The Q&A Archives: Why is my braided hibiscus tree dying

Question: I planted my hibiscus tree and it is not surviving. help

Answer: Tropical hibiscus is fairly easy to grow in the Phoenix area. It takes both summer and winter temperatures well. It flowers almost all year and is especially productive in spring.

Tropical hibiscus take the summer heat well if regularly watered. They will be more attractive overall if they receive afternoon shade, even though direct sun for part of the day is necessary for flower production. Some varieties of tropical hibiscus take the heat better than others.

To properly plant, dig a hole at least twice the size of the rootball. At a minimum, make the hole 2 feet in diameter and 1 foot deep. Work in a 50/50 mix of compost to soil. Be sure to mix the compost and soil as thoroughly as possible. It also is a good idea to finish with the hole an inch or two recessed so that a watering basin is formed.

Most of the year hibiscus do well on a grass watering schedule. During winter the plant will be green but is almost dormant so it needs very little water and can be switched to a citrus watering schedule. Watering a hibiscus too much during winter will make it chlorotic.

Basin or flood irrigation is recommended because it helps keep the salt in our salty water from accumulating around the roots. Furthermore, deep watering will encourage the plant to develop deeper roots, making it tougher when the weather gets hot and dry.

Hibiscus grow at a moderate rate and therefore consume a moderate amount of nutrients. Organic methods can be used to keep them healthy and these methods can also be supplemented with small amounts of chemical fertilizers. The simplest and most effective organic fertilizer is compost which can be spread around the base of the plant at a depth of an inch. Slow release chemical fertilizers are recommended, and varieties that also acidify the soil will help the plant look greener.

Hope this information helps you determine just what might be wrong with your hibiscus.

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