The Q&A Archives: Long-term Care

Question: I live in Cold Hardiness Zone 6. I absolutely LOVE Hibiscus and bought your

Answer: There is a "Blushing Bride" cultivar of Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of sharon) which is hardy in your area. If this is what you have, it should do fine in a location with full sun and well drained soil.

There is also a "Bride" cultivar of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, the tropical hibiscus. If this is what you have, it will need to be overwintered indoors and should not be exposed to temperatures below about 50 degrees. It is stressful on the plant to uproot it in the fall, so usually gardeners who want to keep it from year to year grow it as a container plant year round.

It can summer outside, but bring it indoors before it is exposed to too much cold in the fall. Gradually acclimate it to a lower light level before bringing it indoors, also check it carefully for pests before you bring it indoors. In spring, gradually acclimate it to being outside in the real sun again to avoid "sunburning" the foliage.

When indoors, keep it in a bright location away from both hot and cold drafts. Water to keep the soil slightly moist and fertilize from spring through fall with a water soluble fertilizer such as 10-10-10 plus minors, or use a slow release fertilizer with a similar analysis.

Keep an eye out for pests such as mealy bug, spider mites and scale, especially when it is indoors.

Pruning can be done all at once in winter by cutting the plant back overall, or it can be done one branch at a time throughout the year. These usually need pruning eventually to keep them to a manageable size.

Enjoy your hibiscus!

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