How do I care for my hibiscus bushes in the winter? - Knowledgebase Question

St. Louis, Mi
Avatar for cinderstelli
Question by cinderstelli
August 25, 2010
I live in St. Louis, MO and bought 6 gorgeous hibiscus bushes to plant in my back yard. I could not pass up this $5 Home Depot sale (so I went a little crazy)! I came home and planted them the next day. They're doing great in the area I decided to plant them. Now that fall is fast approaching, I'm left wondering what to do with them for the winter. Do I need to get 6 pots to bring them inside in?

Answer from NGA
August 25, 2010
There are a number of species within the hibiscus family, some of which are hardy outdoors in cold winter areas such as yours. Check the tag to see which kind you have. Hibiscus moscheutos is hardy, Hibiscus rosa sinensis is the tropical cultivar and will be damaged if left outdoors in winter. The roots are not hardy enough to survive, even if you mulch to protect the plant. I'd dig the plants, put them in containers to winter over indoors, but not until the weather begins cooling off in autumn. When growth slows and nighttime temperatures reach 55F, dig your plant, brush off as much garden soil from the roots as you can, and replant in a container of moistened potting soil. When you do move your plants indoors (do it gradually over a period of several days by bringing them in at night and taking them out during the day so they can adjust to the temperature differences). Indoors, place your plants in a bright spot without direct sunshine, keep the soil moist but not soggy wet, and mist the leaves occasionally. Flowering will stop in the winter and you can cut back the stems by 1/3 to help keep the plants bushy. In the spring, when the nighttime temperatures remain above 55F you can take your plants outside again.

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