Growing Hibiscus Plants

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March 15, 2006
Growing Hibiscus

Botanical Name:


Life Cycle:


Planting Time:

spring or summer


4' to 10'


full sun to very light shade


rich well-drained soil


zones 5-11 depending on variety

Bloom Time:



a dazzling variety of solid, variegated and striped colors; blooms ranging from 6 to 10 inches across


shrub-sized plants with green leaves and woody roots


seeds, cuttings, or purchase hybrids in pots

Suggested Use:

borders, beds, along walls or fences, accent plants

Growing Hints:

Tropical hibiscus needs a frost-free climate, while hardy hibiscus can grow in zones 5-11. If you have the patience, sow seeds indoors in late winter and transplant seedlings after your last frost date in the spring. For first year blooms, purchase plants from a nursery in the spring. Plants generally don't need dividing, but new plants can be started from cuttings taken in late summer and rooted indoors over winter. Space plants 3 feet apart with root crowns set 3 to 4 inches beneath the soil.

Pruning Tips:

Regular pruning keeps plants shapely and invigorated. New growth starts below any cuts made, so plan accordingly when stepping back to assess the plants overall shape. A good rule of thumb is to cut 1/3 of the branches back by 1/3 over the course of several years. Always use a sharp sheers so bark does not get stripped from the stem. Always leave at least 2-3 nodes or "eyes" (bumps on the stems where leaves used to grow) on each branch and leave about 1/2 inch between the eye and the cut.
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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
June 13, 2017

Omniscience would have to be very boring. The real mystery here is what drives this plant to make a last ditch effort to continue its own kind. In its final hours, with the rest of the plant almost gone, it produced one of the largest flowers of its lifetime.

Keep Gardening Interesting hibiscus bloom

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July 13, 2006

I bought a hibiscus plant at a flea market; the vendor told me it was a perenniel for our area of the country. She said that the "old wood" should not be cut back at the end of the season, it should be mulched for the winter months; in the spring the mulch should be removed and feeding should begin.

Red Hibiscus

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October 24, 2018

This is as far as it would open. Previous years' blooms were beautiful.

Hibiscus Blooms Not Opening Completely


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 433 Posts
October 24, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

The problem could be insects, especially thrips which feed off the flower. This causes the buds to fall off before blooming.


Thrips also lay eggs in the flower, causing them to turn yellow. Use an organic insecticide once a week.

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May 10, 2017

I have many hibiscus plans and several seem stressed. What can I do to help them?

Growing Hibiscus - orange flower
Growing Hibiscus


Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,246 Posts
May 11, 20170 found this helpful

Hibiscus like acid soil so get peat moss or potting soil for it.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
May 12, 20170 found this helpful

It looks like these are well established hibiscus plants so they must have been in the ground for several years. Your zone must be in the high numbers or these plants would not have survived the winter months.


Hibiscus generally need to be pruned every year and really should not have other plants/weeds growing in their "space". For a beginning, take a good look at your plants and try to determine what is really wrong - you can read about the problems with growing hibiscus and see if your plants match any of the conditions noted. This is the only way to help your plants. It really looks like your plants need a good pruning for a start and maybe try to clear some of the area around their root system.
Here is an excellent site that has listed most of the problems - with solutions - that may help save your plants. Read everything and just keep hitting "next" at the bottom of the page as there are several pages of information.

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July 29, 2013

Last year I was having trouble with the leaves on my hibiscus cupping very badly. Also with a Black-eyed Susan, the leaves weren't cupped, but deformed and scarred. I came to the conclusion that they had powdery mildew; all symptoms seemed to point in that direction.

This year they both came up looking perfectly fine and healthy. They were growing as they should. Then they started to look a little tattered as time passed. Of course I gave them a good shot of soapy water and fed them. I staked the hibiscus for support against the wind. They just slowly started looking worse.


I think I was incorrect in my diagnosis of powdery mildew last year. We get a lot of wind here for several days in a row at times (20 to 30 mph gusts and 15 to 20 sustained). There is nothing on this side of the house for a wind break. I placed some bricks, with 3 holes in them, a little way in front of the flower beds that were the worst target for the wind. In just 1 week the Black-eyed Susan was showing a great deal of improvement. Now it is sporting several buds. The hibiscus plants however are more toward the back of the bed and are too tall for these small bricks to make a much of a deflection against the wind. The hibiscus looks just as they did last year, there is very pronounced cupping of the leaves (most especially the newer leaves).

I am going to move them to a new location where maybe they'll be somewhat protected from the harsh winds. It is, however, in a partly shaded area. Can plants actually get mildew in an area where there is rarely any humidity or rain? We live in zone 5 in the very southeast corner of Colorado, the very southwest corner of Kansas, and just north of the Oklahoma panhandle.


We are now in the process of planting as many lilac bushes as we can around the property for a windbreak. I planted an assortment of 9 shrubs last year for this very purpose. Not nearly enough to cover the area we need covered in the country. I don't have the time to wait for those 9 shrubs to grow into a windbreak. They were planted in well thought out places, with the intent to fill in the gaps by adding a few new shrubs every year. But it is what it is and I have 6 very mature lilac bushes that have oodles of shoots just begging to be dug up. I just transplanted 10 in a line on the problem side of the property and we're not halfway through digging holes yet! I hope that deflecting the wind improves the growing conditions on that side if the house. So many ideas, but nothing seems to grow well there.


So, I guess the question is, what kind of wind can a hibiscus tolerate and what would the damage to the plant entail? I could be wrong again about the wind, too. The plants leaves are cupped and they just look altogether fatigued.

By LorindaWalshCO from Walsh, CO


August 3, 20130 found this helpful

I wasn't able to load a picture of my poor hibiscus plants when I sent my question .... I am going to try now & hope it works.

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July 21, 20160 found this helpful

I am having the same problem and I read that stress on the plant or too much nitrogen can be the cause. I did use a different type of fertilizer this year so who knows. Last year this did not happen and it is these plants second year.

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March 18, 2019

I have an potted hibiscus that is almost 5 feet tall and blooms continuously all winter. In the summer I put it outside in a partly sunny location and it remains healthy, but does not flower.

What am I doing wrong?

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July 25, 2012

Last year was the first time I tried hardy hibiscus. I got roots from a mail order catalog and planted them in late spring with plenty of sun. We have very sandy soil so I water often, every 2 days, saturating the soil. The leaves on all 3 plants are cupped to such an extreme that the new leaves look like miniature lobster claws. The older leaves look like little boats. They haven't lost any leaves, they are still growing and there is no yellowing.

The biggest plant hasn't bloomed at all. The second biggest plant had 2 blooms, the smallest had 3 buds; 2 small buds that dried up and fell off. The 3rd bud did bloom. Both flowers had beautiful color (white with a burgundy center), but they didn't open up the way they should. They weren't as big as the ones I've seen on plants not 4 hours from here. There were spaces between the petals. The petals were sort of long and slender.

I also have Black-Eyed Susan at the end of this same bed with some leaves misshapen and having bronze like spots on tops and under sides of leaves, as well as a fringe of bronze around the edges. These flowers are small, but otherwise look normal. They aren't a year old yet, so maybe small blooms are normal?

Has my bed got some sort of disease? Or are they starving for nutrients? I've fed them liquid iron 2X in the last month, added organic granules to the soil when they first came up in spring and drenched them with a 20-20-20 soluble food 1 or 2 times in the last 2 weeks, thinking it might help. I don't want to give them too much food for fear of causing more problems. These are the only plants effected in that bed, the sedum and Red-Hot Pokers are fine. Anyone?

By LorindaWalshCO from Walsh, CO


July 28, 20120 found this helpful

Never mind. Day after day I have searched the web for an answer, and asked everyone I talked to if they might know what is wrong with my poor pathetic flowers. No answers could I find. Then last night I figured it out! And all by my desperate self. Both the hibiscus and the Black-Eyed Susans have powdery mildew. It appears that the disfigured leaves and spots are the prelude to the white stuff; which has now made its grand entrance.

It's really sad because, I was so excited and so proud of myself for figuring out the problem on my own, because ten minutes later both of my Black-Eyed Susans (blooms and all!) were sheared to ground! The Hibisbus will suffer the same here in a few hours. Then the treatment & recovery begin.

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August 1, 20120 found this helpful

I didn't get to read your article before you sheared your babies down, but both will return. The powdery mildew I keep at bay by making sure my hibiscus is in a lot of sun and in the rainy season, I use dawn dish soap and bleach (doesn't take a lot) in a quart sprayer about a tsp. of each). Do it in the evening after it gets cooler and let them grow. You still probably need to fertilize the hibiscus & black eyed Susans. Remember it is a wet land type plant. Just water well in dry times and fertilize. Keep growing.

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March 15, 2016

I have a hibiscus tree that I brought in this past summer and the leaves are curling in. What is going on?


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
March 17, 20160 found this helpful

I have no idea. I do know that several insects use webbing to draw the leaves around their nest. Do closely examine the curled leaves, both topside and bottom.

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January 19, 2016

Both of these plants hibiscus grew beautiful flowers, but now seem to have some disease both on leaves and stem. Their location was changed to another part of the house, then they were brought to the original location, which has more sunlight and where they bloomed many a time, this happened.

Is there a way to treat them?

Light Spots on Hibiscus Leaves
Light Spots on Hibiscus Leaves


March 18, 20160 found this helpful

It's a little difficult to tell froom that picture but it looks like it may be whitefly, not uncommon for Hibiscus to get. Don't worry. While your Hibiscus MAY be angry and upset at this, you can save her. But you must act fast. First, start by taking Palmolive soap (MUST BE PALMOLIVE) and get one of those 1 liter spray bottles. Put in about half a tablespoon of the soap in the bottle and then fill it with water. Fill it slowly so as not to get massive foam forming iin the bottle. Make sore to shake it well so that the soap dilutes in the water. Now Spray your plant like crazy with this mixture EVERY DAY, preferably NOT when it is exposed to sun as water beads magnify sun and will burn the leaves, rendering your plant MORE unhappy. The oils in the soap are good for the leaves and your plant will ove you for it. The soap of course will dry out the eggs (most likely the white dots) and burn them as much as possible. When you can, try to wipe the leaves down CAREFULLY, and don't tear the leaves as you do so.
For how long do you spray? Well that depends on your hibiscus and how fast it helps. I would say a better part of 3 months, at least 2 EVEN if the leaves appear clean after. Also SPRAY the earth with this mix. I also recommend you water her first BEFORE spraying the earth, simply because you don't want to wash away the soapy coating that lays on the earth. For the first 3 weeks, spray her every day. After that a rate of 3 days YES and 1 day no. Soap is a little tiring for the plant too after a while and she does prefer water than soap. The oils in Palmolive will keep the leaves from drying out.

As for rubbing down the leaves, DON'T START right away! Try this after a week or so when the soap has had time to have an effect. And again, don't be afraid to over spray. Oh and, make sure to spray both on top and UNDER the leaves! White flies don't discriminate where they rest.

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January 14, 2016

I just planted a variegated hibiscus and overnight something shredded/ate virtually every leaf. I live in Queensland, Australia. Could the culprit be a brush turkey?

What Ate My Hibiscus Leaves

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March 23, 2015

I had lots of aphids on my hibiscus. I sprayed soapy water on it after the sun went down, but since I live in Florida, the next day there was plenty of sun. Within a few days all the leaves and buds fell off. Did I kill it or will my hibiscus come back?

By Linda from Sebastian, FL


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 169 Posts
March 24, 20150 found this helpful

At least 50 years ago a brother in law told me that I could determine whether a plant was still alive by scratching it on the main "trunk". If it's still green the plant is still alive. I'm sure your hibiscus is still alive. I certainly hope so! I love those things!

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