7 Must-Know Tips on Caring for Hibiscus Plants and Flowers
Hibiscus plants are some of the most common plants found in the world. Even if you are new at gardening, it’s pretty easy to care for both the plant and the flowers that bloom from it. Here is all you need to know about the hibiscus plant and how to take care of the plant so you have beautiful flowers for years to come.
Hibiscus Plant Information
Hibiscus is a plant that requires a lot of sun and water. You want to plant your hibiscus in an area that receives most of the sunlight regardless of whether you plant inside or outside. The soil will need to be rich in various organic matter and it needs to be well-draining soil. Hibiscus will need fertilizer treatments once a month. You want to use fertilizer that is high in both phosphorous and nitrogen and use this throughout the growing season.
While the hibiscus plant needs a lot of sun, it’s very important that you shelter it away from the wind. The stems are more susceptible to breakage if you get the taller varieties of hibiscus, so place them in an area where wind is not going to be much of a factor.
If you are having trouble blooming the hibiscus, it’s wise to remove as many deadheads as possible to encourage the growth.
The USDA zone for hibiscus depends upon which variety you want to plant. The common hibiscus can grown in USDA zones 5 through 10. The Rose of Sharon will grow in USDA zones 5 through 8. When it comes to the Hawaiian White Hibiscus, it will only grow in USDA zone 10. Due to the varieties of this plant, this particular plant can grow in temperate areas, subtropical areas, and tropical areas.
Types of Hibiscus Flowers
There are quite a few different types of hibiscus flowers available for you to choose from, although some are way more popular than others. Four different Tropical varieties of hibiscus are available including Simple Pleasures, Palm Springs, Aphrodite, and Bedazzled. This variation will not grow in cold climates and it’s considered an annual due to it dying off once the weather becomes colder. You will notice that the tropical variety is very bright and colorful. White blooms, yellow blooms, pink blooms, and red orange blooms are the most common colors for this variety.
Hardy hibiscus is the other type of flower and it can withstand the winter cold. Before the cold season arrives, you should be pruning the plant down some. There are four different types of hardy hibiscus including Lord Baltimore, Kopper King, Blue River II, and Scarlet Rose Mallow. The Lord Baltimore has very bright red coloration and features large petals. Blue River II has white blooms while the Kooper King features pink in the middle with lighter outer-edge coloration. The Scarlet Rose Mallow features red petals that look like a pinwheel.
How to Care for and Grow a Hibiscus Plant
Caring for a hibiscus plant is fairly simple and will pay off with beautiful blooming flowers during the active months. There are several things you can do to help your hibiscus plant grow and thrive for years to come. Light maintenance and offering the plant extra nutrients via fertilizer will go a long way in helping your plant bloom to its full potential. There are four certain tips you can follow to ensure your hibiscus plant is being cared for properly.
1. Add Worm Castings to the Soil
Worm castings are a great addition to the soil because they are a lot richer than the regular compost. That is because the worm castings are digested products of specific earthworms. Worm castings have potassium, phosphorous, nitrogen, humus, and other micro-nutrients that are highly beneficial to hibiscus.
2. Frequent but Light Fertilizer Schedule
Hibiscus plants need to be on a light fertilizer schedule for optimum growth and development. It’s best to use a balanced fertilizer for hibiscus, which means something like 10-10-10. Slow release fertilizer should be used four times a year for optimal results. Early spring, after the first bloom, middle of the summer, and early winter are the best times.
Water soluble fertilizer on the other hand requires a much more demanding fertilizing schedule. Using a weak mixture once every couple weeks during the spring and summer is best. During the fall and winter months you can slow down and only fertilize once every month.
3. Prune the Old Hibiscus Flowers
Pruning the old hibiscus flowers is a great idea and this is called getting rid of the deadhead. It’s important to remove the old flowers before seeds form so that the plant can continue to bloom.
Not only is deadheading important to bring new in new blooms, but it also makes the plant look more attractive. Take the flower stem that is behind the base and pinch the old bloom off. If you have shears, you also can use them to snip the old flowers off. There are often times a lot of dead flowers to remove at one time.
Shearing is obviously much quicker and it’s pretty easy to do. Just cut the hibiscus back one-third of the height once the flowering flush has finished. To encourage the branching you can make the cuts above the bud or leaf. Make sure to remove all trimmings from the plant after cutting to stave off diseases and pests.
4. Check Frequently for Pest Infestations
As with most other plants, you need to check your hibiscus plant regularly to ensure that no pest infestations have occurred. Aphids are small black, white, or green pests that you might find around the foliage of the plant. Whiteflies look similar to gnats and they can be found on the underside of the leaves. Thrips like to lay eggs right in the buds so check the buds to ensure no narrow-looking Thrips have made a home inside of the plant.
Scale can also be a problem and you might find them near the trunk, stems, or leaves of the plant. Scale love the sap found in the leaves and they can have either hard or soft scales attached to them. These bugs are very small and have a waxy-looking surface on them. Mealybugs are soft but have a waxy looking body. They also love to drink the sap from the trunk, stems and leaves of the hibiscus plant.
How to Care for an Indoor Hibiscus Plant
Hibiscus plants are able to thrive in indoor environments just as well as outdoor environments if you choose the right plant and take care of it properly. As with any plant, you need to make sure you are putting the plant in an area where it can thrive, which are only certain locations in a house. Caring for an indoor hibiscus plant is easy if you follow these simple rules and guidelines.
1. Pick Hibiscus that can Grow in Indoor Conditions
It’s very important that you do your homework and choose the best hibiscus for indoor conditions. With more than 200 different species of hibiscus available, it’s good to know that most of them are not suitable for indoor use. For indoor conditions the Chinese hibiscus seems to be the most popular and most likely to grow as a houseplant.
The Chinese hibiscus is tropical so this means you will need to keep it indoors during the winter and you can put it outdoors in the summer if you live in a temperate climate. In the winter this plant should be in the south-facing window to get the most sun. It’s best to use artificial light to supplement the shorter days during the winter and a timer ensures the plant will get enough sun each day.
2. Place the Hibiscus Where There’s Plenty of Sunlight
The hibiscus needs a lot of sunlight in order to grow and thrive. In your home, you should place the hibiscus in the southwest or south-facing window. If you feel that you don’t have adequate sunlight coming through, then you can use artificial light as a supplement.
3. Use a Humidity Tray to Tackle Dry Air Conditions
You can use a humidity tray if you have dry air conditions inside of your house to ensure the plant is getting all of the moisture it needs to thrive.
It’s best to use this tray in the colder months because moisture is lost when you start running the heat in your home. Take a shallow tray and fill it with a light layer of gravel. Add water to the tray and then set your hibiscus plant inside of this tray.
Hibiscus Care – Frequently Asked Questions
One of the most frequent questions revolves around watering the hibiscus indoors during the winter. Bring in the plant once temperatures outside are below freezing for consecutive days. After it’s inside you need to ensure it’s in a location that does not go below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You can easily overwater the plant if it’s coming from the outdoors to the indoors. Only water the hibiscus when the soil is dry.
How to propogate hibiscus is another common question and this can be done either using the cuttings or the seeds. The cuttings are the best because it means you will have the exact same looking plant as the parent plant. Take the cuttings either in the very early summer or sometime in the spring. Find a node and cut about six-inches below that and then remove everything except the very top leaves. Grab some rooting hormones and dip the end into it and put this in a pot. Make sure the soil you are using is well-draining and then cover this with a plastic bag. Ensure the soil stays moist and keep it out of the direct sunlight.
It’s beneficial to the hibiscus if you mulch too, which is a fairly common question people have. Mulching is great because it not only provides a lot of protection for the roots, but it also helps the plant retain the moisture. Since hibiscus plants needs quite a bit of moisture, this is a great way to help the plant thrive and prevent the soil from drying out quickly.
How Much Water Does a Hibiscus Need?
The hibiscus will need to be watered every couple days thoroughly for the first three weeks after you plant them. For the first growing season you should be watering hibiscus two times a week, and then once a week every year after that. One really nice benefit to this plant is that it’s difficult to overwater them because they require and love water in almost any amount. If you have hibiscus in containers you will need to water them about four times a week.
Why Are My Hibiscus Leaves Turning Yellow and Falling Off?
There are many different reasons as to why your hibiscus leaves are turning yellow and beginning to fall off. Temperature, light, location, pests, watering issues, and nutrient deficiencies can all cause the leaves to turn yellow. Spider mites and other pests can cause the yellow and in most cases pesticide will get rid of these pests. You need to be careful because too much pesticide can also cause yellowing of the leaves.
Too much or too little sunlight or water can cause yellowing of the leaves. If you have moved your plant and the plant becomes stressed out in the new environment, yellow leaves can occur. Too hot of temperature can cause yellowing of leaves, especially if the plant is not getting enough water. If the plant is too cold there is also a risk of yellow leaves developing. If the leaves are yellow but are still on the plant, then this could be caused by a nutrient deficiency. When this happens, you will need to add some fertilizer to the soil.