winter care for Hibiscus - Knowledgebase Question

Anderson, So
Question by dmiddleton
August 15, 2008
I live in South Carolina and have two Hibiscis in their first year and want to keep them healthy over the winter. They add such beautiful flowers to the garden that I want to add more next year.

Answer from NGA
August 15, 2008


There are two types of hibiscus commonly sold - tropical hibiscus and hardy hibiscus. Tropical hibiscus has glossy green leaves and is frost tender. Tropical hibiscus is a shrub that is often grown outdoors in the summer and indoors as a houseplant in winter. If this is what you're growing, bring it inside to a bright, sunlit area for the winter and taken out each spring.

Take Chinese hibiscus outside after all danger of frost is past. Be sure to acclimate plants gradually to the increased light and lower temperatures outside. They prefer rich, well drained soil with plenty of organic matter, in full sun or light afternoon shade. Water the plants freely during the growing season, and fertilize with either a time release fertilizer every eight weeks or with a water soluble fertilizer every two weeks. To keep mature plants growing vigorously prune old wood back by about one third in spring.

Bring Chinese hibiscus back indoors when nighttime temperatures fall into the lower 50s F.

Hardy hibiscus can be planted in the garden and will survive the winters without any special care. They prefer a sunny location and well drained soil containing plenty of organic matter. These conditions result in the most vigorous growth. Hibiscus will tolerate light shade and less desirable soils, but their vigor and flowering will be reduced. Plenty of water is necessary for the most abundant blooming. Water plants deeply and thoroughly, but allow some time between drenchings on established plants. Newly planted hibiscus will need more frequent watering, like other newly planted perennials. Some species and varieties will actually tolerate permanently damp soil and flooding.

Tall hibiscus should be sited where they are not exposed to strong winds to avoid breaking of the long stems. Stems that break can be shortened and new side shoots will grow and produce more blooms.

To encourage rebloom, either remove old flowers before they form seedheads or prune plants back by one third after a flush of bloom is finished.

Perennial hibiscus will freeze back to the ground each winter in all but the warmest parts of South Carolina. Old stems can then be cut back to the ground. New shoots emerge by mid spring.

Hope this information is helpful!

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