The Q&A Archives: Hibiscus Care in the Desert

Question: Please advise me to the care of a Hibiscus in Yuma, Az. I have just planted it in the ground, soil here is very sandy. How much do I water it and can I use Mircle Grow? Can it make it through the hot summers here?

Answer: Although hibiscus are sold in the low desert, as a tropical plant they are not ideally suited to our conditions, so our harsh environment can take a toll on them. I assume that you purchased a variety that is bred to do better in the desert. For about two months, keep the soil moist (not wet) around the entire rootball out to the plant's drip line (canopy), so that it can establish a strong root system. Hibiscus are frost-tender, so monitor weather forecasts and protect if frost is predicted. Fertilize in February at the start of the growing season. Miracle-Gro will be just fine. Hibiscus also prefer acid soil conditions and our desert soils are alkaline, so you might want to use Miracid. Read instructions and follow carefully. Water thoroughly before and after applying any fertilizer to reduce chance of burn. Summer is considered a dormant period for many of the non-native plants that grow here, such as roses. It's best not to "force" them to produce at this time with fertilizer. It stresses the plant and may cause fertilizer burn. Provide protection from the hot afternoon sun and strong winds. Water slowly and deeply, and let the water leach salts past the root zone. "Sprinkling" with water lightly and frequently allows salts to accumulate in the soil, burning roots. Fertilize again just as weather cools in the fall. I hope this info helps.

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