Care Instructions and Gardening Tips -
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is in the Malvaceae family and
all family names end with "aceae". For identification each
plant species are placed into a family. To be categorized
within a family, each plant species must have technical
characteristics. Plants are classified into families based
on several criteria, but mainly the flower is the main classifying
feature. The scientific community has devised a naming system
for plants, a latinized binomial system. The first word
is the genus name, the second word is the specific epithet,
and together the words form the species name. For example,
the scientific name for the plant commonly called southern
magnolia is Magnolia grandiflora; the genus isMagnolia, the specific epithet grandiflora.Scientific names are universal and there will be no
confusion when one uses the names. Several plants have numerous
common names and the one draw back to using common names
is that they change from state to state and from county
to county. Some common plant names even include part or
the entire scientific name. Hibiscus rosa-senensishas more than a few common names: Chinese Hibiscus,
Tropical Hibiscus, and Hibiscus. Hibiscus rosa-sinensisis native to southern China and is only winter hardy
in tropical regions of the world. Hibiscus' are hardy from
USDA zones 9-11 and can be planted in the garden. For gardeners
north of zone 9 you may grow Hibiscus' in containers and
can winterize the plant in the fall. Following are care
instructions and gardening tips to maintain your new Hibiscus.
key to a plant's success is appropriate soil, light, water,
and fertilizer. An appropriately watered and fertilized
plant will tolerate more stress than a plant that is not
properly cared for. When a plant is under stress that is
when the plant is more susceptible to insect and/or disease
infestations. The less stress a plant endures the healthier
the plant is. Several stress factors that a plant endures
can be prevented by proper care.
Immediate Hibiscus Care Upon Arrival For 4" Pots:First, remove the plant(s) from
the box and plant sleeves from around the pot. Our Hibiscus
plants are shipped on the dry side. Place the plant(s) in
a saucer and water the plant until the water starts to collect
in the saucer, while the plant is absorbing the water in
the saucer, mist the plant(s) with water. This procedure
helps the plant gain back some of the water it lost during
the shipping process. Do not put your plant in direct sunlight
for two weeks because your Hibiscus needs to acclimate to
a new growing environment. After your plant is refreshed
from their journey you may want to repot your Hibiscus to
a larger container, it is recommended to go no larger than
4 inches from the original pot size, an 8-inch azalea type
pot will be perfect. First, remove the plastic pot, and
fill ¼ of the container with your potting soil. I have had
good luck with Scotts Potting Soil or MiracleGro Potting
Soil; both soils will provide the drainage that is perfect
for growing your Hibiscus. Next, place the 4" root ball
in the container, and while holding the root ball in an
upright position, fill the container with soil. Water the
soil. Hibiscus are heavy feeders. A Hibiscus fertilizer
should have a low phosphorous [P], which is the middle number
and a higher analysis of potassium [K], which is the last
number. The recommended fertilizers for the Hibiscus are
10-4-12, 9-3-12, or 12-4-18. Osmocote 17-6-10 + minors or
Osmocote 18-6-12 is also recommended for Hibiscus and is
a time-release fertilizer. Follow the application and frequency
rates recommended by the fertilizer company.
Soil: For container-grown
Hibiscus use a well-drained soil mixture containing compost
and perlite. For Hibiscus to be planted in the landscape
use this method: All plants should be evenly moist before
planting. Position plants in the area to be planted. While
placing the plants be sure the best side or front of the
plant is in the area that is most viewed. After the plants
are in position take a couple of steps back and view the
area from a distance, at different angles of vision, and
view the area from inside the house. These steps help to
determine if the plant is in the proper place. Turn the
pot back and forth several times to make an indentation
in the soil with the container. This marks the ground and
also helps indicate how wide to dig the planting hole.
planting hole should be less than the height of the root
ball and twice as wide. Use organic compost or soil conditioner
and mix it 50-50 with the soil from the planting hole; soil
amendments should always be thoroughly mixed with the soil
from the planting hole. Apply at a rate of one part soil
amendment(s) to two parts planting hole soil. This procedure
will help the roots to eventually spread beyond the original
planting hole. Do not make the original
planting hole too rich with soil amendments because the
roots of the plant will never spread out from the original
planting hole to the existing soil. Use the container from
the plant as a measure and a wheelbarrow to mix any soil
amendments with the existing soil.
the plant in the hole. The top of the root ball should be
2 inches above normal ground. Fill the planting hole with
the soil mixture and add mulch as a top dressing. Next,
water the root ball of the plant, planting hole and a small
area outside the planting hole thoroughly. After watering,
apply a root stimulator on a weekly basis for two months.
There are several on the market today to choose from.
Light: Correct light helps to ensure proper
growth and health of the plant. Given too little light the
plant grows spindly and leggy. When given too much light
the plant gets sunburned. Hibiscus need a minimum of 5 -
6 hours of full sun. When growing your plant indoors give
a southern or western exposure. The more hours of sun your
Hibiscus receives the happier and healthier it will be.
During the warm spring and summer months it is recommended
to enjoy your Hibiscus outdoors.
Water: Watering plants on a regular time
schedule helps to keep your Hibiscus plant healthy. Keep
your Hibiscus evenly moist, but not soggy wet. Let the water
run out through the drainage holes at the bottom of the
container. Avoid letting the water stand for longer than
24 hours in a saucer. While the Hibiscus is actively growing
you may have to water more frequently.
Fertilizer: Fertilizers are the vitamins
or the essential elements that a plant needs. The soil,
atmosphere, and water usually provide the plant with these
essential nutrients. There are times when the soil is generally
nutrient deficient and in this case a fertilizer is essential.
There are sixteen essential elements to plant nutrition.
These elements are separated into two categories, macronutrients
and micronutrients. The macronutrients are: oxygen [O],
carbon [C], hydrogen [H], nitrogen [N], phosphorus [P],
potassium [K], Calcium [Ca], magnesium [Mg], sulfur [S]
and are required by the plant in large amounts. Oxygen,
carbon and hydrogen are provided to the plant by the atmosphere
and water. Required by the plant in small amounts the micronutrients
are: iron [Fe], manganese [Mn], zinc [Zn], baron [B], copper
[Cu], molybdenum [Mo], and chlorine [Cl]. These elements
are the building blocks to plant nutrition.
a complete fertilizer can prevent deficiency symptoms. Fertilizers
are sold in a wide variety of types such as granular, spikes,
cartridges, liquid, water-soluble, and slow-release. Each
has advantages depending on what type of plant the gardener
is fertilizing. Granular is generally used for lawns, shrubs,
and trees. On lawn usage a spreader is required for even
distribution. When applying a granular fertilizer, for shrubs,
spread the fertilizer around the root zone, and for trees
spread evenly under the tree's branch circumference. Apply
at the rates recommended by the fertilizer manufacturer.
Because granular fertilizer may cause burning, it should
not come in contact with a plant's leaves or stems. After
applying a granular fertilizer, water thoroughly. Spikes
are inserted into the soil at specific locations recommended
by the fertilizer manufacture and are usually used for large
trees and shrubs. The fertilizer is slowly released when
water is applied and will last for a specific amount of
time. Cartridges require a cartridge holder that is attached
to a garden hose where the water slowly dissolves the fertilizer.
A depth of 6 to 10 inches is sufficient. Liquid and water-soluble
fertilizers are quickly available to the plant. The liquid
or water-soluble products are mixed with water and are applied
to container plants or can be poured directly into the soil.
Fertilizer company's have made hose-end sprayers to use
with their products and can be used at every watering. Time-release
is a fertilizer coated with a special material, which allows
a small release of nutrients when it is exposed to water.
These fertilizers are formulated to last from 3 to 12 months.
Temperature is also a factor in the release of the nutrients.
Hibiscus are heavy feeders. A Hibiscus fertilizer should
have a low phosphorous [P], which is the middle number and
a higher analysis of potassium [K], which is the last number.
The recommended fertilizers for the Hibiscus are 10-4-12,
9-3-12, or 12-4-18. Osmocote 17-6-10 + minors or Osmocote
18-6-12 is also recommended for Hibiscus and is a time-release
fertilizer. Try our Nutri Star Hibiscus Food 10-4-12 on
your Hibiscus that you purchase from Hibiscus and More.Click Here For Purchase.
Winterizing Your Hibiscus: Start getting
your Hibiscus ready to bring indoors when Daylight Saving
Time ends. The temperature slowly starts to drop in the
evening leading to cooler nights. Place the Hibiscus in
a shady location for two weeks to begin acclimatizing it
for interior residence. During this time check your plant
for any insects and spray with the appropriate insecticide.
Place the Hibiscus in a southern or western exposure. Your
Hibiscus may experience yellowing of the leaves and leaf
drop. Your plant is just adjusting to their new surroundings.
During the winter months it is recommended to use a humidity
saucer for your Hibiscus. You can easily make this by getting
a saucer and lining the bottom of the saucer with small
gravel or pebbles and filling the saucer with water to the
level of the stones.
Time to Go Outdoors: Once the weather warms
up, to 40 - 50 degrees, you can start acclimatizing your
Hibiscus by placing it in the shade outdoors and then slowly
move the plant to partial shade and finally to full sun.
Now would be a good time to fertilize and prune your Hibiscus.
Follow the recommended fertilizer rates listed on the label.
Pruning encourages a bushier plant.
Pruning: Is an art but it is also a science.
Along the plant's stem are nodes, which are dormant until
a cut is made just above that node. The nodes are growing
points along the plant's stem. When the plant's stem is
cut this stimulates chemical and/or hormonal reactions in
the plant. It is these reactions that stimulate the dormant
bud to grow. When pruning the dormant buds should face along
the outside of the plant's stem, the buds will grow to the
outside of the plant. Envision the path the future growing
bud will take. This will help prevent future headaches,
such as branches growing into each other and rubbing against
each other. The best time to prune is in the spring or just
before new growth begins to appear.
Remove branches that cross or rub one another, and dead
or diseased wood on the Hibiscus.
The pruning cut for all branches less than two inches
in diameter should be made at a 45-degree angle from
the growing bud.
The growing bud should be pointing toward the outside
of the plant. One wants the plant to grow outwards not
inwards or on vertical lines.
The cutting edge of the pruning shears should be on
top of the part of the plant to be cut; the hook will
be underneath. When done in reverse order a stub will
result. The blade should be held as close to the plant
All pruning tools should be kept sharp and clean. When
pruning diseased plant material always sterilize the
Pest and Disease Management: There are
several ways to prevent insects and/or diseases in your
interior plants or garden. Most important: start with healthy,
disease free plants. Proper light, water, and soil requirements
usually insure a happy, healthy plant. Incorrect light can
either cause the plant to have sunburned leaves, or cause
the plant to become leggy and spindly. Both these conditions
will weaken the plant causing more susceptibility to insect
and/or disease infestations. Incorrect watering will lead
to disease infestations. In your garden, do not apply overhead
irrigation in the evening hours; this sometimes can lead
to diseases. For established gardens and newly transplanted
gardens there are preventative measures that can be taken.
Tour your garden on a weekly or daily basis looking for
signs of ill health or insects, on new growth, on top and
underneath the leaves, and for holes in the plant's leaf
surface. Here are some clues or symptoms to look for. A
caterpillar usually makes holes that start on the edge of
the leaf and chews toward the center of the leaf. Some caterpillars
work at night. If you suspect a caterpillar and can't see
one check the soil underneath the plant; most likely he
is hiding in the soil. Holes that start in the middle of
the leaf are usually the work of a slug or snail and the
plant can disappear quite rapidly. Brown circles on the
leaf that enlarge in circumference are usually fungi.
pest management (IPM) is becoming more popular. The concept
is to prevent chemical spraying or to cut down the use of
chemical spraying, to monitor the plants for insects or
disease, to use biological controls whenever possible, and
to use alternative methods of controlling the pest at hand.
Some alternative methods of controlling insects include
using insecticidal soaps, dormant or summer oils, and biological
controls. Some biological controls include: predators that
consume other insects such as, Ladybugs just love aphids
and the parasite Encarsia formosa, love whitefly
that plague poinsettia. Scientists are researching more
and more biological controls for the grower and the homeowner.
is the best cure. Tour the garden looking for signs of damage
by insects or disease. Identify the problem, and choose
the appropriate action. Spray only the plant or plants that
have the problem. Several gardeners have reported good results
with insecticidal soaps and the oils; it is better for you,
the environment, and the plant.
Gardening From Hibiscus...and More!!!
© 2005 Cheryl Ann Meola