Hibiscus forum: Winter problems for potted hibiscus in New York

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Jan 2, 2019 9:29 AM CST
Returning with problems after many years of success.... I have been able to grow and maintain about 2 dozen hibiscus plants (some garden varieties and some grafted) in pots for a long time. We normally prune and Neem oil the plants before moving them inside for the winter. We try to wait for the leaves to be off the maples, etc. so that they can have maximum sunlight in our sunroom. We also put them in a shadier location than their summer home to decrease the stress of moving inside. Having done this, we were away for a week where the lowest night temp was 39 degrees. We had 3 weeks of almost constant rain before we left, and the rain continued while we were gone. To add insult to injury, when we returned we found that about 12 of the plants had been almost consumed by deer. We moved them inside and hoped for the best. Fungus gnats! Mosquito bits. But 8 did not do anything - no buds.
Two months after coming inside we now have previously marginal but alive plants, wilting. Despite bleach and extra warmth, they are dying! Any other suggestions? No bugs, no severe mite damage to roots of the dead ones. Those that were not eaten are fine, as are our 3 dozen potted citrus (not eaten).

Second question: Where can I buy cuttings (wood) to restart some of the varieties I have lost. My little "greenhouse" for cuttings in cubes seemed to be fine this summer, but there were no roots formed.... Not working well on damaged plants either.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Jan 7, 2019 5:57 AM CST
I am having exactly the same problem with a potted tropical hibiscus (H. rosae-sinensis).
Warmth, sunlight (filtered through a light curtain), soil kept slightly damp etc and it's still dying out.
This is the fifth ungrafted H. rosae-sinensis I've had and they have all gone through the same curve: apparently they don't overwinter well and restarting them in the Spring is hard. But still it doesn't explain why taking them indoors seems to basically kill them...

If the one I have outside surivives this Winter I am sticking to H. moscheutos from now on! Rolling on the floor laughing

Feb 10, 2019 12:37 PM CST
OK.... 6 of the above mentioned hibiscus actually did not make it... 2 or 3 looked OK but are now failing... The only ones that are doing well may have been near the house during the brief cold spell and were not eaten by the deer. Thank goodness my one remaining grafted plant survived. Will grafting some wood from the "failing" ones onto a POH help? Have tried to root some but after showing promise, they died back.

Really need help up here!
West Central Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Feb 11, 2019 7:50 PM CST
I would think that the 3 weeks of rain is what did them in. I've had hibiscus that survived several light frosts (dropping most leaves,) but all of that rain right before they were put into dormancy by 39 degree weather was the double-whammy that they couldn't survive. Also, I don't think the deer were that much of a problem. It seems the Chinese hibiscus I have will form new stems and leaves right out of the bark as long as it's above soil level. No existing node needed.

What is POH? Grafting or rooting plants that are dying might not work very well, but it's worth a try. Pretty much all of the literature I've read about rooting cuttings says to use healthy, growing branches from a healthy plant. That makes sense, but sometimes desperate plants are pretty willing to root, so maybe you'll get lucky. I've tried rooting H. rosae-sinensis cuttings a few times, and once I almost had 100% success in a batch, so my assumption is that they're not a really difficult plant to root. The plain Jane red variety I have might be easy though, and the ones you have may be difficult, but it's still worth another try.
Name: Keith
Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
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Feb 13, 2019 5:03 PM CST
You are talking about tropical hibiscus, correct?

I attempted to bring in mine this fall. I kept it in my cool, damp unfinished basement with minimal light from a nearby window only watering when the soil started to get dry. It was doing ok, then I brought it upstairs where it's warmer and dryer and plenty of sunlight and it died a month later. ☹️
It seems they enjoy lots of moisture/humidity, so maybe a bathroom with a window and humidity from the shower will help, or try the basement method as long as it's not ice cold, our basement is attatched to the house.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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Feb 13, 2019 9:07 PM CST
I have one I've kept in a guest room this winter. It didn't drop any leaves, and it has kept blooming all winter in an east window!
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