Growing Hibiscus Flowers

Tropical Hibiscus Winter Care

Growing Hibiscus rosa sinensis indoors. Winter care of tropical hibiscus plants. How to store them if you cannot provide enough light and heat to keep the plants blooming year-round. Pictures.

Hibiscus rosa sinensis is easy to grow as long as you give the plant enough light and space. This is true year round.

Tropical Hibiscus winter care entails providing the plants with "summer" growing conditions indoors. If you do this, they will continue to bloom through the winter. If you cannot provide a false summer indoors, you can cut the plants back and store them in a cold but frost-free area.

When growing Hibiscus plants in pots it is important to remember that you are dealing with a group of plants that has been extensively hybridized.

Each different flower is a slightly different plant.

No one can lay down one set of rules that will apply to every plant in this group. They are bred for the beautiful flowers they produce, not for vigor. So before you fall in love with the flower, just understand that the plant supporting it may not be that strong.

Some Hibiscus hybrids will weaken after just a couple of years in a pot. The only reasonable thing to do when this happens is replace them. Please don't put yourself through the heartache of trying to pull a plant out of a slump it simply doesn't have the genetic strength to overcome.

This lack of vigor is what allows these normally large shrubs to be content to live in a pot for as long as they do. The fancy grafted hibiscus varieties are the best ones to grow as houseplants. The older varieties are too large and grow too quickly to survive for long in any container small enough to be easily moved.

Growing Hibiscus Plants In Containers

Hibiscus 'Shelly Lynn'

Use the largest pot you have room to store over the winter and can move without injury. Pot the plant into your favorite potting mix. They are not picky about this. Plant it at the same level it was growing at before. Keep the soil an inch or two below the rim of the pot to leave space for watering.

Mix a little slow-release fertilizer into the potting soil and you won't have to remember to feed your Hibiscus plant every month. Otherwise give it a dose of liquid houseplant food every 4 weeks.

Keep the soil barely moist any time the plant is actively growing.

It is best (and easiest) to let your Hibiscus spend the summer months outdoors in semi-shade.

If you want to keep it blooming through the winter, move the pot back in when outside temperatures fall into the 40s F. These plants begin to show leaf damage at about 40 degrees.

If you are only trying to keep the plant alive through the winter but can't provide a warm enough environment to support bloom, leave the plant out until temps fall into the middle 30s.

This should force them into dormancy. Many of the leaves will turn yellow and drop and they will stop blooming. At this stage you can cut them back by a third or less and bring them in.

Hibiscus Winter Care

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Dormant plants need to be stored cool and dry. Keep them above freezing but below 60 degrees F. Don't let the soil in the pots become powder dry, but water very sparingly until warm weather returns. Withhold food until you see new growth in the spring.

Plants that will be enjoying a false summer indoors only need to be pruned to shape them up and make them more attractive.

If you are worried about bringing bugs in, drench the pots while they are still outdoors with a bucket of water to which you have added a teaspoon of dish liquid. This won't hurt the plant but it will cause any insects in the pot to come to the surface.

This would be a good time to spray the foliage with the same solution. Flush the pot with clear water and rinse the foliage. Let it drain and dry before you carry the pots in.

The temperature of your house will be fine for a tropical hibiscus but the lack of humidity may be a problem. So will any lack of light. Set the plant in the brightest spot you have that is not near a radiator.

Growing Hibiscus Plants
Are Your Indoor Conditions Right?

Photo of a pink Hibiscus flower.
  • If so, the plants will grow compactly and they won't get bugs.
  • If they become leggy, they aren't getting enough light.
  • If they get spider mites or aphids, run a humidifier and increase the air circulation. Run a fan on the lowest speed for a few hours and crack a window for a few minutes per day.

As a last resort, water insect infested plants with a systemic insecticide. Do not ingest any part of a plant so treated.

Some references claim that when growing Hibiscus indoors, they require a winter rest period.

I don't believe this to be the case. The plants in my yard bloom from summer until stopped by frost. And frost is the only reason they stop.

Tiny and I have been to the Caribbean during the winter. The Hibiscus plants there were still blooming. I see no reason to believe they need to sleep.

The easiest thing in the world for a tropical hibiscus to do is bloom. They are not difficult to bring into flower as long as they are getting enough light.

Follow these instructions for Hibiscus winter care and you'll be growing Hibiscus plants that bloom all winter long.

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More Hibiscus Growing Info:

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Tropical Hibiscus Summer Care Details

Hibiscus mutabilis : the Confederate Rose

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