What to do With Tropical Hibiscus in Spring

What to do With Tropical Hibiscus in Spring

“I brought my tropical hibiscus that I bought last year into the house in September,” the caller asked. “What do I do with it now?”

Soon our greenhouses will be filled with these showy, easy plants that are summer annuals in this area. They make great patio and porch plants in sunny locations and many of our customers decide to over-winter them indoors. Over the winter tropical hibiscus (also known as Chinese hibiscus or Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) usually loses some of the older leaves. Even in a sunny location the plant is getting less light indoors so it’s natural for some leaves to yellow and drop off. This can also happen if the plant gets too dry in between waterings so be sure not to let the soil go bone dry.

About two to three months before its time to put the plants outside again you can begin getting the plants ready for the coming season. If you haven’t already repotted and the plant has been in the same container since it was purchased, get a large pot (at least two inches larger in width and height) and move the plant using fresh potting soil. If you mix in a handful of organic fertilizer such as PlantTone or FlowerTone you’ll be providing some good slow-release feeding for the summer as well. Since these plants can grow large and get top-heavy using a ceramic pot will help it from blowing over.

After repotting cut the plant back by about a third of its total height. Cut off any deadwood first and if any twigs and branches are rubbing remove one of those. Next use a “shotgun” approach, not a “flat-top haircut” approach with your pruning. In other words, but some of the outside stems lower than the third, some of the middle ones a bit higher, and some of the inner branches even less. Make all your cuts at various heights so that new growth is stimulated in many places.

You can begin fertilizing with a liquid feed after repotting as well.

Wait until the night time temperatures are reliably above 50 degrees before putting your hibiscus outdoors. Place it in a part-shade location at first (a couple of hours of morning sun is perfect) and gradually move it into full-sun over a period of two or three weeks. If some leaves get sun burned, don’t worry. The plants will grow more foliage to replace those that get scorched.

Tropical hibiscus plants are available in such a wide range of flower colors: yellow, pink, lavender and more!

1 Comment

  1. Shirley Shivrattan Dookhi on April 24, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Thank You

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