The Q&A Archives: Hardy Hibiscus

Question: I have an hardy Hibiscus that is about 5ft tall. It will have huge beautiful blooms on it. I have been cutting it back every spring and people have told me not to cut off the old wood. Is it necessary to cut it back or does it bloom on the old wood? I cut it back almost to the ground and feed it then new shoots will come up. Am I doing it right or should I just leave it alone? Thank You

Answer: There are two types of hardy hibiscus. One is a herbaceous perennial that dies back to the ground and then regrows from the ground each year. This one can be cut back in the fall because the rangy stems will be dead by the next season.

The other type of hardy hibiscus is a woody shrub, Hibiscus syriacus or Rose of Sharon. This one can be pruned as needed to either shape it or control its size. Pruning is best done in late winter or very early spring because it blooms on the new growth of the season. Most gardeners will trim it back at least some to keep it dense and shapely, but it is not strictly necessary and can be left unpruned indefinitely. It can be grown either as a bush or as a small "tree" form.

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