How to winter hibiscus

Wintering Hibiscus Indoors: Winter Care For Hibiscus

Nothing adds a lovely tropical flare quite like a tropical hibiscus. While hibiscus plants will do fine outdoors in the summer in most areas, they need to be protected in the winter. Wintering hibiscus is easy to do. Let’s look at the steps for hibiscus winter care.

Who Should be Over Wintering Hibiscus?

If where you live gets more than a few days a year below freezing (32 F.), you should store your hibiscus indoors for the winter.

Location Indoors for Hibiscus Winter Care

Hibiscus are not picky when it comes to indoor storage. Keep in mind, when you take care of a hibiscus indoors, their summer, flower covered glory will quickly fade. Unless you have an atrium or greenhouse, your hibiscus will most likely start to look less than stellar before spring returns. It is best to

find a place to care for the hibiscus that will be out of the way as long as you are wintering hibiscus in a place that stays warmer than 50 F., gets some light and where you will remember to water it.

Watering Tips for Care for Hibiscus in the Winter

The first thing to remember about hibiscus winter care is that hibiscus in the winter will need less water than it does in the summer. While watering is essential to your year round care for hibiscus, in the winter, you should only water the plant when the soil is dry to the touch.

If you water more than this, you may damage the roots. This will cause a significant number of yellow leaves on your hibiscus.

Wintering Hibiscus – Yellow Leaves Normal?

You can expect to see a moderate amount of yellow leaves on your hibiscus when you take care of a hibiscus indoors over the winter. This is normal, and the plant is acting normally. If all the leaves have fallen off but the branches are still pliable, your hibiscus has just gone into full dormancy. At this time, you may want to place it in a cool dark place and allow it to stay dormant.

These yellow leaves are why you will want to find an out of the way place to care for hibiscus trees in the winter. But the benefit for taking the time to take care of a hibiscus over the winter is that you will have a larger and lovelier plant in the summer than you could ever buy in the store.

Wintering Tropical Hibiscus


Hibiscus Plant Care

A Good Bloom Day in a House in Winter

For hibiscus lovers in the northern states, winter comes early, and so does the time to start figuring out how best to protect our hibiscus plants through the cold months. The most important consideration for tropical plants like hibiscus is staying warm in winter. Heat is more important than light or anything else, so let’s take a look at some good ways to provide heat to hibiscus in winter.

First and Foremost ~ Hygiene

First, before you do any moving, thoroughly wash your hibiscus. It is best to wash them several times before moving them inside, to make sure no stray pests have hopped onto them. Moving hibiscus is stressful to the plants, and any stress makes it harder for hibiscus to fight off pest attacks. Plus, indoor environments are cozy and wonderful for certain pests, like the obnoxious spider mite. So wash, wash, wash your plants to make sure you leave all pests outside. Spray every plant thoroughly with a strong spray of water, all sides of every leaf, stem, and branch. You don’t need soap or anything else, just water and lots of it. Wash your plants once or twice a week for 2-3 weeks before moving your plants inside. Then on the last washing, add horticultural oil to your water. It’s easiest to just pop a hose-end spray bottle onto your hose. Spray the plants heavily and thoroughly with the horticultural oil and water, then move them inside as soon as they dry on the last washing day.

Second ~ Don’t Stop Fertilizing!

If you stop fertilizing your hibiscus over the winter, they will go more deeply into dormancy and decline, and it will be much slower and more difficult to wake them up in the spring. It is very important to keep fertilizing through the winter months. If you use our Special-Blend Fertilizer, you will naturally water less in the winter, so you will naturally also use less fertilizer, which is perfect for your hibiscus. If you use a timed-release fertilizer, it will release more slowly in colder weather because the release rate is controlled by temperature. Your hibiscus are less actively growing and metabolizing in the winter, so they need less fertilizer, but they do need some fertilizer all winter long.

Overwintering in Cold Climates

Move them into the House

The place where hibiscus can stay warm without any extra cost is in your house. Although hibiscus are considered outdoor plants in the United States, in many parts of the world they are very popular houseplants, except for 2-3 months during summer when the pots may be set outdoors. Indoor hibiscus make attractive, green houseplants. They help clean the air trapped inside in winter, and give off extra oxygen. The greenery provides a wonderful backdrop to the drab and dreary weather of winter in many locations. And, every now and then, one of the hibiscus plants will bloom, providing a special indoor splash of color and beauty for that day.

Unless you live in Canada or northern Europe, you may not be accustomed to having hibiscus as houseplants, but they are easy to grow and quite suitable for indoor use. In the far north, or any place where temperatures regularly fall below freezing during winter nights, tropical hibiscus will perish if left outdoors. Bringing them inside the house is an easy solution to overwintering them, but how best to do it?

Overwintering in the House
Hibiscus ‘Wild Grape’

One of the potential problems is the size of the plants. Small hibiscus plants can grow very large by the end of summer. The simple solution to this is also good for the hibiscus – prune them back. You can reduce their size by as much as 50 percent without damaging them. More typically we cut the stems back by about 30 percent, but hibiscus are quite adaptable and will accept even severe pruning. So go ahead and reduce them to the size you need for them to fit well inside the house. Just be careful to leave some new growth and several older leaves on the plant after the pruning. Since it is winter and light is low, the hibiscus will grow back slowly, and should not grow large enough by winter’s end to become a problem in their indoor location. The idea is for them to get a headstart on growing back during the slow growing season of winter, and then to rapidly grow to blooming size once they are placed outdoors in spring or early summer.

The other main problem with placing hibiscus inside the house is finding space where there is adequate light. The closer to windows, the better for this purpose. But remember, hibiscus need warmth even more than they need light. So even if you only have room well away from windows, the hibiscus will do better there than if left outside or in an unheated garage. People have reported to us that directing just a little extra light to hibiscus in winter helps them stay green and healthy. A lamp placed nearby will help tremendously in a warm but rather dark area. What matters for hibiscus is the total amount of light they receive each day, so if the area tends to be dark you can leave a light on as much as 24 hours a day to help the hibiscus get what they need.

Garage, Shed, or Utility Room

If moving your hibiscus into the house is just not for you, then the next best strategy is to look for another solid structure where they can be kept over the winter. A garage, storage shed, utility room, or any other structure that keeps out cold wind and provides some protection against the winter weather can be made to work. Again, the goal is to provide as much warmth as possible and at least some light to keep the hibiscus going. A structure with windows that allows sunlight to enter is ideal, because the light will heat up the interior during the day and also provide the light energy needed by the hibiscus.

Hibiscus Protected from Mild Freeze –
Strung with Christmas Lights,
Covered with Freeze Cloth
Fastened with Clothespins

Even inside a shelter, in some colder climates night-time temperatures can drop well below freezing. If possible place a small heater in the structure for use on those cold nights. Even better is a heater with a thermostat that you set to go on at 40°F (4°C) or higher. Small space heaters equipped with thermostats are usually inexpensive, so this doesn’t have to be a large expense. If you can afford to keep the structure as high as 65°F (19°C) the hibiscus will thrive. But with energy costs these days that much heat may not be affordable. The idea is to find the highest temperature you can afford to maintain, then set the thermostat to that temperature. Even 35°F (2°C) will help the hibiscus a great deal compared to allowing the temperature to fall below freezing.


Buying or building a greenhouse is the ultimate way to protect your hibiscus over the winter. These are wonderful additions to a property, and a good one will provide all sorts of opportunities to enjoy hibiscus year round. Whether you build your own or order one from one of the many greenhouse companies, such structures allow for year round growth and fresh flowers if heated to at least 60°F (15°C) during the winter.

One benefit of greenhouses is that they trap the rays of the early morning sun and heat the inside of the greenhouse far more rapidly than the outside air warms up. The greenhouse also reaches a much higher temperature during the day than the outside air. For instance, on a cold sunny day in a warmer climate zone, the temperature outside might be 35°F (2°C) at dawn, 50°F (10°C) by noon, and peak at 60°F (15°C) briefly in the afternoon. Compare that to the greenhouse temperature that, if unheated at night, will also be 35°F (2°C) at dawn, but reach 50°F (10°C) by 10 AM, 75°F (24°C) by noon, and peak over 80°F (26°C) during the afternoon. Similarly, the temperatures drop again rapidly at night outside, but in the greenhouse remain warmer for many hours before eventually matching the outside temps shortly before sunrise. With a heated greenhouse, the same thing happens but in addition to the warmth of trapping the sun’s rays in daytime, you also help the plants by keeping the temperatures at night at 60°F (15°C) or at whatever you set the thermostat for.

In a cold climate where heating costs are very high, most hibiscus can survive if temperatures stay at or above 35°F (2°C), but warmer is better. If you can afford to keep your greenhouse at or above 40°F (5°C), it will be much better for hibiscus. Every few degrees of extra warmth will mean healthier and happier hibiscus, so find the level that you can afford. Also, consider the duration of the cold temperatures. Sustained cold temperatures that last for many hours and/or many days or weeks will do more damage to hibiscus than an occasional dip into low temperatures for a short amount of time.

The ability to trap heat inside a greenhouse is so good that on warm sunny days the temperature will rise too high – even over 100°F (38°C) on some days. You need to build your greenhouse with sufficient windows and doors so that you can allow heat to escape on sunny warm days by opening them to the outside air. The main downside to greenhouses is that they involve an investment of money and time to build. If you decide to make this investment, it will pay off in great fun and success with winter growing of hibiscus outdoors.

Get creative!

Hibiscus Blooming Indoors at Christmas

Some hibiscus lovers use their office space to grow hibiscus during the winter months. Or perhaps a relative or friend has a suitable space where you can winter your hibiscus. Avoid using a space that is too far from where you normally spend time, because the hibiscus will need to be checked on at regular intervals, mainly for watering.

Overwintering in Warmer Climates

If you live in a warmer climate, where temperatures rarely fall below freezing, and when they do it is only for one or two nights before warming up again, then you may be able to winter your hibiscus outside by providing some simple protection measures. If your area has a history of having fewer than ten nights per year that fall into the high 20’s (-2°C to -1°C) or above and no nights colder than that, you have the possibility of protecting your hibiscus outdoors.

One of the best ways to protect outdoor hibiscus that are planted in the ground is to mulch over the root zone and around the main stem of the plant. A thick layer of leaves or compost can help protect the roots and keep them from freezing at night. This goes only so far though. For more protection, wrap the entire hibiscus bush in heavy frost cloth. This can add several degrees of freeze protection for the plants. In addition, you can run outdoor Christmas lights up under the frost cloth. During cold nights the lights can be turned on and the small amount of heat they give off will add several more degrees of warmth under the frost cloth. We have seen hibiscus bushes treated this way survive winters where temperatures reached as low as 25°F (-4°C). A fully exposed hibiscus is usually severely damaged or killed by nights in the mid-20s (-5°C – -3°C), but just this amount of protection will prevent most frost damage.

Potted hibiscus in areas with just a few light freezes can be protected in other ways too. The pots can be moved up next to the house which will add a few degrees of warmth for them. A south or west wall with sun exposure during the day is another good place to locate the pots. Placing hibiscus under solid overhangs or under trees with thick canopies that prevent heat from radiating out into space at night also offers cold night protection. Some people report successful protection by tipping their potted hibiscus over on their sides and covering them with tarps or frost cloth on cold nights. Running Christmas lights under the tarps would afford even more protection.

Surviving an Unexpected Freeze

If your hibiscus are caught outside and unprotected by a sudden nighttime freeze, you can take action during the night to save them. This is a bad situation to be in, but does happen occasionally even in the mildest climates. It happened to us a few winters ago, and we used this strategy to save our hibiscus. We keep a temperature sensor outside in the hibiscus garden that radios the temperature to an indoor display so we can monitor the temperatures the hibiscus experience. This sounds exotic, but it is actually a simple device that is widely available at garden centers, costs well under $50, and runs on batteries.

One night a few winters ago, we watched in dismay as the temperature dropped to freezing, then below freezing and showed no signs of stabilizing. By midnight it had dropped to 27°F (-3°C) and there was no way to protect our in-the-ground hibiscus. We had heard that simply running sprinklers on tropical plants could protect them from a freeze, and we decided to try it since we were sure our hibiscus would not make it through this very cold night without serious damage. So we went outside and turned on all our sprinklers. Soon all the hibiscus were being sprayed by the pop-up sprinkler system that was originally installed to water the lawn. How could this help, you ask? Well, the water coming up out of the pipes below the ground is considerably warmer than freezing. As this relatively warm water fell on the hibiscus and coated them, it protected them with a blanket of warm water. However, it was so cold that night that the water began to freeze on the leaves! We watched in horror as more and more ice built up on the plants, certain that we would lose all our hibiscus. Our sprinkler idea certainly looked disastrous, but it turned out to be protective. The continuous spray of water kept the ice temperature right at 32°F (0°C) and prevented it from dropping any lower. At 32°F (0°C) for only a few nighttime hours, the sap inside the hibiscus didn’t freeze. I left the sprinklers going until the air temperature rose above freezing the next morning and the ice melted off the hibiscus. Yes, we had a wet mess in the garden, and yes we wasted some water, but most of our hibiscus only sustained minor damage from that night and grew back the following summer as if they had never been through a hard freeze. We do not recommend this technique except in an emergency! But if you are ever faced with an unexpected hard freeze and unprotected hibiscus, a spray of water from sprinklers or hose will help keep the sap from freezing and prevent serious damage or death.

Older is Better

Tropical hibiscus can be grown and kept safe through winter, even in areas where freezing weather occurs. Remember, the main principle is to provide them with as much warmth as you can along with as much light as is practical in the warm area you place them in. The older the plants are the tougher they are in winter. We don’t worry at all about our 10-year-old and older hibiscus. Their thick woody main trunk and stems are not much affected by minor frosts and freezes and they are able to grow new shoots to replace any damaged ones each summer. The biggest challenge is with hibiscus experiencing their first winter. For these plants we recommend an indoor, warm location whenever possible. If you provide the warmth, they will repay you with much beauty and enjoyment for years to come!

While the flowers on these pages may be very enticing, you may look out your window, see snow and ice, and wish you were living in south Florida, Hawaii, Singapore or some other tropical area where you could grow tropical hibiscus.

Tropical hibiscus need a lot of light to bloom and perform well. Full sun from dawn to dusk may be too much during summer, but during short winter days, they need all the light they can get. Even with a lot of light and ideal temperature and humidity during the winter, they will likely bloom and grow less.

Before we get into it, many people want to know, “How do I tell if I Have a Hardy Hibiscus or a Tropical Hibiscus?” and “Will My Hibiscus Overwinter Outside?”

You need to know which one you have. Unfortunately, garden centers, nurseries and home improvement centers lump all hibiscus together.

If your hibiscus has glossy deep green leaves, 3-6″ flowers of red, pink, orange, yellow, double or single flowers, it is probably a TROPICAL hibiscus. While many common garden varieties have the 3-6″ blooms, many of the hybrid varieties of tropical hibiscus can have blooms around 10″ in diameter under ideal conditions.

Another way to check is if the flowers are salmon, peach, orange, or yellow, or double flowered, then you probably have a TROPICAL hibiscus. Hardy hibiscus do not come in these colors or in doubles! Many tropical hibiscus flowers have more than one color in a bloom either in bands or as spots.

If your hibiscus has dull medium green heart shaped leaves, dinner plate sized white, pink or red flowers with HUGE, bomb shaped buds (2-4″ in length!), it is a perennial, hardy hibiscus.

Hardy hibiscus need very little care over the winter, they are root hardy to about zone 5 with no protection. They die to the ground each year.

If you have a tropical hibiscus, remember it is a TROPICAL. They will not tolerate more than a night or two of light freezes. Even one hard freeze (below 25) could kill the plant. These plants are native to sunny, warm and usually humid tropical places.

They detest cold, rainy weather and cold, wet soil. They will not reliably survive outdoors north of zone 9. In all other areas, it may be a good idea to bring them indoors BEFORE temps regularly drop below 40-45 F at night to avoid any damage.

Treating your tropical hibiscus correctly will give you years of enjoyment. But remember, they are not immortal! Some are spent after 4 or 5 years in a pot and should be tossed away at this point. Try some of the many and never ending new hybrids being developed!

Getting Tropical Hibiscus Ready to Come Inside in the Fall/Overwintering Indoors

If you want to keep your hibiscus and grow them again the next season, you will need to bring them indoors before the night temps drop much below 40° F. They will need a bright or sunny area, or under fluorescent lights. The optimum temperatures indoors seem to be between 55 and 70. The cooler end of that temperature range will produce far fewer insect problems later in the winter. If they are kept in a greenhouse, keep them cool (55-65) and water when they are dry.

Ideally if you want to bring your hibiscus indoors to over winter them, they should be grown in pots outside all season, not planted directly in the ground. The problem with planting in the ground is that when you dig them up in the fall, they are weakened by yanking them out of the ground and many times they will rot before they produce new roots in a pot. They should be kept in relatively small pots for years (10-14″ in diameter is fine). You can even sink the potted plants in the ground in summer and then just pull them up , pot and all in the fall, wash off the pot and bring it inside easily with no shock to the plant in fall.

  • Before you bring them inside, cut back your plant(s) quite a bit, to within 4-5″ of the main stems. This does a few things: it will help eliminate the bugs and insects that hide in the plants BEFORE they get inside. They like to hang out in the tips of the branches, in the newest growth. Also remove any dead leaves, stems., old flowers or debris in the pots, or on the plants.
  • If you want the best chance of having healthy, vigorous plants with flowers next summer, your plants need to rest indoors during the shorter days from October till Feb. or March. DO NOT push them to keep blooming indoors and leave them full of old foliage.
  • After cutting back your plants, but before they come inside, be sure and hose them down , making sure to blast the stems, under the leaves, etc. Let them dry thoroughly and bring them inside. This will eliminate the need for any insecticide at all. if you must spray, insecticidal soaps and neem oil work well. Drench the upper and lower parts of the leaves, as well as the stems and let dry thoroughly outside for a day or so before they come inside.
  • The leaves will probably turn yellow and fall off when the plants are brought inside, this is normal. They will regrow when they are ready. In the meantime, water very sparingly! Do not keep the soil wet. It is best to let the soil become almost bone dry before soaking it again. Do not let any water sit under the plants in saucers, etc.
  • Your plants will rest and may not produce new leaves until late February or March. This is normal too.
  • Realize that many times, hibiscus never bloom well again after the 1st winter inside. There is not much you can do about this. It appears that the generic grocery store, Costco, Home Depot, etc., hibiscus tend to not bloom well again after the 1st season. The new large flowered hybrids seem to perform much better year after year. This is an observation based on my experiences over wintering hibiscus. Your hibiscus experience may vary.
  • The other option is to buy some new hibiscus each year, enjoy their prolific flowers for the summer and toss them in the fall. That way, you are guaranteed lots of flowers each summer.

There are people who grow these plants year ’round in the northern U.S. and Canada, Sweden and NOT using green houses! Unless you take some extra steps, such as using artificial lighting, you can’t expect the same lush growth and bloom quantity when your plants are spending their winters inside and under less than tropical conditions. But, they will be ready to reward you for your efforts once they are outside again and the warm weather arrives. (However, if you do have a greenhouse…)

If you aren’t too far north, building this will help and is easy to do.
There are reports of another way of over-wintering these tropical plants.

Tropical Hibiscus and Their Environment: Gimme Shelter
Insect and Disease Problems: Don’t Bug Me, I’m Already Sick
Watering and Moisture Tips: Water You Doing to Your Plant?
Potting and Containers: The Heart and Soil of the Plant
Repotting and Fertilization: Feeding the MassesGetting Ready for Summer: Living in ParadiseWinter Care: A Shower a Day (or at least occasionally), Keeps the Aphids at Bay!

Tropical Hibiscus and Their Environment: Gimme Shelter

Since several hours of temperatures below freezing can be deadly to hibiscus, before the mercury drops, growers move their potted plants to an inside location where they will get, perhaps, 3 or 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. (Supplementing with artificial light (please visit) may also be an option.) Here they will stay for a few months. Some leaves may turn yellow and drop and some buds may fall during the adjustment period. If chemical sprays are used to control insects, these need to be used before the move

Feel free to prune your hibiscus to fit the space where it be indoors. It is not important WHERE you make the cuts, as long as they are made cleanly with a sharp pruner. Just remember that you will not see much (if ANY) new growth from this pruning.The hibiscus growth slows down considerably during the late summer/fall and winter.

This is also a good reason NOT to repot in the fall. The hibiscus will not generate new roots easily at this time of year and will probably suffer from root rot before it gets re-established.

Insect and Disease Problems: Don’t Bug Me, I’m Already Sick

Once inside, soaps, such as castile and Murphy Oil Soap or unscented liquid dishwashing detergents such as Dawn are used in a one tbspn per gallon of water solution. Soaps are probably more effective and work differently from detergents. Big pots are recommended. Nothing smaller than a 10″ pot. Using 14″ pots, hibiscus have been known to thrive for almost 10 years.

Watering and Moisture Tips: Water You Doing to Your Plant?

Don’t over-water, keep on the dry side, but remember that indoor air may have a drying effect because of low humidity. Misting the leaves at least daily is desirable in most instances. It may also be helpful to place each pot on a large tray containing gravel. Fill the tray with water up to the top of the gravel. As the water evaporates from the tray, humidity will be higher around the plants, especially if they are not in drafty areas. Humidifiers are also beneficial.

A small plant with few leaves needs much less water that a big leafy plant. Do NOT over-water!

Potting and Containers: The Heart and Soil of the Plant

The soil in pots is very important. The usual “potting soils” are not recommended. They can be much too heavy and can harden with a few waterings. One recommendation is to use a light soilless mix such as PRO-MIX or Sunshine Mix which is available at most nurseries/garden centers. These are soilless mixtures consisting of perlite, vermiculite, peat moss, with some bark. Jungle Mix, a professional seed starting mix, available from some home/garden centers, also produces good results. Remember that tropical hibiscus do best with very good drainage.

Repotting and Fertilization: Feeding the Masses

In late winter, scrape off the top 2 inches of old potting soil and replace it with fresh soil. You do not have to be gentle; you will be scraping old roots, too. Go for it! Then add Osmocote slow release fertilizer “for indoor plants” per the label instructions. At this same time, prune as severely as you like, using sharp, clean pruners and just above a node. Occasional use of a 20-20-20 water soluble fertilizer is also appropriate. The plants will respond beautifully to this treatment.

Getting Ready for Summer: Living in Paradise

Once the night temperatures are consistently above about 55° F (13° C) or so, you can think about putting your hibiscus outside again.

Here’s a quick list of things to remember:

• gradually expose your hibiscus plant to the outdoors. Place your plant in a shady or protected spot for a few days and then gradually increase the amount of direct sun it receives each day for about 10 days or so. After that, you can move it to it’s final sunny summer spot. If you don’t do this, your hibiscus leaves will fry and sunburn, just as you would if you were out in the hot sun for 8 hours without sunscreen after being indoors all winter.

• prune your plant now if you wish to change the shape or height or induce a bushy flowering plant.

• this is also the time to refresh the soil or repot your plant if needed (rarely- they love to be potbound!)

• once outside, spray down both lower and upper leaf surfaces with the garden hose to remove any indoor dust or bugs. You ‘ll be amazed how it rejuvenates your plant.

• after your plant has been back outdoors for 2 or 3 weeks, you can start to fertilize again with your favorite fertilzer.

• avoid saucers with standing water under your hibiscus plants- they can cause root rot and leaf drop.

It’s perfectly normal for your plant to have yellow leaves or even drop some leaves in response to the stress of going back outside. Different varieties of hibiscus may have their own “personalities” and may not perform uniformly when conditions change.

If you follow these general guidelines, your plants will be happy and thrive for many summers.

Winter Care: A Shower a Day, Keeps the Aphids at Bay!

During the winter indoors, most hibiscus may develop a problem with aphids or white fly. One of the non-chemical ways to help with this is to give your hibiscus a shower!

Cover the top of the pot snugly with aluminum foil or heavy plastic (to keep the soil from washing out and making a mess, also to prevent waterlogging the roots) and make sure that you completely seal off the pot around the stem. Then just stick the plant pot and all in the shower, turn on a low to moderate spray directly on the leaves. Use lukewarm to comfortably warm (NOT HOT!!) water.

If you have a movable shower head or attachment so much the better. Be sure and try to get the undersides of the leaves if you can. You can even turn the pot on its side if you seal the top of the pot with the aluminum foil good and tight (use rubber bands). Do this for about 5-10 minutes.

This may sound extreme, but it sure gives your tired, dusty, buggy plant new life. Even if you do this only once or twice during the winter, you will notice a difference.

It will not eliminate the pests but will certainly control them and your hibiscus will thank you.

If you have questions on these recommendations, you can direct them to the source, Boca Joe, for most of the above information.

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Hibiscus is a tropical plant that needs warmth in the cold weather. In cold weather climates, the plant can be moved indoors or to a greenhouse to protect it. It can be left outdoors in warmer climates, where temperatures seldom drop below freezing. There are methods to use outdoors that protect this tropical plant from the cold.

Hibiscus are known for thier large flowers that come in a variety of colors. There are over 200 species of this plant. They are plants, shrubs, and trees. Native hibiscus known as rose mallow is native to southeastern US. Hardy hibiscus called Rose of Sharon is a shrub. Other types of hibiscus are tropical hibiscus, perennial, and annual. They can be purchased at the local garden center, nurseries, and online at

Who Should Overwinter Hibiscus

Whether you live in a cold or warm climates in the US, winterizing hibiscus keeps the plant healthy. These plants are ideal for an experienced gardener or beginner. Growing them makes an ideal winter hobby. These plants have showy flowers and make stunning indoor and outdoor plants. Gardeners of all ages will enjoy growing these showy plants, trees, or shrubs.

Tips for Winterizing Hibiscus in Cold Climates

Before you move you plant indoors spray the plant with water on the leaves and stems to remove any pests or bacteria. Begin spraying them a few weeks before you plan to move them indoors. Spray with a horticultural oil or miticide spray, before moving inside the home or greenhouse. When you move the plant inside, it is important to keep fertilizing it.

The plant will need less fertilizer in the cold months. Gardeners that live in colder climates grow the plants indoors in pots, and put the hibiscus out in the warmer weather. They make an attractive indoor plant. Hibiscus plants grow large and should be pruned or cut back before bringing inside.

Try to find a place that is warm with adequate light. A sun room, family room, finished basement with sun, or greenhouse is ideal. If the location is dark using light near the plant keeps it healthy and green. Unless you have a greenhouse your home is the ideal location for the winter. Water it regularly to keep it from drying out. Leave it in a sunny spot for at least two to three hours daily.

Tips For Winterizing in Warmer Climates

When you live in a warm climate, with temperatures that rarely drop below freezing you may be able to leave the hibiscus outdoors. Mulching the plant is one of the best ways to protect outdoor plants. A layer of leaves and compost will protect the roots. The bush can be wrapped in a frost cloth for more protection outdoors. This adds several degrees of protection when it freezes.

Some people tip outdoor potted plants on their side and cover with a tarp or frost cloth on very cold nights. Others move the potted plants near the house for extra warmth. A temperature sensor outdoors near the plant helps monitor temperatures. The outdoor temperature sensor sends the temperature to an indoor device.


I have planted a 4 to 5 foot tall Hibiscus tree that has been flowering all summer long. I’ve followed your instructions on care and feeding and I can’t thank you enough. Now that the fall and winter is right around the corner I want to protect this tree. What is the best method? Thanks, your show is great!!

First we need to determine whether you have a tropical hibiscus or a perennial hibiscus. If your plant produces dinner plate sized blooms that are pink, white or red and has large, heart shaped leaves, you have a perennial hibiscus. Perennial hibiscus is cold hardy to zone 5, in Larchmont you are in zone 6.

A tropical hibiscus has small blooms in a wide range of colors and leaves that are dark green and somewhat leathery. These plants are not cold hardy so they need to be moved indoors for the winter. You can prune your plant if it is too large to fit in your home. Don’t worry about where you prune but do use nice, sharp pruners. If you do prune, remember that your plant is going into a dormant period at this time so new growth from the pruning may not occur until next spring. Although it may seem like a kind gesture, don’t repot you hibiscus at this time. Repotting may cause root rot. Position your plants indoors where they will receive three to four hours of direct sunlight. Don’t be discouraged if your plant looks less than happy during this time; you may experience leaf loss. However, next spring when you move the plant back outdoors it will spring back to life in no time, rewarding you with another season of beautiful blooms.

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