The Q&A Archives: Hibiscus Indoors For The Winter?

Question: I have moved my hibiscus, which is in a terra cotta pot, into the house for the winter. I have it in a room with lots of windows and lots of light, but there is no direct sunlight on the hibiscus. Would it be better to leave it outside, where it will receive direct sunlight during the day but may have to endure temps in the 30s and occasionally lower at night? Should I prune it?

Answer: Two commonly sold types of hibiscus have very different requirements; Rose-Mallow, the perennial hibiscus is a hardy shrub that grows 6-8 feet high. It dies down each winter and produces new flowering stems each spring. Chinese hibiscus is a tropical plant that grows all year indoors, or spends summers outdoors and winters in a greenhouse. These plants reach 30 feet in the tropics, but stay much smaller if grown indoors. There's not much you can offer in the way of protection from frost and winter freeze other than to bring the tropical kind of hibiscus indoors, or into a greenhouse during the winter months.

Since you've moved your plant indoors, place it in the sunniest spot you have. Keep it out of drafts and keep the humidity around it high if possible. Expect some yellowing of leaves in protest of the move. Reduce watering and fertilizing as the plant's growth slows.

In the spring, when the nighttime temperature remains above 50F, move your plant back outdoors.

Prune your plant back now, or in the spring, before you take it back outdoors.

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