If you’re looking for a plant with an impressive, exotic, trumpet-like flower in a wide range of colours and sizes, you can’t go wrong with a Hibiscus. There are over 200 species and many more cultivars and hybrids in the genus.
While Hibiscus plants can be a little bit needier than some other popular flowers, mastering the basics of Hibiscus care isn’t exceedingly difficult, and their vibrant blooms are well worth a little extra effort. Let’s look at some tips on how to care for hibiscus.
Containers vs. Outdoor planting
Hibiscus can be grown in containers or planted in garden beds outdoors, but all things considered, most people find it a bit easier to care for them in containers. When choosing a container to put your Hibiscus in, don’t get one that’s too large. Hibiscus plants actually prefer a slightly snug fit around their roots, so a smaller pot with some drainage holes will work best.
When planting Hibiscus in the garden, make sure there are about 60-90cm between each plant. They grow quickly during the summer, so they’ll fill out really nicely. Also make sure to give your potted Hibiscus a watering more regularly than when they are planted in the garden.
Hibiscus love bright conditions. In colder areas full sun is often best, but in the intense, dry heat areas filtered sunlight is better. If you find that your plant isn’t producing many blooms, move the plant to a sunnier location.
Indoor tropical Hibiscus will need a bright spot near a sunny window but keep it away from strong, direct sunlight. If you are transferring your plants outdoors after winter when the warmer weather arrives, gradually acclimate them to the brighter conditions.
All Hibiscus do best in well-drained, fertile, moist, and loamy soil. Most Hibiscus prefer a slightly acidic soil pH. The colour of Hibiscus flowers can be affected by the soil acidity level.
Mulching around the plant base can help with moisture retention if your location is experiencing dry conditions. Plantland’s Wood Mulch is a good option. For nutrient-poor soil, amending with organic matter, such as Plantland’s Kraal Manure, will be beneficial.
Hibiscus are thirsty plants that need to be kept moist. Indoor tropical Hibiscus benefit from regular watering from spring to early autumn during the growing season. For container-grown plants, ensure the top 2cm or so of potting mix dries out fully before watering—saturated soil is also problematic, so make sure containers have adequate drainage holes.
Depending on the conditions, you might need to water your Hibiscus daily to help it produce an abundance of blooms, especially if not planted near a pond or in another wet area.
To encourage abundant, healthy blooms with good colour, feed plants with a high potassium and high nitrogen fertiliser. Protek’s 8:1:5 Rose & Flower Fertiliser or Organic Flower Power Fertiliser are excellent options. Feed a half-strength solution just before the start of the bloom period and continue at least once every few weeks until the end of flowering.
Hardy Hibiscus benefit from annual winter pruning once they are established. Cutting the plant back after flowering, especially dead, damaged, and diseased branches and old wood growing in the center of the plant can aid air circulation and keep the plant looking tidy. Don’t worry if you cut back aggressively; this species can handle it.
Hibiscus varieties are rather particular about conditions, and if you can’t meet their requirements, there are some common problems to watch out for.
Pests – Hibiscus are not bothered by many pests or diseases, but red spider mites can be problematic when humidity levels are not high enough. Aphids are sometimes an issue too, but they can be kept at bay with regular cleaning or products such as Protek Complete 350 SC or Koinor 350 SC.
Yellow foliage – If you see your plant’s leaves turning yellow, it could be that you are subjecting it to sudden changes in weather conditions, not watering correctly, or not fertilising often enough. Expect a little yellowing during the transitional seasons of spring and autumn, but anything extreme merits further investigation.
Hibiscus care can sometimes be a labour of love, but the resulting blooms that keep reappearing for months on end are totally worth it. So long as you keep an eye on your plant and monitor its growth and colouring, your hibiscus will be in good hands.
Find these Hibiscus available in-store or on our online shop: Hibiscus Arionicus, Hibiscus Poisedon, Hibiscus Adonicus Apricot, Hibiscus Athenacus, Hibiscus Adonicus Pink, Hibiscus Hera and Hibiscus Boreas Yellow.