How To Care For Hibiscus Plants

Growing hibiscus is an easy way to add a tropical flair to your garden. When you know how to care for hibiscus plants, you will be rewarded with many years of lovely flowers. Let’s look at some tips on how to care for hibiscus.


Growing Hibiscus in Containers

Many people who are growing a hibiscus plant choose to do so in a container. This allows them to move the hibiscus plant to ideal locations, depending on the time of year. Provide the plants with at least six hours of sunlight, especially if you want to see those lovely blooms. Although warm, humid conditions are ideal for tropical hibiscus, you may want to provide a little afternoon shade when it’s overly hot. Again, containers make this easy to do.

Hibiscus plants prefer a cozy fit when growing in a container. This means that they should be slightly root bound in the pot and when you do decide to repot, give the hibiscus only a little bit more room. Always make sure that your growing hibiscus plant has excellent drainage.

Temperatures for Growing Hibiscus

When you care for a hibiscus, you should remember that hibiscus flower best in temperatures between 60-90 F. (16-32 C.)and cannot tolerate temps below  32 F. (0 C.). In the summer, your hibiscus plant can go outside, but once the weather starts to get near freezing, it’s time for you to bring your hibiscus indoors.

Watering Hibiscus

When hibiscus are in their blooming stage, they require large amounts of water. Your hibiscus will need daily watering in warm weather. But once the weather cools, your hibiscus needs far less water, and too much water can kill it. In the winter, water your hibiscus only when the soil is dry to the touch.

Fertilizing Hibiscus

A growing hibiscus plant needs lots of nutrients in order to bloom well. In the summer, use a high potassium fertilizer. You can either use a diluted liquid fertilizer one a week, a slow release fertilizer once a month or you can add a high potassium compost to the soil. In the winter, you don’t need to fertilize at all.

These are the basics for how to care for hibiscus plants in your garden. As you can see, they are a easy maintenance, high impact flower that will make a garden in any part of the world look like a tropical paradise.

Tropical hibiscus fertilizing is important to keeping them healthy and blooming beautifully, but a tropical hibiscus plant owner may wonder what kind of hibiscus fertilizer they should be using and when they should be fertilizing hibiscus. Let’s look at what’s necessary to be fertilizing hibiscus trees properly.

What Hibiscus Fertilizer to Use

The best hibiscus tree fertilizers can be either slow release or water soluble. With either, you will want to fertilize your hibiscus with a balanced fertilizer. This will be a fertilizer that has all the same numbers. So, for example, a 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 fertilizer would be balanced fertilizer.

If you will be using a water soluble fertilizer, use it at half strength to avoid over fertilizing the hibiscus tree. Over fertilizing hibiscus plants result in burning the roots or providing too much fertilizer, which will cause in fewer or no blooms or even yellow, dropping leaves.

When to Fertilize Hibiscus


Hibiscus do best when given hibiscus fertilizer frequently but lightly. Doing this helps to make sure that the hibiscus tree will grow well and bloom frequently without over fertilizing.

If you are using a slow release fertilizer, you will want to fertilizer 4 times a year. These times are:

  • Early spring
  • After the hibiscus tree finishes its first round of blooming
  • Mid summer
  • Early winter

If you are using water soluble fertilizer, you can fertilizer with a weak solution once every 2 weeks in spring and summer and once every four weeks in fall and winter.

Tips for Fertilizing Hibiscus

Hibiscus fertilizing is pretty basic, but there are a few tips that can help make it easier.

Whether your hibiscus grows in the ground or in a pot, make sure that you put fertilizer out to the edges of the hibiscus tree’s canopy. Many people make the mistake of fertilizing just at the base of the trunk and the food does not have a chance to reach the full root system, which extends to the edge of the canopy.

If you find that you have over fertilized your hibiscus and it is blooming less, or not at all, add phosphorus to the soil to help bring the hibiscus blooms back.

Hibiscus Care Outdoors

Hardy hibiscus plants are surprisingly easy to grow as long as you provide them with well-drained soil and a spot in full sunlight. The secret to success is to water enough to keep the soil evenly moist.

This plant doesn’t absolutely require fertilizer, but a general-purpose fertilizer will promote vigorous growth and support blooming.

Don’t worry if your hardy hibiscus plants die to the ground after a hard frost in autumn. Just cut them down to a height of 4 or 5 inches, and then wait for the plants to regrow from the roots in spring once temps begin to warm back up again.

Don’t assume your plants have died if they don’t show up with the first hint of spring, as hardy hibiscus generally doesn’t make an appearance until May or June – then they catch up in a hurry with masses of blooms until fall.


Leaf drop is a common ailment of many plants. While leaf shed on deciduous and herbaceous plants in autumn is expected, it can be very worrisome in midsummer if plants begin to drop their leaves. It can also be very frustrating when you have done everything by the book for your plant, only to be rewarded with abnormal yellowing and dropping of leaves. Though any plant may experience this problem for various reasons, this article will specifically discuss hibiscus leaf drop.

Hibiscus Losing Leaves

Hibiscus plants are generally separated into two groups: tropical or hardy. Many of us in cooler climates still grow tropical hibiscus, but as annuals or houseplants that are moved in and out of the house depending on the weather. Sensitive to cold and environmental change, leaf drop on hibiscus can merely be a sign of stress from this change.

A tropical hibiscus that has spent all winter in a toasty, warm home may go through shock when set outside in cooler spring weather. Likewise, a container grown hibiscus can go through shock and stress just by being located too close to a drafty window.

Whether tropical or hardy, hibiscus leaves falling off usually indicates some sort of stress to the plant. If you are noticing leaf drop on hibiscus plants, there are a few questions you’ll need to ask.

Reasons for Leaf Drop on Hibiscus Plants

Has the plant recently been transplanted or repotted? Leaf drop is a common symptom of transplant shock. Usually, once the hibiscus plant begins to adjust to its new environment, the shock will pass.

You’ll also want to consider if the plant has been exposed to any extreme temperature changes, which can be very stressful for hibiscus, as mentioned above. Controlling temperature changes is also an easy fix, and the plant should recover quickly.

If leaf drop on hibiscus is happening and you’ve ruled out transplant or temperature shock, you may want to examine your watering and fertilizing habits. Has the plant been receiving adequate water? Does water pool up around the plant when you water it? Hibiscus leaf drop can be a symptom of too much or too little water, as well as inadequate drainage. Hibiscus plants have high watering needs, even once established the plant will likely need regular watering’s during hot, dry periods. As much as they like water, though, they do need adequate drainage.

When was the last time you fertilized? In addition to water, hibiscus plants need regular feeding, especially during its bloom period. Fertilize hibiscus plants once a month with a well-balanced, fertilizer for flowering plants.

Other factors to examine when a hibiscus plant drops leaves is pest or disease. Scale is a common pest of hibiscus. Scale looks just as the name suggests, like tiny scales forming on the plant. Aphids also commonly attack hibiscus plants. Both these insects are tiny sap sucking pests that can quickly infest a plant, cause disease and eventually result in the plant’s death. They often attach themselves to a plant around its leaf joints or on the underside of leaves on the leaf veins because of the high flow of plant sap in these areas.

As the bugs feed on the sap, they essentially starve the plant and leaves will drop. Additionally, the pests are commonly to blame for secondary fungal diseases too, which may appear as a fuzzy, gray mold. This mold is actually a fungal disease that grows on the sticky honeydew secreted by the bugs. It would be wise to treat the plant with a fungicide and pesticide, such as neem oil.