balanced, organic, liquid fertilizer.
- Be careful not to overdo it with fertilizer as the tree is injury prone and can become burned from too much or fertilizer that is too strong.
- When burned, the leaves will dry up and turn brown.
- If planted indoors, it can bloom periodically all year long. Outdoors, it blooms in the spring through the fall. However, blooming might slow in the heat of summer.
- Try braiding the stems of your hibiscus tree for an elegant look. Check out this video from the experts at My Too Sprouts Farm on YouTube.
The Care and Feeding of Your Hibiscus Tree
According to Clemson University, hibiscus are hearty performers, whether in the garden or other bright areas inside your home. Here, is what they need to bloom year around:
The hibiscus tree needs a place that mimics its tropical home. It is said that the hibiscus enjoys the same climate as most people. Regarding temperature, a plant that is in bloom requires a constant temperature of 60 to 90 degrees. However, they can tolerate short periods of hot or cold without issue.
Exposure to temperatures below 50 degrees, such as nighttime drops, will cause a temporary stunt in growth and blooming will cease until it becomes warm again. The size of blooms decrease may also become misshapen if exposed to hot or cold for an extended period.
Temperatures below 30 degrees for more than a few hours will kill the plant entirely, while temperatures over 95 degrees will cause the blooms to fall off. More frequent watering is required in hotter climates.
There are basically two watering strategies: cold weather and warm weather watering. In warmer weather, the hibiscus tree needs a steady supply of water. However, avoid flooding of the roots. Never allow the plant to stand in water. Your Hibiscus will tell you if it is thirsty by having droopy leaves. They perk up quickly and regain full crispness when properly watered.
In colder weather, less water is needed. Because there is an increased danger of fungal disease of the roots cold and wet conditions should be avoided. Only water as much as the plant requires.
Hibiscus need to be fed too. A high-quality plant food made especially for the hibiscus family of plants is recommended and should contain iron, copper, and manganese
Planting Hibiscus in the Ground
Before you plant your hibiscus tree outside, it is important to do some investigation.
Test the Drainage
After you dig the hole, pour in a gallon water. If the water soaks in within an hour you are good to go.
Know Your Soil
If it is sandy, you may have a problem growing hibiscus. This soil does not absorb water or fertilizer. well. You can always add a good compost or other organic matter so to ensure that it holds the water and fertilizer.
Dig a Proper Hole
The hole should be several inches wider than the pot. If you are fortifying your soil, make sure that the hole is much larger than that. For cooler climates, you’ll need to plant the hibiscus tree deeper into the ground. If your climate is warm and humid, dig a shallower hole. Be sure to break up the ground surrounding the hole, so that the plant can establish its root system.
Once you have prepared the ground, you should pre-water the hole before putting in the plant. As gently as you can, remove the hibiscus tree from its pot, carefully so that you don’t damage the roots. Position the plant to your liking and then gently pack the soil around it.
Finally, soak the plant and surrounding ground deeply, saturate down to the root ball thoroughly. You’ll want to wait two weeks before beginning to fertilize. Need more help? Check out this great video on planting hibiscus from the folks at eHowGarden on YouTube.
Growing Hibiscus in Pots
Many people live in places where it isn’t possible to plant a hibiscus tree into the ground. The good news is that you can grow hibiscus trees in small containers. It is possible to bring them indoors in the winter and enjoy them on the patio in the warmer months. Still, there are a few questions you may have about keeping your potted hibiscus tree happy and healthy.
Q. What size container should I use?
A. A 10″ container is optimal since it is easy to move around, and works well in almost any area. Smaller pots can be used to keep the plant more compact for table tops.
Q. What type of potting soil do I use?
A. A good potting soil mix will be made of peat, coco coir, or composted bark. This step ensures that it will hold moisture and fertilizer. You can add a little bit of sand or perlite mix for better drainage. Other organic matter will support health by encouraging healthy bacteria to grow. This is helpful to keep your plant in bloom year around.
Q. Should I be pruning my hibiscus tree?
A. If you are using a small container, pruning becomes more important. Not only does it impact the shape of your plant, but also will encourage new plant growth and frequent blooming. Use sharp scissors and determine which node you want to create a branch from to help you create the shape you desire. Prune more areas for a fuller plant, less for a more compact design.
It is also important to prune the roots every few years. To do this, ease the pot off the root ball. If you see that roots have formed a mass at the bottom, you should prune them.
Fortunately, root pruning is simple. Simply slice off the bottom two inches from the root ball with a sharp knife. Repot with fresh potting mix. The plant will grow new roots and stimulate growth of the entire plant. For a more detailed view, check out this informative video from our friends at Worm’s Way on YouTube.
When you have finished pruning, you will want to water, fertilize, and use a high-quality plant food to jump-start the growth. University of Missouri Ag Department advises to continue fertilizing with a good-quality growth enhancer until the plant is leafed out, full, and in bloom.
In Conclusion, the hibiscus tree is a wonderful way to have a little piece of paradise in your home year-round. With the proper care, it will reward you with breathtaking blooms and thick foliage. The stems of the plant can even be braided or twisted and the plant trimmed for a fun topiary.
Photo by Peter Kratochvil licensed under CC0 1.0