The Q&A Archives: Caring for Hibiscus in NJ

Question: I just bought a hibiscus plant, and was wondering what precautions should be taken to enable it to survive our eratic winters in southern New Jersey. Can I plant it in the garden, and trim it back in the fall? Should I cover it for the winter, if yes with what type of material? Or is it best kept in a container and brought in the house for the winter? If it is to be brought inside, how much light and water should it receive during this period. Thanks for all your help!! Robin Mt Laurel, NJ

Answer: Hibiscus are tropical plants, so you'll need to bring the plant indoors for the winter. They cannot withstand a frost. During its time outdoors in the sunshine, keep it well-watered, and fertilize regularly. When you bring it indoors, place it in a sunny, or at least bright, spot, and cut back on the fertilizer and water--how much water the plant will need depends on how warm and dry your house is. Don't let it dry out, though. It doesn't need to go through a dormant period like some plants. Once the weather warms up again next spring, acclimate the plant to the outdoors by placing it in a protected spot for a few hours at a time every day for a week or two. Increase water and fertilizer rates.

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