Home Garden Care: A Quick Guide To Caring For A Tropical Hibiscus Plant

This article tells a novice how to care for a tropical hibiscus.

The tropical hibiscus, known for its large, brilliant flowers, originates from Asia and the Pacific Islands. It is a relative of the hardy Rose of Sharon, and is part of the Malvaceae genus. These lovely bushes can grow quite large over the years and will reach enormous proportions in their native climates. In the United States, they can only be grown outside year round in zones 9 and 10, and may die back to the ground if they get too cold. The breathtaking flowers on the tropical hibiscus are usually yellow, orange, pink, or red. However, they come in many shades and color combinations. New and exciting cultivars continue to be created, including the striking new double blossom varieties.

Most people grow the tropical hibiscus as a container plant and bring it inside in the fall to await warm spring temperatures. Some people do plant these hot house beauties directly in the ground for the growing season, but they tend to have problems with grubs and worms when they repot the plants and bring them in for the winter.

Tropical hibiscus usually prefer filtered sunlight. If you place them in direct sunlight, their leaves will scorch or yellow. However, they do not do well in heavy shade. My hibiscus usually do very well on the porch. I position them close to the edge, so that sunlight easily reaches them. Be sure you do not place your hibiscus where heavy winds could break off stems or knock over pots. Tropical hibiscus have big leaves and need to be watered at least once every day in hot, dry weather. However, do not over-water your plants. They do not like damp roots any more than they like cold weather. To keep your plants blooming, you should pinch off blossoms after they fade. This way, your hibiscus will not expend its energy on producing seeds. It will continue to bloom throughout the season, since it will be trying to make more flowers to produce seeds.

To over-winter the tropical hibiscus, you will need to bring it indoors when temperatures start to drop below 45 degrees at night. Don't wait until it grows too chilly or the plant can become damaged or may even die. It will not bloom under normal indoor conditions and may even start to look a bit ratty, but will quickly develop lush new foliage when the weather warms up enough to move it back outdoors in the spring. Make sure your plant gets at least four hours of sunlight while it is indoors so it can survive. If your plant has really grown over the summer, you may need to prune it back to fit it into your home. The plant won't be harmed by a bit of pruning and shaping. Once your hibiscus is indoors, it will probably not dry out as quickly as a plant that is outdoors. You should check to see if the soil is dry before watering.

Hibiscus come in a rainbow of brilliant colors. Choose some of these vibrant beauties to add a touch of the tropics to your gardens.

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