How to grow and care for Hibiscus Indoors

Houseplant, Hibiscus

Botanical name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Family: Malvaceae

Hibiscus commonly called Rose of China is an ideal flowering houseplant on account of its large, ruffled, trumpet-shaped blooms which come in many vibrant colors. With proper care there will be a succession of its papery flowers for a few months which come in red, white, yellow , pink, orange, purple and peach. They may be single, double or semi-double. Hibiscus is an evergreen shrub growing to a height of about 8 ft with 3 in. saw-edged glossy leaves. Hibiscus is widely cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical regions but it is not known in the wild, so its native distribution is uncertain though it is thought to be some part of tropical Asia. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has numerous varieties. The variety cooperi has variegated foliage. The varieties are in white, red, yellow, pink, orange, purple, peach and others.

How to Grow Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Light

Hibiscus prefers bright light with some direct sunlight. Hibiscus will not bloom if the light is not enough. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Keep the soil moist at all times for Hibiscus and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to Root-rot Disease. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth between 16-290C during the growing season is ideal for Hibiscus. Keep it cool at about 150C during the dormancy period. Protect it from cold and hot draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for Hibiscus. Mist the leaves regularly or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity if the air is too dry.

Feeding

Feed Hibiscus with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal and it can lead to fertilizer burn. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Hibiscus once a year during the growing season. To keep the plant small, cut off a third of the roots. Use a pot 1 size larger and one that has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging as it can lead to Root-rot Disease. The soil should be rich in organic matter and free-draining. For large plants, annually replace the top 3-4 in. of soil with fresh soil.

Pruning

Pruning Hibiscus is easy. Remove dead flowers and leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. Pinch off the growing tips to encourage compact growth and prevent the plant from getting too huge. After flowering, cut back the stems to rejuvenate growth and to keep the plant compact. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Hibiscus can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem-tip cuttings.

Propagating Hibiscus from stem-tip cuttings
Take a 4-5 stem-tip cuttings from a healthy Hibiscus plant. Insert the cuttings in moist free-draining soil. Place the set up in a warm well-lit spot. Maintain the soil moist through out until the new plants are well established.

Common Problems in Growing Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

  • Leaf loss
  • One cause of leaf loss in Hibiscus is; incorrect watering either underwatering or overwatering; maintain the soil consistently moist but not soggy and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely. Another cause of leaf drop in Hibiscus is sudden drop in temperature; protect Hibiscus from cold draughts to maintain average room temperature.

  • Curling leaves
  • Curling leaves in Hibiscus are due to the air being too dry. To raise the humidity, mist the leaves more frequently or set the pot on a wet pebble tray.

  • Yellowing leaves and leaf drop
  • Yellow leaves and leaf drop in Hibiscus is due to too little light. Hibiscus prefers bright light with some direct sunlight.

  • Buds drop
  • Bud drop may occur in Hibiscus due a number of reasons. One is underwatering; maintain the soil consistently moist and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely. Number two is underfeeding; feed Hibiscus every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Number three is sudden change in temperature; protect Hibiscus from draughts.

  • No blooms
  • If Hibiscus receives too little light it will not bloom; Hibiscus prefers bright light with some direct sunlight.

  • Pests
  • The common pests in Hibiscus are Aphids and Spider Mites.

Toxicity

Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) plants are non-toxic to humans and pets.

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