How to Ensure Your Hibiscus Trees are Healthy

Nov 10, 2022

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Hibiscus trees are plants that can bring color and vigor to any garden. Not only do they have vibrant flowers, but they also attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other friendly visitors. Since they’re native to tropical environments, you may have to take some extra precautions to ensure that they keep thriving for years.

Some people have several hibiscus trees, while others choose to make a single tree the focal point of their garden space. Whatever you decide to do, you should know that you might have to spend a little more care than usual to keep hibiscus trees healthy. The good news is, your hibiscus tree should grow and flower without any problems as long as the right growing conditions are met. General information or troubleshooting is fairly easy to find online, and you can buy any necessary supplies from online stores like EnterNeverland. Hibiscus trees may take some figuring out at first, but most gardeners think that these beautiful trees are more than worth the effort.

Propagating hibiscus trees

Growing a hibiscus plant from a seed is possible, but it’s also a bit tricky; most gardeners propagate from cuttings instead. You should start with a four- to six-inch cutting that was taken from a section of the plant that isn’t yet mature; make sure it has a few leaves at the end. The cutting should be placed in well-drained soil, and covered to make a miniature greenhouse. This keeps the soil moist, and creates a friendlier environment as the young plant takes root.

Growing hibiscus trees in pots vs. flowerbeds

Since the hibiscus is a tree that can reach up to 15 feet in height, it’s reasonable to assume that it should be planted in the ground, rather than in a pot. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Since this plant prefers tropical conditions, it shouldn’t be planted outdoors if there’s a risk of freezing temperatures. With a large enough pot it’ll still be able to grow to quite a large size, plus you’ll be able to move it around for better sun exposure as needed.

You can certainly plant it directly in the soil, but for best results this should only be done in climates where temperatures don’t drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Plants should have two to three feet of space between them; if you plant them too close together, they’ll end up stunting each other’s growth. If you’ll be planting your hibiscus tree in a pot, ideally you should choose a stone pot rather than a clay pot. Hibiscus plants like slightly acidic soil, and clay pots tend to foster an alkaline environment over time.

Fertilizing hibiscus

You can’t just use any old fertilizer for these plants; you should select one that doesn’t contain phosphorus, as this could kill the plant. The fertilizer should also have a high potassium content, since this is one mineral that hibiscus plants love. It’s up to you how to deliver the fertilizer, but liquid fertilizers work best for even distribution. You could also add worm castings or compost bark once or twice per year; this encourages strong growth.

Pruning hibiscus

It isn’t necessary to prune hibiscus plants, but they sure love the extra attention. This can be done to stimulate budding, so it should always happen at the beginning of spring. If you really want to prune your plant but it’s later in the year, be sparing in what you cut back; if you get too enthusiastic in your pruning efforts, it could hinder the plant’s ability to bloom.

Temperature requirements

A hibiscus plant’s happy place is between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You have some leeway with this temperature range, but you should definitely avoid exposing it to freezing temperatures, or even close-to-freezing temperatures. Keep an eye on the weather during the winter, and if you know that a cold snap is coming, move the plants indoors where it can stay at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

Optimal lighting

Hibiscus plants need at least five or six hours of full sunlight daily, but they can definitely handle more than that. For best results, a hibiscus tree should be placed in full sunlight whenever possible. This is another reason why planting them in a pot can be handy. In the summer, a hibiscus might be able to handle only partial sunlight; in the winter, though, it might need to be strategically moved to the sunniest spots whenever possible.

Watering hibiscus

Remember, these are tropical plants; their soil should be both moist and well-drained. Dry them out, and they’ll stop blooming. Over-water them, and the roots will start rotting. As a general rule of thumb, you should wait to water a hibiscus plant only until the soil has barely dried out. At that point, you should give it a good soak, and make sure there’s no water sitting around the roots. A flowerbed can be drained with a well-planned irrigation system; a potted hibiscus should be in a container with multiple drain holes.

Type of soil

As mentioned above, hibiscus plants prefer slightly acidic soil. If you don’t have soil with the right pH levels, you can raise the acidity with the addition of peat moss.

Hibiscus troubleshooting

One of the most common problems seen in hibiscus trees is that their leaves start turning yellow. There can be all kinds of reasons for this, but usually the culprit is overwatering during the winter. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix – simply stop giving the plant so much water!

Another common issue is that a hibiscus tree’s leaves can burn on especially hot summer days. Even though it’s a tropical plant, it might benefit from occasional shade depending on which climate it’s growing in.

The takeaway

Hibiscus plants aren’t especially high-maintenance; with the right care they can produce an abundance of flowers, which is one of the many reasons why gardeners love them so much. Even if some gardeners have to protect their hibiscus trees from cold, sunburn, or other vulnerabilities, these plants still make a great addition to any garden.

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