The Q&A Archives: Propagating Hibiscus

Question: How can I get more perennial Hibiscus plants? Are the seeds in the spent flowers used and if so when do you harvest them?

Answer: Hibiscus can be propagated by cuttings, seeds, layering or grafting. Gather the seeds when the capsules are dry. Sow seeds in the spring when temperatures are 59-68 degrees Farenheit. Here's more detailed info on seed saving:

Don?t save seed from hybrid plants, because when planted it will not mature identical to the parent plant. (A hybrid plant is produced by cross pollinating two different parent plants.) Hybrid plants are labeled as such on seed packets and in catalog descriptions.

Let some flowers dry and ?go to seed.? As seeds begin to turn brown and fall off, hold a paper bag or container underneath and tap dry seeds into it. Or, tie paper bags over the flowerheads to catch falling seeds. Punch a few holes in the bag to provide circulation. Another way is to wait until about 10 percent of the seeds are brown and falling off. Then cut the entire flowerhead and stem, place it upside down in a paper bag, hang it in a cool, dry location and let the seeds separate on their own.

Collect seeds on dry, sunny days to avoid any excess moisture. If needed, dry seeds completely on sheets of newspaper for a week or so. Dispose of stems and leaves. A screen or colander works well to remove chaff. Store seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator.

If you're interested in trying cuttings, here's how to do it. Softwood cuttings are of new growth that is not yet firm. They should be about two inches long, with two-three pairs of leaves at the top of the stem. Insert the cuttings into the planting medium, just up to the lowest leaves. Rooting hormone may be used, but is not essential. It helps to pinch off the growing tip, which helps force more roots. If possible, place the cuttings in a covered environment (a mini greenhouse) and provide bottom heat. I hope this info helps--good luck!

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