Have you ever wondered what makes Hawaii so beautiful and full of life? For many, it’s in the lush plant life.
If you’re looking for a plant that will add a tropical flair to your home garden with lush and colorful flowers, plant a hibiscus tree.
This guide will show you everything you need to know about growing and nurturing the hibiscus tree.
But first, let’s dig into the different species available and how to choose the best for your garden.
How to Choose the Best Hibiscus Species
A quick search of the genus Hibiscus (Hibiscus spp) will give you over 300 species of perennials, annuals, and shrubs.
With so many varieties available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when shopping for the perfect hibiscus tree.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of the three most common species that will easily thrive in your home garden and are readily found in most nursery stores.
3 Common Hibiscus Varieties
|Botanical Name||Hibiscus syriacus||Hibiscus rosa-sinensis||Hibiscus moscheutos, Hibiscus mutabilis|
|Plant Hardiness Zones (USDA)||Zone 5-8||Zone 9-11||Zone 5-10|
|Flowers||Abundant and small flowers
Shades of: Blue, red, pink, and white
Shades of: White, red, pink, orange, yellow, peach, and purple
|Large showy flowers
Shades of: White, red, pink, and blue colors
|Plant Type||Deciduous, perennial shrub||Evergreen perennial||Herbaceous, deciduous perennial|
|Bloom Time||Late summer, early fall||Summer to fall (in containers)
All year round in tropical climates
Now that you know your options, let’s get our hands dirty and plant some hibiscus trees.
How to Plant a Hibiscus Tree — Two Easy Steps
Despite the many varieties of hibiscus trees, their growing conditions are similar.
Here are the best steps you can follow to plant your hibiscus tree.
Plant the Hibiscus Tree in Full Sun
Choose a site in your garden that receives about 6-8 hours of ample sunlight. However, a word of warning: high temperatures above 90℉ will burn and wilt your flowers and leaves. If the sun is too hot, provide a shade for your hibiscus plants using garden umbrellas or shade cloth.
Plant the Hibiscus Tree in Well-Draining Soil
Hibiscus plants thrive in soil that is:
- Moist but not soggy
- Slightly acidic (pH 6-6.5)
If your garden soil is dry and cracked or water pools or runs off the surface, you’ll notice that your hibiscus tree wilts despite religious watering. The leaves turn yellow or brown and the roots rot due to poor soil quality.
Luckily, you can improve your gardening soil with these easy tips:
- For poor draining soil — add compost and peat moss to amend heavy clay soils. Also, plant in a raised bed to control drainage.
- To increase acidity — use organic soil amendments such as sphagnum peat.
Plant in a Pot or Directly in the Ground
If your garden soil structure is perfect and you live in a tropical climate – by all means, plant your hibiscus tree directly in the ground.
But if you want a bit more control over the weather and soil, embrace potting.
Why Plant a Hibiscus in a Pot
- Easily move your hibiscus to the shade when the sun is too hot or to protect it from strong winds.
- Use a potting mix to get the ideal soil for planting in a container pot.
- Better yet, you can move your flower pot anywhere you want to add some extra beauty.
When to Propagate Hibiscus Plants
You can propagate a hibiscus plant in two ways; from seeds or cuttings.
Wait until the last frost date before you propagate. Even a slight freeze of 29 to 32℉ can kill your tender hibiscus tree.
If you’re propagating from seeds, you can either buy a package or collect the seeds straight from your hibiscus trees.
How to Collect Seeds from Your Garden
- Watch for pollination when the hibiscus flowers fall off and it produces green seed pods. Wait for the green pods to ripen and turn brown.
- Collect the seeds quickly before the pods burst open and blow away the seeds.
- Store seeds in a dry place to await sowing.
Pro tip: Sow your seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last frost date. Before sowing, carefully nick the hard seed coating to soften the seed and then soak the seeds for at least 8 hours to speed up germination.
If you would like your new plant to look exactly like the parent plant, forget the seeds and propagate from cuttings.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to easily propagate hibiscus plants from cuttings.
Your flowering plant has beautiful blooms, but the journey doesn’t end there. Hibiscus plant care is important to increase its life cycle.
5 Tips for Hibiscus Tree Care
Hibiscus plants love water, but not too much water.
The secret is to water according to the weather. During hot days when temperatures are above 80℉, water your hibiscus twice a day. If you notice that your potted plant dries up quickly, repot to a bigger container that can hold more water.
Fertilize your hibiscus tree frequently but lightly, with a well-balanced slow-release or water-soluble fertilizer.
Check the packaging for equal amounts of N-P-K ratio such as 10-10-10 to ensure it’s balanced. If you notice brown edges on your hibiscus leaves, you may have over-fertilized your hibiscus plant.
Mulch established plants with 3 to 4 inches of wood chip to conserve moisture and control weed growth.
Pruning and Deadheading
First, sterilize your pruning shears before you prune. In the spring, prune the tree to remove dead and diseased limbs, old canes, and branches that rub against each other.
Another way is to prune back the entire tree by one-third after blooming, leaving two to three nodes per branch for fresh growth.
Don’t prune shrubs in early fall, though. Pruning encourages fresh growth, which is more likely to get damaged by winter temperatures.
Although unnecessary, you may handpick withered flowers off the hibiscus to prevent reseeding and encourage new blooms.
Preventing and Controlling Pests
You’re unlikely to run into many disease problems in temperate climates, but fungal leaf spots can be a problem in warm, humid areas. Remove the infected hibiscus leaves promptly and clean up any debris on the ground. Use soaker hoses instead of overhead sprinklers and space the shrubs so air circulates freely.
The most common pests that attack hibiscus plants are:
Don’t ignore infested plants, as the pests may quickly spread and kill other plants in your garden.
To control aphids and whiteflies, spray leaves with insecticidal soap or oil. To manage Japanese beetles, handpick them and drop them in soapy water or use a pesticide labeled for treating Japanese beetles.
While hardy hibiscus trees will survive winter by dying and bouncing back to life in spring, tropical hibiscus trees could die forever if exposed to freezing temperatures below 50℉. Bring hibiscus plants indoors and keep them in a cool, dark location with temperatures of around 55℉. Your basement or garage is an ideal location.
Pro tip: Water the hibiscus plant very lightly — only when the soil is dry. Although the plant will lose its foliage when brought inside, the root ball will be intact, waiting for spring to bounce back.
Whether you buy a potted plant from the nursery, plant from seeds, or propagate from a neighbor’s cutting, Gardening Channel will offer you the gardening tips and advice you need to finally enjoy beautiful hibiscus blooms in your garden.
Do you have any burning gardening questions? Head over to our blog to see if we’ve already covered the topic. If not, drop a comment and we’ll be happy to advise.