Nothing adds an exotic allure to a summer garden, much like the fantastically flowering hibiscus plant. There are two commonly grown types of hibiscus, one ideal for outdoor growth and the other ideal for indoor growth.
This means you can have fantastic hibiscus flowers growing throughout your home and garden. Here is everything you need to know to cultivate, care for and grow hibiscus at home.
How to Grow Hibiscus
How to grow hibiscus will depend on which types of hibiscus you are choosing to grow. So, here’s a look at what you’ll need to know for each type:
Growing Perennial Hibiscus
As the name suggests, this variety of hibiscus is a lot more tolerant when it comes to environment and weather conditions. Nonetheless, you’ll want to choose a slightly sheltered spot that gets plenty of sunlight throughout the day.
Hardy hibiscus prefers well-draining, loam-based soils. If planting directly into the ground, you may want to consider preparing your soil with some compost and organic matter before planting.
Planting of this cultivar should be done during spring.
Growing Tropical Hibiscus
This cultivar is perfectly suited to warm, high-humidity conditions, which make it perfect for spaces like your bathroom. Plus, it grows best in bright, indirect sunlight, meaning it doesn’t necessarily need to live on a windowsill.
A well-draining, peat-based potting mixture should be used for tropical hibiscus. Planting should be done in late spring or early summer.
Certain species of tropical hibiscus can also be grown in a pot outdoors during the summer and brought indoors during the winter.
Types of Hibiscus
Before planting, it’s a good idea to know the difference between the types of hibiscus. Although both types are native to Southern China and accustomed to warmer, humid weather, only one cultivar is well suited to be grown indoors.
- Hardy Hibiscus. This deciduous cultivar, also known as Hibiscus Syriacus, is a perennial species ideal for outdoor growth. This variety grows much like a shrub, producing single flowers ranging in colour from red to white to pink to lavender.
- Tender/Tropical Hibiscus. The evergreen Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis is a tropical cultivar better suited to the indoors. This ideal houseplant comes in both single or double bloom varieties. Its blooms usually come in magnificent oranges, pinks and yellows.
How to Plant Hibiscus
If you’re planning to growing hibiscus in the ground:
- Prepare the soil with some rich organic matter or compost.
- Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball, which is about equally as deep.
- Settle the base of your hibiscus into the hole.
- Backfill with a rich organic soil mixture.
Water well after planting.
For indoor plants or container growing:
- Choose a pot that is no bigger than twice the size of the rootball.
- Using a well-draining potting mix, place the root ball on a small mound of soil and backfill until the soil sits well around the base.
- Gently press down the soil with your hands to remove any air pockets.
Hibiscus Care Guide
For the ultimate array of hibiscus flowers during the summer, your hibiscus plant will need some extra attention, especially the indoor variety.
In general, both cultivars require regular watering during the growing season. Over autumn and winter, you can almost cut back completely. As a rule of thumb, conduct a regular test by pressing a finger into the soil.
If some soil sticks to your finger, there is sufficient moisture. Avoid allowing the soil to dry out completely.
Caring for Outdoor Hibiscus
If growing hardier types of hibiscus outdoors, it is recommended to regularly mulch around the base. This will help to deter any weeds and retain soil moisture. A slow-release fertiliser can be added annually during the spring to support growth.
This species responds particularly well to pruning, which should be done once all of the hibiscus flowers are spent. Don’t be dismayed should your hibiscus die back during the winter; it will bounce back.
Simply prune back dead stems until about 10 cm above soil level. How to prune hibiscus is fairly straightforward.
Here is our review on the Best Gardening Secateurs for 2021.
Caring for Indoor Hibiscus
Indoor, tropical hibiscus will need far more regularity when it comes to watering. Be sure to keep the soil moist and conditions as humid as possible. Some growers recommend keeping your hibiscus in the bathroom when you shower to help boost humidity.
Feeding for this cultivar can be done fortnightly, with a general-purpose fertiliser. This species responds well to an annual prune, where you can cut back growth to as much as 5-7.5 cm above soil level.
For container growing, it is also recommended to re-plant every year or two.
If you have left your tropical hibiscus outdoors for the summer, be sure to trim back growth and cleanse the leaves of any pests before bringing them indoors over winter.
Keep your hibiscus in a warm location with plenty of indirect sunlight. Allow the soil to dry slightly before watering.
Potential Hibiscus Problems
Most issues only arise when the conditions for growth are unideal. Usually, this will have to do with the level of humidity.
Some species experience a bud drop-drop should the humidity levels be too low. This happens, particularly with the tropical varieties.
The only other issue you may have in low-humidity conditions is an invasion of red spider mites, which thrive in dry soil conditions. Improving the humidity and soil moisture should help to curb this issue.
Wrapping Up Our Hibiscus Growing Guide
Should you be looking for some other tropical plants to add to the mix, here’s a quick guide to help you find some of the most fantastic Australian native tropical plants.
For more alluring flowers for your garden, check out our guide on growing the Wahlenbergia Gloriosa, commonly known as Royal Bluebell.
Hibiscus really is a statement piece to add to your home or garden, and now is the perfect time to start planning. Be sure to choose the right variety for where you intend to plant.
For the outdoor variety, make sure you give it lots of adequate sunlight. For indoor varieties avoid the direct sun but choose a spot that still receives enough brightness. There you have it, everything you need to know on how to grow hibiscus.