spring or summer
4' to 10'
full sun to very light shade
rich well-drained soil
zones 5-11 depending on variety
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
borders, beds, along walls or fences, accent plants
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.
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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