When to plant hibiscus?

Can I Plant A Hibiscus Tree Outside? – Knowledgebase Question

There are both tropical and hardy hibiscus, but without seeing the plant or knowing the botanical name, I’m not sure whether it would survive outdoors all winter in your region. The plant should be labeled with the lowest temperature it will tolerate. If it is tropical, you can still grow it. In fact, lots of people grow tropical hibiscus as houseplants during the winter, putting them outdoors for the summer months. Ideally, plants should be allowed to gradually adjust to indoor conditions after growing outdoors all summer. They’re more likely to retain their leaves, and less likely to attract pests. When the daytime temperatures reach a minimum of 60F this spring, gradually acclimate it back to the outdoors by exposing it to a little more sun each day over the course of a week. Reverse the process in fall when you bring it inside.
Hibiscus like average household temperatures and very
bright light. They also want moist, but not soggy soil. Mist the leaves regularly to add some moisture to the air. If the plant gets too leggy, you can pinch back some of the stems. Fertilize during the spring/summer months (March through August as a rule of thumb). Hope this helps!

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Sandy Feather: These steps will help hibiscus survive winter

Saturday, December 22, 2001

Q. I have two hibiscus plants in large pots that I want to keep over the winter. I have them in my garage right now because it has not been that cold. Can I keep them in my basement? There is not much light there. Or would it be better to bring them upstairs near a window? Should I cut them back?

A. Tropical or Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is not winter hardy in our climate and must be brought indoors for the winter. A greenhouse or bright sunroom that maintains a daytime temperature of 65 to 75 degrees would be the ideal place to overwinter your hibiscus. In that situation, it will retain much of its foliage and probably will continue to bloom. Chinese hibiscus is an attractive houseplant if you can give it the very bright light it requires to grow and bloom well indoors. A west- or south-facing window that gets five or six hours of direct sun daily is best.

Send questions to Sandy Feather by e-mail at [email protected] or by regular mail c/o Penn State Cooperative Extension, 400 N. Lexington St., Pittsburgh 15208. Due to volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

Even without ideal conditions, you can keep your hibiscus alive through the winter. A cool (50- to 60-degree) place such as an unheated, attached garage where it can get some light works well. The hibiscus will lose most of its leaves and all of its flower buds when you move it into such a situation. However, the plant should survive the winter and will leaf out in spring when temperatures warm and you can place it outdoors again. Be sure the overwintering location you choose will not fall below 50 degrees. Tropical plants can be damaged by temperatures much lower than that.

Adequate but not excessive watering is important to winter survival. Chinese hibiscus prefers evenly moist soil, but it should drain well to avoid a perpetually waterlogged condition. Conversely, you do not want the soil to dry out to the point where your hibiscus wilts. The pot it is growing in must have drainage holes. How often you water depends on the amount of sun the plant receives indoors; the size of the container it is planted in; the temperature; and the relative humidity in your home. You certainly will not have to water as often as you did when it was actively growing and blooming outdoors.

If you have a very sunny situation indoors where the plant will continue to grow and bloom, it will need to be watered more often than one overwintering in a darker, cooler space. Feel the soil 2 or 3 inches deep, and water when it feels dry. Water from the top until water drains from the holes in the bottom of the pot. Dump excess water out of the saucer so the plant is not standing in it.

If you do have a warm, sunny spot where your hibiscus continues to grow and bloom in the winter months, fertilize once a month with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20. Always follow label directions. When it comes to fertilizing, more is not necessarily better. If your plant is spending the winter in the darker, cooler garage, do not bother to fertilize until you move it outdoors in the spring.

Prune your hibiscus just before you move it back outdoors for the summer. This will encourage a dense, bushy plant. It may have grown leggy during its winter hibernation in response to the lower light levels indoors. While you will remove flower buds and delay blooming when you prune, your hibiscus will be healthier and have a more pleasing shape. New buds will form, and the plant will bloom as it did this past summer.

You can move your Chinese hibiscus outdoors when all danger of frost has passed in the spring, right around Memorial Day. Do not put it out in the full blazing sun right away, however. Gradually acclimate it to brighter sun over a seven- to 10-day period. Move it to a sheltered location such as a porch, or the filtered shade under a tree. Expose it to direct sun a little more every day until it is out in full sun.

Some plants have tiny subtle flowers, so small and hidden you have to seek them out to enjoy them amidst the foliage. Hibiscus is not one of these plants. The flowers of hibiscus are big, brilliant, and show-stopping. They draw the eye (and hummingbirds) with large petals, fancy centers, and vibrant colors. There’s nothing subtle about hibiscus – and that’s probably why so many people love them.

E. S., Tampa FL No photo filter needed – this hibiscus bloom is really that stunning!

Hibiscus is part of the mallow family (Malvaceae). The genus Hibiscus is native to tropical and temperate regions around the world and contains several hundred species, including the popular Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus). But when most people think of hibiscus, they think of the many varieties of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, grown in tropical regions around the world (though native to Asia). This hibiscus has been bred to a variety of cultivars with stunning colors and color blends, some with double flowers, and it seems that new varieties are always popping up to collect and grow.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is a tropical plant, and can’t tolerate freezing temperatures. That doesn’t mean that growing hibiscus is limited to folks in California and Florida, though. Hibiscus does very well planted in large pots that can be brought outdoors for the summer months, and then moved back inside when temperatures begin to fall. Give it as much sun as possible whether you grow hibiscus inside or out, and well-draining soil. Outdoors in zones 9 – 11, hibiscus is fairly drought-tolerant once established, though it may not flower as often during dry spells. Indoors, keep soil moist but not wet for best flowering.

Hibiscus is a shrub, and can get unwieldy in smaller spaces. Prune it as needed, but be aware that hibiscus blooms on new growth, so don’t prune constantly or you’ll never see any flowers. If growing indoors, fertilize once a month or so, and don’t expect much in the way of flowers in the winter (though they can produce blooms year-round, and the sight of a large brilliant hibiscus flower inside when the ground outside is covered with snow is downright thrilling). Outdoors, protect your hibiscus from a day or two of frost or freezes by covering with a sheet or frost cloth. Hibiscus can be bothered occasionally by white fly or aphids – remove them with a hard blast from your garden hose, or spray with an insecticidal oil.

Love flowering shrubs? See our Top 10 list here!

Pruning Perennial Hibiscus – A Guide To Hardy Hibiscus Pruning

Commonly known as hardy hibiscus, perennial hibiscus may look delicate, but this tough plant produces huge, exotic-looking flowers that rival those of tropical hibiscus. However, unlike tropical hibiscus, hardy hibiscus is suitable for planting as far north as USDA plant hardiness zone 4, with very little winter protection.

When it comes to pruning perennial hibiscus, there’s no need for stress. Although this easy-care plant requires very little pruning, regular maintenance will keep it healthy and promote better, bigger flowers. Read on to learn how and when to prune perennial hibiscus.

How to Prune a Perennial Hibiscus

Hardy hibiscus pruning isn’t complicated but there are a few things you should know in order to keep the plant looking its best.

Cut any dead stems or branches down to about 8 to 12 inches (20 cm.) in fall, just before applying a protective cover of mulch. Remove the mulch in spring, when you’re sure there’s no danger of hard freezes. If any branches froze during the winter, cut these to the ground.

When new growth appears, you can trim and shape the plant, as desired. Keep in mind that perennial hibiscus is a slow starter, so don’t worry if no growth is present in early spring. It may take a string of warm days before the plant decides to emerge.

Pinch back growing tips with your fingers when the plant reaches a height of about 6 inches (15 cm.). Pinching will encourage the plant to branch out, which means a bushier plant with more blooms.

Don’t wait too long, as flowers bloom on new growth and pinching too late may delay flowering. However, you can pinch the plant’s growing tips again at 10 to 12 inches (25-30 cm.) if growth appears spindly or thin.

Deadhead wilted blooms throughout the season to keep the plant need and to encourage a longer blooming period. To deadhead, simply pinch the old blooms with your fingernails, or snip them with pruners.

Some types of perennial hibiscus can be rambunctious self-seeders. If this is a concern, be vigilant about deadheading old blooms, which will prevent the plant from setting seed.

How Fast Does a Hibiscus Bush Grow?

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The hibiscus bush is a vibrantly colored perennial that can grow up to 15 feet tall in frost-free locations. The large, showy flowers can be a wide variety of colors or bicolors. Hibiscus bushes are deciduous and have leaves that are dark green in color.

Growth Time Period

The speed of the growth of a hibiscus can vary depending upon multiple factors. These factors include the location where it is planted, how it is propagated and the type of weather conditions that normally occur. Some varieties of hibiscus require as long as 18 months to produce flowers. If the hibiscus is purchased as a mature plant, it normally will bloom the same year it is planted.

Soil and Light Preferences

Hibiscus plants do best in soil that is well-drained. These flowers need to be constantly damp but not soaking wet. If the soil is not rich, compost can be mixed in with the soil used to fill the hole. Hibiscus need to be planted in areas that receive full sun. They also do well in containers that can be placed in full sunlight for several hours every day.

When and How to Plant

The hibiscus plant can be planted at any time during spring, summer or fall. These plants need to be spaced from 3 to 6 feet apart. The hole needs to be only as deep as the root ball. The width should be 2 or 3 times the width of the root ball.


The hibiscus has many varieties. Common garden varieties are usually one solid color. However, tropical hibiscus varieties have more than one color of flower. All varieties of hibiscus are perennials. Some varieties grow to be large bushes or medium-size trees after several years.

Summer’s Showiest Shrub: The Irresistible Hibiscus

To some eyes, the Chinese or Hawaiian hibiscus have never quite fit into the Southern California garden. Their large, lush leaves and big, brilliant flowers seem a tad too tropical for this arid climate, and most of them grow larger than many a garden can accommodate.

But in early summer, when hibiscus appear at nurseries, doubts and caution vanish and hibiscus sell like hot cakes. They’re simply irresistible.

Few flowers are so alluring. They are huge–up to eight inches across–and although a flower lasts but a day, each is quickly replaced by others, so there is no shortage of bloom during the summer and early fall. The flowers’ colors are deep and warm, and their foliage is a deep jungle green.

Though Hibiscus rosa-sinensis apparently originated in tropical Asia, they have been grown in all tropical climates and have become, perhaps more than any other plant, a symbol of the tropics. Can you imagine Hawaii without them?


Hibiscus are truly tropical plants, and that limits how they can be grown in Southern California, since ours is actually a subtropical climate. To make a hibiscus happy, you must supply heat and protection from below-freezing temperatures, although most hibiscus sold in this area will take a few degrees of frost. If you live on the side of a hill–even well inland–where cold air drains to lower elevations, the plants will probably be safe. Sometimes, projecting eaves will provide protection. In most of the Los Angeles Basin, Orange County and the San Diego area, hibiscus will do well if they’re in full, hot sun.

If you aren’t certain whether the temperatures at your location will suffice, you can easily supply extra heat. A south-facing wall is the perfect home for hibiscus. Even near the beach–but out of the ocean breezes–they will bloom beautifully against a south wall. Hibiscus can survive without much heat, but they will bloom poorly and their foliage will tend to look cold and unhappy. Heat will keep the leaves a dark, glossy green.

Fertilizer is important–first, to keep the leaves from yellowing (although yellow between the veins is chlorosis–cured with iron chelate) and to keep the plant growing. Flowers are produced on new growth, so continual growth is important–which brings us back to the matter of size.

In the tropics, hibiscus are tree-sized, but in Southern California, few grow that tall. Although several hibiscus supposedly grow to only four to six feet, it’s best to figure on at least six feet for the following varieties: Bride, California Gold, Crown of Bohemia, Diamond Head, Ecstasy, Golden Dust, Santana and Vulcan. Allow for six to eight feet for Accra, Butterfly, Cherie, Fiesta, Fullmoon, Hula Girl, President, Powder Puff, Red Dragon, Ross Estey (which is the only hibiscus with flowers that last for more than a day) and Sundown. Expect the following to zoom with ease past 10 feet: Agnes Galt, Amour, Brilliant, Empire, Fire Wagon, Itsy Bitsy Pink or White (refers to flower size), Kona Improved, Red Double Dip and White Wings. These figures reflect the height of the plants, but most hibiscus are almost as wide as they are tall.


How fast a hibiscus grows has to do with its eventual size. The big guys grow fast; the shorter varieties are slower. Make sure that you allow enough room. Don’t plant them under a low window or too close to a door or path. The trouble with planting a hibiscus in too small an area is that it will need to be pruned regularly. And pruning a hibiscus in a hedge-like fashion to keep it within bounds means that you’ll have to sacrifice flowering. Too much pruning eventually will produce a plant that is woody and bare of foliage. This area is full of poorly pruned hibiscus.

Pruning should be limited to cutting out older woody growth to encourage new growth that will flower. Don’t prune between mid-summer and the following spring; the resulting growth is most susceptible to frost.

What should you do if frost nips back growth in wintertime? Wait for new growth in the spring, and then prune off any damaged wood above the new growth. Don’t prune too quickly after a frost. Make sure that the warm weather is here to stay.

When can you plant? Right now. Hibiscus like heat and will quickly take hold at this time of year. Be sure, however, to keep the root ball moist. Every few days, at first, let the hose trickle at the base of the plant until the ground and root ball are saturated. While they’re growing, water them often, but don’t let the soil get soggy.

Hibiscus do best in soil that drains quickly. Add lots of organic matter such as peat moss or ground bark before planting. Yellow foliage is often a sign of poor drainage. After the plant has been in the ground for a month, begin monthly fertilizing. Stop in September; growth after that point is susceptible to frost, even though flowering continues well into fall.

Hardy Hibiscus and Hydrangeas

Creek Side plants large bare roots to get the hardy hibiscus crop going in late April. At the same time, we plant starter hydrangea plants that have been conditioned to take off and flower this year. Superior plant genetics from Proven Winner on both plant selections helps us to grow large hibiscus and hydrangea bushes that are extremely hardy in Colorado gardens. Or set the pot into a decorative container on your sunny porch or patio, water the soil every day and stand back while these beautiful plants flower like crazy through the rest of the summer into the fall. Then plant in your garden in September. Read about each variety below and stop by the greenhouse to see these beauties for yourself!

Hardy Hibiscus in Colorado prefer full sun to part shade location that will form a compact, upright habit. Summerific Hibiscus will benefit from regular irrigation and fertilizer applications that will keep the flower buds forming all the way up the stems. The showy flowers will attract hummingbirds and are deer resistant.

Hibiscus Summerific ‘Cranberry Crush’

Near-black buds open to glossy deep scarlet-red, 7-8” flowers for several months. Deep green, leathery, maple-like leaves with purple overtones. Hardiness Zone 4, 4’ tall.

Hibiscus Summerific ‘Berry Awesome’

Dark, midnight olive green foliage with deeply-lobed, maple-like leaves compliments the lavender pink flowers for a showy display up to 3-4 ft. tall. Huge 7-8” ruffled flowers have a red eye and bloom for several months in late summer. Hardiness Zone 4, 4’ tall.

Hibiscus Summerific ‘Perfect Storm’

Huge 7-8” white flowers are edged with light pink and a bright red eye that radiates out with the veins. Complimented with dark foliage up to 3 ft. tall. Hardiness Zone 4, 3’ tall.

Hydrangeas in Colorado prefer a part shade location that will form an upright mounded habit. Once established, Panicle Hydrangeas will withstand some drying out of the soil between irrigation applications. Fertilize in early spring and again in late summer. Flowers continuously from July until frost on new wood, new growth that is formed in the current season. Prune in late winter or early spring.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

Flowers open creamy white then turn lime green. In fall as temperatures cool they turn deep pink. Blooms yearly without fail. Hardiness Zone 3, 6’ tall.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Fire Light’

Thick, sturdy stems hold large upright flowers which open white and transform to rich pomegranate-pink. Hardiness Zone 3, 5’ tall

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Quick Fire’

Early bloomer flowers open white pink and darken as they age. Blooms reliably each year. Hardiness Zone 3, 6’ tall.

Hydrangea paniculate ‘Pinky Winky’

Exceptionally large, two-toned blooms emerge pure white and turn an intense deep pinks summer progresses. Blooms regularly mid-summer till frost. Hardiness Zone 3, 6’ tall.

Outdoor Hibiscus Care: Tips On Growing Hibiscus In Gardens

Hibiscus is a gorgeous plant that sports huge, bell-shaped flowers. Though tropical types are typically grown indoors, hardy hibiscus plants make exceptional specimens in the garden. Wondering about the difference between hardy hibiscus and tropical hibiscus? Want to learn how to grow hibiscus outdoors in the garden? Read on.

Hardy Hibiscus vs. Tropical Hibiscus

Although the flowers may be similar, hardy hibiscus plants are very different from the fussy, tropical hothouse plants available in floral shops and grown indoors. Hardy hibiscus is a non-tropical plant that tolerates punishing winters as far north as USDA plant hardiness zone 4 (with protection), while tropical hibiscus won’t survive outdoors north of zone 9.

Tropical hibiscus is available in single or double blooms in colors that include salmon, peach, orange or yellow. On the other hand, hardy hibiscus plants comes in single forms only, with blooms of red, pink or white – often as large as dinner plates. Tropical hibiscus displays deep green, glossy leaves, while the heart-shaped leaves of hardy hibiscus are a duller shade of green.

Hibiscus Care Outdoors

Hardy hibiscus plants are surprisingly easy to grow as long as you provide them with well-drained soil and a spot in full sunlight. The secret to success is to water enough to keep the soil evenly moist.

This plant doesn’t absolutely require fertilizer, but a general-purpose fertilizer will promote vigorous growth and support blooming.

Don’t worry if your hardy hibiscus plants die to the ground after a hard frost in autumn. Just cut them down to a height of 4 or 5 inches, and then wait for the plants to regrow from the roots in spring once temps begin to warm back up again.

Don’t assume your plants have died if they don’t show up with the first hint of spring, as hardy hibiscus generally doesn’t make an appearance until May or June – then they catch up in a hurry with masses of blooms until fall.

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