How to grow hibiscus?

Hibiscus Container Care: Growing Tropical Hibiscus In Containers

Also known as Chinese hibiscus, tropical hibiscus is a flowering shrub that displays big, showy blooms from spring through autumn. Growing tropical hibiscus in containers on a patio or deck is a good option; hibiscus performs best when its roots are slightly crowded. Read on to learn more about tropical hibiscus container gardening.

Container Culture for Chinese Hibiscus

Tropical hibiscus thrives in warm, humid climates. The plant performs best when it receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day; however, afternoon shade is beneficial in hot climates.

Move tropical hibiscus to a sheltered location or bring it indoors during the winter if you live in a climate with chilly winters. The shrub doesn’t tolerate temperatures below 45 F. (7 C.).

Place the plant in a shady location for two weeks before you move it indoors so it can acclimate to its new environment. Move the container outdoors gradually in the spring when the temperature reaches 45 to 50 F. (7-10 C.).

Planting Hibiscus in Pots

Plant hibiscus in a pot filled with a lightweight, well-drained potting mix, such as a product that contains compost and perlite or vermiculite.

Although tropical hibiscus loves sunlight, it helps to place a newly-planted hibiscus in the shade for about two weeks so the plant has time to adjust, then move it into bright sunlight.

Be sure the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom to prevent root rot and other diseases causes by poorly drained soil and excess moisture.

Hibiscus Container Care

Growing tropical hibiscus in containers can be tricky. The plant requires consistent watering because potting mixture dries quickly and tropical hibiscus tends to turn yellow and drop flower buds without adequate water. Check the plant often because it may require watering twice daily during hot, sunny weather.

Tropical hibiscus requires nitrogen and high levels of potassium. Feed the plant lightly but regularly, using a water-soluble fertilizer formulated for hibiscus. You can also use a slow-release fertilizer, which lasts for up to six weeks.

Watch for pests such as:

  • Spider mites
  • Aphids
  • Thrips
  • Scale
  • Whiteflies

Most pests are easily controlled with insecticidal soap spray. Apply the spray when the sun isn’t directly on the foliage, as the spray may burn the plants. Never spray when temperatures are above 90 F. (32 C.). A cool morning or evening is best.

Growing Hibiscus In Containers

Hibiscus species native to tropical climates have shallow roots and, hence, they adapt excellently in pots or containers. In fact, container plants are said to be particularly adaptable when grown in confined areas. Potted tropical hibiscus plants are ideal for people who live in apartments and do their gardening in balconies or those who move house quite frequently. Growing tropical hibiscus in pots enables the gardeners to exhibit them when the plants are at their best, and take them away at other times. At the same time, people who live in places having cold climatic conditions have no option, but to grow hibiscus in containers.

Types of containers

Various types of containers are available in the market and it is advisable that you opt for pots that are equally wide and deep or preferably wider than their depth. It is important to grow hibiscus in wide containers because the delicate feeder roots of these plants expand from the stem base much in the form of a wheel’s spoke, but nearly horizontally. In fact, hibiscus plants have additional fine feeder roots compared to the anchoring roots that grow downwards into the ground. Hence, narrow containers are absolutely unsuitable for growing hibiscus plants.

While it is alright to grow hibiscus in plastic pots, but they heat up where the climatic conditions are very warm, eventually damaging the roots. Moreover, it is important to ensure that one side of the pot does not heat up, while the other side remains cool. Therefore, if you are living in places having warmer climates, it is always safer to put the plastic pots inside other bigger pots. Many people, who grow hibiscus professionally, suggest using terracotta pots instead of plastic pots because the clay-fried pots are not “glazed” and, hence, enable the plants to “breathe”. Alternatively, you may also use pots made from concrete or stone. In fact, timber pots are also excellent for growing hibiscus, provided they can retain moisture. Containers made from cedar wood as well as wooden wine barrels serve this purpose excellently.

Although hibiscus plants grown in pots are heavy, they have a very gentle growth habit. Different from the plants having robustly growing roots, which require repotting very soon or planting outdoors, the roots of hibiscus never break open their pots.

Many other plants, such as shrubs, orchids, agapanthus that have fleshy roots and bulbous plants with exploratory or expansive roots can often break the containers. On the other hand, when the roots of hibiscus grow to their limit, they automatically begin to defer growth. When the roots reach the perimeter of the pot or container and grown downwards along the sides, they slowly start filling up the center of the pots.

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Size

A container that is roughly 12 inches to 24 inches (30 cm to 60 cm) at the top and has a slightly narrower base is ideal for growing a medium sized hibiscus, which may grow up to a height of 6 feet (2 meters). Ideally, the height and the width of the containers should be almost the same. Hibiscus grows well in pots having more width than height, but never be comfortable in containers that are higher than wider. This is primarily owing to the fact that if a pot is tall and narrow, its space at the bottom is wasted, while the area at the top is too narrow for the plant’s growth. Therefore, it is advisable that you should start with a pot having a width of 12 inches to 16 inches (30 cm to 40 cm) at the base. This will allow the plant to grow in the same pot for several years, following which you can report the hibiscus in a bigger container.

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Drainage

While growing hibiscus in pots, you should ensure that the drainage system is such that it allows additional water to pass, but retains the solid and nutrients. Ideally, the drainage holes ought to be in the pot’s external perimeter, instead of being below. Or the drainage holes may be in both places because, in the long run, the matted roots below can block the drainage. This is more likely to happen in the case of pots that are placed on saucers. Therefore, it is advisable that you place the pots on a somewhat raised platform made using broken bricks, terracotta tiles or the likes. In fact, saucers are very useful when placed underneath pots kept indoors and also for frequent watering when you are absent. When you are not there to water the potted plants, you may leave some water in the shallow saucers with a view to keep the plants cool in extremely hot weather conditions. However, generally speaking, as it is necessary to have a sharp drainage, potted hibiscus plants require regular watering and side drainage.

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Potting mix

The potting mix should be highly porous and, therefore, it is always necessary to include some amount of sand in it. The type of sand that is most suited for this purpose is called ‘sharp’ sand, which denotes the surface of each sand particle or grain. Sand that is made up of sharp grains, instead of smoothed grains is actually derived from granite and this type of sand grains is ideal for air-filled porousness.

In addition, the potting mix should also be loose and friable. Therefore, it is best to have a blend of 80 percent potting mix (generally pine bark dust) and 20 percent “sharp” sand. Alternatively, you may also use a blend of superior quality commercial potting mix and garden loam with an equal amount of sand. Moreover, you may also include a little amount of properly aged compost in the potting mix. Nevertheless, you should be careful that the compost does not have any worm, for worms obstruct drainage. Apart from sand, you may also add a little measure of fine peat, instead of the compost. If you are using a potting mix that does not contain soil, it will also not have any trace elements. Therefore, you need to supply these trace elements by means of a slow-release or medium-release fertilizer. However, the best thing to do is using some amount of compost in all types of potting mix. Be careful only to use a small amount, otherwise you may apply the compost in the form of surface mulch. You may also use well decomposed manure to provide the mulch covering.

Plant selection

If you are contemplating to grow hibiscus in pots, you should always opt for dense and luxuriant plants. In fact, it is essential to avoid plants that are tall, lanky or scraggy. While it is possible to control the size of a plant by pruning it, it is always preferable to purchase a relatively smaller bush to begin with – if possible get a plant having a thick branching tendency and copious foliage.

Planting

After you have filled three-fourth of the container with the potting mix or planting media, place the hibiscus in the desired position. Be careful not to damage or compress the roots in the process. At the same time, ensure that you do not plant the hibiscus very deeply, but keep the plant’s root and stem joint near the surface of the soil. Now, add the remaining mix close to the brim of the pot. Next, pat down the mix lightly so that there is a space of about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch (3 cm to 4 cm) at the top. Remember, you should never fill the pot completely up to the top. When this is done, water the soil properly. After the plant settles, the level of the soil may decrease to some extent and then you may put a slight layer of mulch. Mulching the plant is not essential, but definitely beneficial.

Feeding and watering

In case you are employing slow-release fertilizer, such as pellets or coated granules, you may require feeding the hibiscus plant with these nourishments at least two times each year – once during spring and then in early fall. If you are living in a place having cool climatic conditions and growing small plants, it will be sufficient to apply the fertilizers just once a year. On the other hand, if you are applying any liquid foliar spray, you need to feed the plant more frequently – no less than once in two to three weeks, especially all through the growing season.

As far as watering the potted hibiscus is concerned, you need to water the plants only when they require it. Scrape the surface of the soil to a depth of roughly 3/4 inch to 1 inch (2 cm to 3 cm) and if you find that the soil is moist underneath, don’t water the plant. On the other hand, if you find the soil to be arid, water the plant thoroughly using a hose. It is necessary to water the plants adequately after feeding them with nutriments (fertilizers).

Maintenance and pruning

The plant’s size is usually controlled by the dimension of the pot. For instance, if your container’s diameter is about 12 inches to 24 inches (30 cm to 60 cm), the hibiscus plant will usually grow up to a height of 5 feet (1.5 meters) from the pot’s base and measure roughly 39 inches to 51 inches (1 meter to 1.3 meters) across. Perhaps, this size is apt for any gardener to handle properly. In reality, it is always preferable to have a plant of a smaller size.

Provided you have a preference for a smaller shrub-like hibiscus plant, simply cut it back. However, many gardeners are not aware of the fact that when they prune the foliage, their plant also prunes its root by itself. For instance, if you reduce the size of the plant to a height of approximately 20 inches (50 cm), the decrease in the foliage will prompt the feeding roots to retract inside the soil. While retracting, the feeder roots leave behind minute air tunnels in the potting mix, something similar to tunnels made by worms, but narrower. Irrespective of whether it is a potted plant or a large shrub-like plant growing in the open garden, the roots will always retract in this manner. In the case of larger bushes in the garden, the feeding roots spread out to the drip line of the leaves in such a way that the external dimensions of the plant help the gardener to determine the roots’ external perimeter.

You should never feed your hibiscus plant when its roots are retracting or reducing themselves, because the roots are not able to absorb the nutrients when they are retracting. During this time, the plant draws its nutrients from the carbohydrates it has amassed within itself, while the air tunnels created by the retracting roots provide it with adequate air. Therefore, if you find a spurt in new growths after you have pruned the plant radically, you should know that such growths are being supported by the plant’s stored energy and not from the nutrients contained in the soil.

In fact, pruning the hibiscus bush with a view to spruce the roots is a superbly tidy system, especially for the home gardeners. While this is a reliable means to maintain the shape of potted hibiscus for several years and can be repeated a number of times, eventually the plant will require a fresh growing medium for invigorating the hibiscus. It is worth mentioning here that the roots’ color manifests the overall health of the plant. While white roots mean that the plant is growing robustly, when the roots have a darker hue, it is an indication that the condition of the plant is not good. While you are repotting the plant, ensure that you use a new pot that is just one size larger than the previous one.

Repotting

When the roots of your potted hibiscus plant have grown large and became visible through the drainage holes, you should know that it is time to repot the plant in a larger container – always the next size of pot. On the other hand, the appearance of the plant shows that it has consumed all the nutrients supplied to it and it needs to be fed again. While repotting the plant to a larger pot, you need to be extra careful so as to prevent any damage to the roots. Scrape the potting mix of the old pot, gently take out the plant and position it in the potting mix of the new pot. Ensure that the root and stem joint of the plant are at the level of the surface. Dissimilar to other different root-bound plants, which respond excellently to teasing their matted roots, hibiscus plants will only tolerate very tender handling of the roots.

Hibiscus
History of hibiscus
Outdoor cultivation of hibiscus
Propagation of hibiscus
Pruning and maintenance of hibiscus
Pests of hibiscus
Diseases of hibiscus

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6 Tips for Planting a Beautiful Container Garden Every Time

Container gardens are an easy, versatile way to add color in your garden or on your porch. But there’s more to it than throwing some begonias and impatiens in a pot and calling it a day. Aesthetically, you’ll get much better results by varying the height, color, and texture of plants. Then, there’s the needs of the plants themselves to consider. Some plants grow well in both sun and shade, while others are pickier about their preferred light exposure. And when it comes to watering, some plants require a daily drenching while others can go a few days without a drink. These six tips will walk you through how to create a beautiful container garden that you’ll enjoy all season long.

Image zoom Jay Wilde

1. Choose a Container Based on Your Climate, Budget, Space, and Style

Much like plants, containers have their own characteristics to take into account, such as weight, sensitivity to weather changes, and appearance. You’ll also want to consider your budget, space, and style when choosing a container. Keep in mind that the larger the size of your container, the less you will need to water, but whichever you choose, always make sure it has holes in the bottom to allow extra water to drain out. Some common types of pots include the following.

  • Terra-Cotta: Versatile and inexpensive, terra-cotta containers are also referred to as clay pots. You can find them plain or with colorful glazes on the outside. The only downside to using terra-cotta is that they are somewhat fragile. They will chip and crack if handled too roughly, and can be damaged by freezing temperatures (empty and store them indoors for the winter in colder regions).
  • Concrete: Concrete containers can take any type of weather. Be careful when placing your concrete planters because they are extremely heavy and even more difficult to move once they’re filled with soil and plants.
  • Wood: Pick a durable wood, like cedar or nontoxic treated pine. To help them last longer, brush all surfaces with a clear waterproofing sealer labeled for use on outdoor wood.
  • Metal: Galvanized tubs and buckets are great options for container gardens. However, beware when using a metal container because they will heat up quickly in the sun and cook your plants. To protect the plants, line the container with garden fabric and place it in a shady spot.
  • Plastic, Fiberglass, or Resin: These types of containers can be made to look like just about any other type of container (but at a lower price and lighter weight). They aren’t as high quality and won’t last forever, but they can accomplish a certain look.
  • Repurposed Containers: Choose old baskets, tin buckets, birdbaths, and watering containers to house your favorite plants. The thrifted look is stylish and rustic.

2. Limit the Number of Plants You Use

Be careful not to overfill a container garden. If the plants are overcrowded, growth can be stunted above and below the soil. To lessen the chances of overfilling a container, you will generally want to follow these pot size-to-plant ratios:

  • 10″ to 12″ pot can house 3-4 plants
  • 14″ to 16″ pot can house 5-7 plants
  • 16″ to 20″ pot can house 6-9 plants

Related: Buyer’s Guide to Plant Containers

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3. Think about Color Schemes and Plant Combinations

Having a color theme for your container garden can help you select a good mix of plants. You can play off the color of your container, or focus on the flowers and foliage of the plants you plan to include. Try to plant in odd numbers, which will give your container a more designed, asymmetrical look. And be sure to keep this rule of thumb in mind when selecting plants for your container: have a thriller, a filler, and a spiller. Combining these three types of plants adds interest and balance to any container garden.

  • Thriller: These plants add height, drama, and a vertical element. Some options include foliage plants, ornamental grasses, or upright flowering plants. Thrillers typically go near the center of a container.
  • Filler: Fillers tend to be more rounded or mounded plants and serve the purpose of making the container look full. These are generally placed in front of or around the thriller. In a long and narrow container like a window box, fillers are placed midway between the edge of the container and the thriller variety.
  • Spiller: Trailing plants that hang over the edge of the planter are considered spillers. If the container is going to be seen from all sides, be sure that spillers are placed on all sides.

4. Add Small Rocks and Use Potting Soil for Proper Drainage

Once you’ve selected your plants and a container, it’s time to get planting. But first, place a few small rocks on the bottom of your container to aid drainage, making sure not to block up the holes so much that water can’t escape. Pieces of broken clay pots laid over the holes work well, too. Then, fill your container two-thirds full with a potting soil mix—garden soil is usually too heavy, while potting soil makes it easier for containers to drain while retaining enough moisture for roots to absorb. Many mixes even come with some fertilizer already in them to help get your plants established. If you have a really large pot and would like to use less potting mix, turn smaller empty containers upside down and place them on the bottom to take up some space. Then fill around them with potting mix until your container is two-thirds full.

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5. Plant a Few Inches Below the Container’s Rim

When adding plants, give their nursery containers a gentle squeeze around the sides to loosen the root ball enough to slide out—avoid tugging on the plant itself to pull it out, which may damage it. Then, set them on the potting mix so that the top of their root balls are still a couple of inches below the rim of your container—this will make it easier for you to water later. Fill in around them with more potting mix, but keep your plants’ stems no deeper in soil than when they were in their nursery containers. Press down lightly around the plants with your hands to eliminate any air pockets. Water your container garden to help the soil settle in, and add more soil if needed so that all roots are covered. Just make sure to keep the soil level a couple of inches below the rim of the container to help prevent water from spilling out whenever you pour some in.

6. Monitor Your Container’s Moisture Level

Keeping your newly created container adequately watered helps the plants settle in and start growing roots. After that first watering, check back in a day or two to see if the first inch or so of soil is dry to the touch. If it’s dry, it’s time to water again. You’ll know you’ve given your container enough water when it runs out the bottom drainage hole. If you choose to use a saucer under the pot, make sure to keep it emptied so that the plant roots do not rot when sitting in the collected water.

Related: Our Top 10 Container Gardening Tips

Plant Combination Ideas for Containers in the Shade

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Focus on Foliage

Don’t be afraid to mix up different types of plants such as annuals, perennials, vegetables, and even small shrubs. The important thing is to choose ones that all prefer the same light conditions. In this container, a dwarf Alberta spruce provides height as a somewhat understated thriller, so we paired it with an artichoke as a more dramatic thriller with its silvery, serrated leaves. The hostas act as fillers, along with asparagus fern and browallia. Creeping Jenny and English ivy take the role of spillers. All of these different plants do well in a part shade location.

  • ‘Green Globe’ artichoke
  • Dwarf Alberta spruce
  • ‘Goldi’ creeping Jenny
  • ‘Squiggle Leaf’ hosta
  • English ivy
  • Browallia
  • Asparagus fern

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Go Dark and Bold

Deep greens and purples add depth, even in shady places. This arrangement echos the look of the container with dark, boldly textured foliage from ligularia (thriller) as well as fillers such as heuchera, coleus, and alternathera. A spiller of lobelia, along with a silvery filler of Japanese painted fern, helps to set off the darker plants in this container garden.

  • ‘Fanal’ astilbe
  • ‘Regal Red’ Japanese painted fern
  • ‘Obsidian’ heuchera
  • ‘Red Threads’ alternanthera
  • Lobelia
  • ‘Brit Marie Crawford’ ligularia
  • Coleus

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Pastel and White Container

Brighten up a shady nook with both a light-colored container and plants that feature white or pastel-colored foliage and flowers. Caladium is definitely the thriller in this container garden, thanks to its large leaves with dramatic patterns and tall stems. For fillers, euphorbia adds delicate texture as well as flowers that continue the white color theme, while begonias bring in ivory and blush hues that mimic the finish of the container. Dichondra makes a fine spiller with its dangling stems of pale, silvery foliage.

  • Caladium
  • ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra
  • ‘Nonstop Mix’ begonia
  • ‘Waterfalls Angel Falls Soft Pink’ begonia
  • ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia

Related: Our Favorite Shade Container Garden Ideas

Plant Combination Ideas for Containers in the Sun

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Bronze and Red Composition

The color red carries through this container in both foliage and flowers. The bronze glaze of the container brings out similar warm hues in the foliage of the sweet potato vine (spiller), copper leaf plant (filler), and canna (thriller).

  • ‘Bossa Nova Orange’ begonia (sun loving)
  • Coleus (sun loving)
  • Tropicanna canna
  • Copper leaf plant (Acalypha wilkesiana)
  • Red Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’)
  • ‘SolarPower Red’ sweet potato vine

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Mix Warm Colors

This combination is inspired by the warm colors of a sunset. The yellow container brings out the canna flowers (thriller) and calibrachoa (spiller). The salvia and firecracker plant (both thrillers), plus lantana (filler) heat things up even more with their fiery flowers. Two varieties of sweet potato vine add bright foliage as spillers.

  • ‘Margarita’ sweet potato vine
  • ‘SolarPower Lime’ sweet potato vine
  • Canna
  • ‘Superbells Lemon Slice’ calibrachoa
  • ‘Bandana Cherry Sunrise’ lantana
  • ‘Saucy Coral’ salvia
  • Firecracker plant

Related: Heat-Loving Container Garden Plants

How to Plant in Pots

To balance form and proportion in a pot, Ellen Zachos, owner of Acme Plant Stuff in New York City, which creates and maintains container gardens, relies on her own catchy recipe of “thrillers, fillers, and spillers.” Thrillers are tall plants that go in the center or back, fillers are medium-size plants that fill out the middle, and spillers gracefully trail or cascade over the edge to soften the pot’s hard edges.”Resist the urge to crowd in too many different things,” says Ellen ­Zachos, who likes to stick to three to five types, tops. “A lot of plants are fine, but a lot of different kinds of plants starts to look messy.”

Unless you need a deck decoration for a party next weekend, select plants that are relatively small and let them fill out. Avoid buying ones whose roots stuff the nursery container. Dense root balls shed water, so these plants may become parched once you repot them, even if you water often. Pair up plants that are suited to the same exposure, whether sun, part sun, or shade, and that have similar water requirements.

3. Deal With the Dirt

Since ordinary garden soil is too heavy and can introduce disease, be sure to use a bagged planting mix or a homemade equivalent. Products labeled “potting soil” contain sterilized soil and other ingredients, while “soilless ­mixes” consist mostly of peat moss or peat substitutes, compost, and perlite or vermiculite to keep it loose. Soilless mixes weigh less but dry out faster, but some plants, such as succulents, prefer them. For a homemade batch, mix five parts compost with one part builder’s sand, one part vermiculite or perlite, and one-quarter part dry organic fertilizer. Whichever medium you use, check to see if it contains slow-release fertilizer; if not, consider mixing in some granules at planting time.

Photo by Michael Skott

4. Planting and Maintenance

If you are growing shallow-rooted specimens in tall pots, you might want to fill in the bottom half with lightweight materials such as broken terra-cotta pot shards or Styrofoam packing peanuts. This promotes drainage and prevents waterlogged soil. Start planting in the center or with the largest specimen and work outward, scooping and filling as needed so that the plants wind up with soil at the same level that they had in the original containers—1 to 2 inches below the lip of the pot. Give plants a thorough drink, using a watering can or a soft-spray nozzle on a hose. Check the level of the soil again and add more if necessary. Keep watering often—whenever the soil is dry 2 to 3 inches below the surface—and fertilize regularly (if you haven’t used slow-release beads), following package directions. Clip off spent blossoms or branches that grow too long. With just this minimal maintenance, your container gardens will flourish all summer long, and—depending on what you’ve planted—even beyond.

Where to Find It

Horticultural services:

Gabrielle Whiton, Bainbridge Gardens

Bainbridgegardens

Ellen Zachos, Acme Plant Stuff

Acmeplant.com

Containers and plants:

Bainbridge Gardens; Bainbridge Island, WA

Gardening gloves:

Atlas #370 Nitrile Soft Flex Gloves

Atlas Glove Consumer Products

Bellingham, WA

Lfsinc.com

Clippers:

Forged flower shears

Lee Valley Tools

Leevalley.com.

For further reading:

Down & Dirty: 43 Fun & Funky First Time Projects & Activities to Get You Gardening by Ellen Zachos

Storey Publishing

North Adams, MA

Storey.com

How to Plant a Container Garden

There are many uses for container gardening. Your outdoor living area might be a small balcony. Maybe you have a yard and a garden, but want to decorate your patio with plants or keep an herb garden by the kitchen door. You could be a new gardener wisely hesitant to turn over a huge plot in the backyard, or you might have limited time due to family and work obligations. Perhaps your soil is less than optimal, but you still want a garden while you improve it with soil amendments. Containers can help you garden, no matter what the obstacles are!

Containers and soil

A container can be any vessel that holds soil and has drainage holes. This could be something purchased at a nursery or hardware store, but you can scour flea markets, yard sales, and thrift stores for one-of-a-kind finds. Consider color, shape, size, and style to either match your décor or create an eclectic design.

Your soil needs to hold water, yet have good drainage. Gardening is sometimes a paradox! Most commercial potting soil mixes work well with container plantings, but if you are using succulents, you will need a sandy cactus mix. Shop at a reputable nursery, and ask the staff for the best organic soil for your purposes.

It’s also easy and inexpensive to make your own potting mix.

Design

As in any garden design, you need to consider plant characteristics, such as shape, color, height, texture, and bloom time (for perennials). The plants in one container need to have the same light and water requirements. If you put a cactus in a pot with water and shade loving impatiens, you will surely kill it.

Design for visual interest and impact, with dramatic contrasts in color, size, and texture. Group several containers together for a large display full of variety.

Tall plants go to the back of the container, with mid-size and border plants in the front. If the container is to be viewed from all sides, the tallest plants go in the center, surrounded by the shorter ones. Extend the vertical line with plants that drape over the edge. Check out these design ideas!

Use companion planting guidelines to add herbs and flowers to vegetable containers. Certain plants thrive growing together, benefiting each other with nutrients, shade, and pest repellents.

Planting and maintenance

When you have all your materials gathered, it’s time to plant! Put some gravel in the bottom of your container, and fill with soil, tamping it a bit. The top of the plant’s soil ball needs to be at the top of the soil in the container. Leave an inch at the top for watering. Tamp the soil after the plants are in place, and water gently.

If you are going to cluster your containers together, consider a drip irrigation system to water them. If you hand water, do so every morning, but once the plants are large and summer is hot, they will probably need watering in the evening, too. A little afternoon shade will keep them from drying out too quickly.

No matter what your situation is, you can have a garden, even if it’s one container. Greenery improves our sense of well-being, and connects us to nature, so it’s worth your while to start gardening organically in containers!

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How to Repot Your Hibiscus

Hibiscus is a gorgeous plant with beautiful foliage and amazing flowers. You can grow it both in the ground and in a container so it can live both indoors and outdoors. It means that many people can grow it in their home or garden. Hibiscus is a great plant that will add a bit of a tropical feel to your home. A great thing is that there are many different varieties to choose from. This is great because you can choose the one that suits your needs perfectly.

Hibiscus can grow in a limited space such as a container. This plant is very tolerant to cramped space to grow its roots. However, it will outgrow its container at one point, so this is something you need to worry about.

Once your hibiscus becomes too big for its own container, it’s time to repot it. This is not particularly difficult but you need to do it carefully so you don’t harm your plant or its roots.

Does My Hibiscus Need Repotting?

Before you move your hibiscus in a new container make sure to check if it really needs repotting. You should not move a plant to a new container unless it’s ready. Hibiscus plants can grow in containers just fine, so you should never assume that it needs repotting. It is important to know how to recognize the signs that your hibiscus is ready for repotting.

The best way to check this is to look at the drain holes in the container. If the roots are protruding through the holes your hibiscus is ready to be repotted. It means that the container is getting too small for its roots.

To be completely sure, try to loosen your hibiscus in its container and lift it up. This will allow you to take a better look at its roots. A clear sign that your hibiscus needs repotting is if you see that the roots are packed tightly together. Also, they may form a pot-shaped circle that is very tight. All of these are clear signs that your hibiscus needs repotting.

Tools and Materials

Here are the basic tools and materials you’ll need for repotting your hibiscus:

  • New container
  • Growing medium (potting soil or soilless medium)
  • Sharp knife or scissors
  • Pruning clippers
  • Mulch (organic or decorative)

Repotting Your Hibiscus

It is relatively easy to repot your hibiscus. All you need to do is to prepare all the tools you need and follow a few simple steps. Before you start, however, make sure you are doing it at the right time. You should never repot your hibiscus in the winter since it would take your plant too long to recover from the process.

Here are the steps for repotting your hibiscus plant:

  1. Choose a good container. It is important to pick the right container for your hibiscus. If you want your hibiscus to stay at the same size as it is now, you may choose a container that is about the same height and diameter as the present one, just with a bit of space added (a few inches the most). If you want your hibiscus to grow more, pick a bigger container. However, keep in mind that you should not choose a container that is way too big. It is not good to jump from a crowded container to a huge one. When choosing a new container for your hibiscus, make sure to pick the one that has a lot of drainage holes or channels. In case the drainage holes on the container are too large, you can add a small piece of screen to the bottom. This will prevent the soil (or another potting medium) from running out of the pot when you water your hibiscus. Also, the best containers for hibiscus plants are the ones that have about the same height and width.
  2. Add medium. You should add about 2 inches of potting soil or soilless growing medium. Make sure to moisten it with water. It is best to use light growing medium that will drain well. It is also important to choose a medium that has at least some organic component. A good choice for a potting medium is potting soil made for hanging plants. This one typically has good drainage and will work great for your hibiscus.
  3. Remove your hibiscus from the old container. Make sure to loosen your hibiscus carefully. It is important not to hurt your plant or its roots during this process. Gently, lift the hibiscus and shake it. It is important to be very careful during shaking so you don’t hurt your plant. You need to shake it to remove the old soil (or another potting medium). There is typically a lot of it attached to the roots. However, it is very important to do this gently.
  4. Loosen tangled roots. Since the hibiscus has been growing in a container that is too small, expect plenty of tangled roots. You need to loosen them before you repot your plant. You can loosen them with your fingers, just make sure to be gentle. In some situations, the roots may be tightly wound together and impossible to loosen them. In this case, you can slice through them with a sharp knife. After this, simply continue untangling the roots.
  5. Prune the roots. You need to do this if you wish your plant to stay about the same size. Prune about 1/3 of the roots. If you prune this much you can actually repot your hibiscus into the same size container as the old one. However, in most situations, it’s best to use a container that is at least a bit bigger than the previous one. In case you want to repot your hibiscus into a larger container and make it grow even bigger, all you need to do is to trim away broken roots. In this case, make sure not to prune too much.
  6. Place your hibiscus into the new container. Be careful while doing this so you don’t hurt the plant or its roots. It is important to make sure that the hibiscus is not deeper in the new container than it was in the old one. It means that the top of the root ball should be about 2 to 4 inches below the rim of the container. If this isn’t the case, simply add or take out some soil (or another growing medium you use) to raise or lower your hibiscus in the container. Once the plant is in the optimum depth, simply add the rest of the growing medium in the container. Once you fill the container with the growing medium you need to make it settle around the root ball. To do this, simply tap the container on the counter or lightly shake it. It will help the growing medium settle around the root ball. If needed, add more growing medium for proper height. This will prevent the growing medium from running out of the top of the container when you water your plant.
  7. Water your hibiscus. Once it’s repotted, you need to water your hibiscus thoroughly. Make sure not to overwater it, though. At the same time, keep in mind that your plant needs water at this moment so don’t just sprinkle it around the base. You need to water it thoroughly.
  8. Add mulch. Once the watering is done, spread about 1 to 2 inches of mulch around the base of the plant. You can use organic or decorative mulch for this purpose. Make sure to place it on the top of the growing medium. The mulch will help conserving moisture. Leaf and bark mulch seem to work the best since they look attractive and they can add some nutrients to the container as they decompose.

Once your hibiscus is repotted and watered, make sure to move it to a place without bright, direct sunlight for a few days. You need to keep it there so it can recover and establish itself. After a few days, you can place it back where it was before repotting or you can find a new location for it. Whatever you do, however, make sure to choose a place with plenty of sun.
Photo credit: Maria & Philippe Dans un jardin via photopin (license)

How To Care For Hibiscus Plants

Growing hibiscus is an easy way to add a tropical flair to your garden. When you know how to care for hibiscus plants, you will be rewarded with many years of lovely flowers. Let’s look at some tips on how to care for hibiscus.

Many people who are growing a hibiscus plant choose to do so in a container. This allows them to move the hibiscus plant to ideal locations, depending on the time of year. Provide the plants with at least six hours of sunlight, especially if you want to see those lovely blooms. Although warm, humid conditions are ideal for tropical hibiscus, you may want to provide a little afternoon shade when it’s overly hot. Again, containers make this easy to do.

Hibiscus plants prefer a cozy fit when growing in a container. This means that they should be slightly root bound in the pot and when you do decide to repot, give the hibiscus only a little bit more room. Always make sure that your growing hibiscus plant has excellent drainage.

Temperatures for Growing Hibiscus

When you care for a hibiscus, you should remember that hibiscus flower best in temperatures between 60-90 F. (16-32 C.)and cannot tolerate temps below 32 F. (0 C.). In the summer, your hibiscus plant can go outside, but once the weather starts to get near freezing, it’s time for you to bring your hibiscus indoors.

Watering Hibiscus

When hibiscus are in their blooming stage, they require large amounts of water. Your hibiscus will need daily watering in warm weather. But once the weather cools, your hibiscus needs far less water, and too much water can kill it. In the winter, water your hibiscus only when the soil is dry to the touch.

Fertilizing Hibiscus

A growing hibiscus plant needs lots of nutrients in order to bloom well. In the summer, use a high potassium fertilizer. You can either use a diluted liquid fertilizer one a week, a slow release fertilizer once a month or you can add a high potassium compost to the soil. In the winter, you don’t need to fertilize at all.

These are the basics for how to care for hibiscus plants in your garden. As you can see, they are a easy maintenance, high impact flower that will make a garden in any part of the world look like a tropical paradise.

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