When you think of Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis), the first thing that comes to mind is warm, tropical weather. Its seductive flowers in shades of pink, orange and red, waving in a warm, sultry breeze recall beaches and tropical sunsets.
The good news is you can easily grow it both indoors and outdoors, as long as a few growing requirements are met. To make sure your tropical plant will produce as many flowers as possible, we’ve created this in-depth hibiscus care guide!
Also, let me tell you that I received my first Hibiscus plant several years ago, and I am still in love with its big, showy red flowers. Living in Canada, any plant providing color through our long, cold winters, is a rare one.
So, let’s start giving you the advice you need!
How to care for hibiscus outdoors
Different varieties of hibiscus will require different growing conditions, even if they are basically the same genus. The main difference between the different types of hibiscus plants is the hardiness zones they can grow in.
For example, the tropical hibiscus will need a warmer environment to grow in and is suitable for USDA Zones 9 through 10, while the hardy varieties will thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 9.
So, here comes the first hibiscus care tip: Always check what is your USDA Hardiness Zone.
I live in Canadian Hardiness Zone 4 and I place my hibiscus plants outdoors (in their pots) from late May until mid-September.
In Zone 4, summer temperatures can have a daytime high of 90 degrees, and a nighttime low of 62 degrees. Depending on the weather (dryness, rainfall), the plants will require watering every second day at least.
Hibiscus plants bloom often and have attractive and bright flowers, measuring between 4 to 6 inches in diameter. The flowers come in pale peach, pinks, and reds. Sadly, they only last for about 24 hours.
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The Chinese Hibiscus will die if the temperature drops below 50 degrees.
Light Requirements:Full Sun
Watering Needs:Keep the soil moist
USDA Hardiness Zone:9 & 10
Temperature Requirements:55ºF to 85ºF
Moving your hibiscus indoors
Outdoor – Indoor accommodation
To ensure your hibiscus accommodates the shift from outdoors to indoors, it’s a good idea to bring them indoors in the evening for a few days, returning them outside during the day.
Spray it to remove insects
A few days before bringing them indoors for good, spray with water all over, including the underside of leaves, to remove any insects.
If you still can’t get rid of them, you can try using insecticidal soap. If you are concerned about residue on the leaves, you can gently wipe the leaves with a solution of diluted white vinegar.
Change the top layer of the soil
I usually change the top layer of soil before moving the plant indoors and spray the soil and roots (if re-potting), with insecticidal soap to kill any bugs living in the soil.
Trust me; you don’t want fungus gnats around your houseplants!
Moist soil or repotting
After moving your hibiscus indoors, you’ll notice some leaf will become yellow and drop off. This is a matter of concern only if the yellowing and leaf loss is excessive, as it might signal that your hibiscus is root bound or is suffering from another kind of stress.
Hibiscus plants grow best when the soil is rich and consistently moist. So, it may be a good idea to either re-pot the plant or at least add some new soil to add additional nutrients before bringing it indoors.
How to care for your hibiscus indoors
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Hibiscus plants need at least 6 hours of full sun to be able to bloom at their full capacity. Indoors, make sure to place it in a sunny spot, so it can receive as much light as possible. It can also thrive in partial shade, but at a cost, it won’t make as many flowers. Basically, more light means more flowers.
If you can’t provide the minimum amount of light indoors, you can always supplement it with grow lights.
From September to April, I place my plants indoors in a bright room and keep the temperature cool (between 60 and 65 degrees). Hibiscus plants need a considerable amount of water, particularly if the humidity in the house is low.
I usually water my plants once per week, but I leave a self-watering bulb in my hibiscus’ soil to make sure it does not dry out.
When they do dry out, the leaves wilt completely although a drink perks them up quickly. Still, it is best for the health of the plant to keep water levels stable as each wilting weakens the plant.
Fertilizing a Hibiscus during its growing season will result in more blooms. A fertilizer low in phosphate and low in potassium is an excellent choice for hibiscus plants.
If you’re not familiar and confident in your fertilizing skills, you can always rely on good soil (a combination of potting soil, peat, and vermiculite), adequate water, good light, and regular attention. So far, this has worked for me although many people swear by fertilizers – individual taste!
Hibiscus plants can get quite leggy, and it is best to prune it significantly at the end of the summer season. I know, it’s always difficult to cut away healthy leaves and stems, but it’s a necessary evil, as it helps the plant stay healthy.
If you are planning on simply wintering the plant and not necessarily encouraging flowering, you can prune it right down to two-thirds of its growth. It will look unfortunate, but as the winter days get longer, new growth will appear.
I currently have three hibiscus plants and a small one that I rooted. I have noticed that as the plants have aged, they rarely flower during winter.
This is proof that regular pruning is essential to have full foliage. The simplest way to root a new plant is to cut a branch just below a node and place in a glass with fresh water. Change the water every week or so, and be patient! It will take several weeks to root.
Soil Requirements:Well drained, rich soil
Water Requirements:Keep the soil moist, but not wet
Light Requirements:Full sun to partial shade
This hibiscus care guide is meant for anyone who wants to add some tropical vibes to their home and garden.
Among my many house plants, the Chinese Hibiscus plants stand out for their size and beauty. They are easy to grow houseplants and require less than they can offer. Good light, consistent watering, a little loving attention, and your hibiscus will be the perennial plant of your tropical dreams.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!