With their flowers, hibiscuses give every garden an exotic flair. Here you can find out everything about planting, cutting, and caring for the hibiscus.
With its flowers in all colors of the rainbow, the hibiscus ( hibiscus ) is a real eye-catcher in every garden or room. Although it is a real exotic among the ornamental plants, the hibiscus has long since found its way into our garden landscape. To be able to grow the special shrub on your own, however, expert knowledge is required. In our article, we will tell you everything about the origin, the correct planting, care, and wintering of the hibiscus.
The hibiscus is a plant from the mallow family (Malvaceae) and is popular with us both as a houseplant and in the garden. In the USA, the hibiscus is also called marshmallows. Depending on the species, the hibiscus can grow as an annual or perennial, herbaceous plant, subshrub, or shrub. The variety of the plant ranges from 20-centimeter large potted plants to two-meter high bushes in the garden. The flowers of the hibiscus are also varied: They can have a wide variety of shapes and colors and will definitely bring color and a touch of exoticism to your garden or room.
Hibiscus: origin and characteristics
The hibiscus originally comes from China. All species and varieties that are still known and common today come to us from the Middle Kingdom and its neighboring countries. The hibiscus is now known and very popular all over the world. In its homeland in Asia, however, the hibiscus is still very important to this day. In South Korea and Malaysia it is even revered as the national flower. The “immortal flower”, as the hibiscus is called there, symbolizes determination and perseverance. In China, the hibiscus stands for wealth, splendor and fame.
And some will have recognized the hibiscus blossom on the typical Hawaiian shirt. Hibiscus flowers are very impressive indeed. They can have a diameter of up to 30 centimeters and shine in all colors of the rainbow. Often, hibiscus flowers are also filled, half-filled or have several colors. Even if we only use hibiscus as an ornamental plant, it is said to have healing and health-promoting effects. That is why hibiscus can also be found as an ingredient in countless cosmetics.
Buying hibiscus: what to look out for
When buying hibiscus, there are three things to look out for:
Especially if you want to keep your hibiscus as a houseplant, size is crucial. After all, a window sill does not offer an infinite amount of space. You should also pay attention to the type and variety of hibiscus when buying. Because the different types of hibiscus also have different requirements and have to be grown and cared for differently. In addition, each variety blooms differently. Finally, you should check the health of the plant and make sure that the hibiscus looks vital and healthy. The plant should also be free from disease or pests.
Hibiscus species and varieties
There are over 200 species of hibiscus worldwide, all of which come from Asia. The hibiscus varieties often differ in their flower color, their height, and their winter hardiness. If you want to enjoy the opulent hibiscus flowers in your garden, you have to resort to the garden hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus ), also known as the garden marshmallow. The rose marshmallow ( Hibiscus rosa-Sinensis ) is unbeatable as a pot and houseplant.
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Here is a summary of the most important information about the two best-known hibiscus species:
Garden hibiscus ( Hibiscus syriacus )
Very robust type of hibiscus; can overwinter outdoors; can be cut into a “stem”; rather woody shoot formation; rather low variety.
Some particularly beautiful varieties of garden hibiscus:
- ‘Blue Bird’: blue, large flowers; blooms early in the year; hardy
- ‘Jeanne d’Arc’: Grows up to two meters high; white, semi-double flowers; hardy
- ‘White Chiffon’: White, semi-double flowers; Flowering from summer to autumn; insensitive to frost
Rose hibiscus ( Hibiscus rosa-sinensis )
Warmth-loving hibiscus species; not suitable for outdoor cultivation all year round; large variety and color variety; is ideal as a pot or houseplant.
Some particularly beautiful varieties of rose hibiscus:
- ‘Standing Ovation’: blooming orange-red and yellow; Flowering time from the beginning of spring to the end of summer
- ‘Jolanda Gommer’: flower color varies between purple, orange and red
- ‘Fruitango’: the flowering period between April and November; pink filled with a yellow border
Planting hibiscus: instructions and location choice
The hibiscus is a demanding contemporary in the room and garden. Both the quality of the substrate and the sun’s rays play an important role in hibiscus plants: Hibiscus prefers nutrient-rich soil with a balanced sand-loam ratio. An additional enrichment of the soil with compost promotes flower formation in summer. The exotic love a location in full sun outdoors. The best time to plant hibiscus is in spring.
Instructions for planting hibiscus in a nutshell:
- Choose a sunny location
- Planting hole twice as large as the root ball
- Mix the excavated material with compost
- Pour generously
- Spread the mulch layer
Plant hibiscus in a pot
Small varieties of rose hibiscus are suitable for growing in pots. In summer, the indoor hibiscus can also be placed in a sunny spot in the garden or on the terrace. However, this frost-sensitive species has to spend the winter in the house or conservatory.
Organic potting soil is ideal for growing pots. It provides your hibiscus with ideal nutrients and is also harmless to people, animals, and nature.
Everything you need to know about planting hibiscus in a pot:
- Sunny, warm location in summer
- Lighter, cooler location in winter
- Select a sufficiently large pot
- A nutrient-rich substrate with a high proportion of humus
- Create a drainage layer
- Pour generously
You can find detailed instructions for planting hibiscus in pots, well as care tips for keeping them in pots here.
If you don’t want to buy a hibiscus plant, you can propagate your hibiscus yourself. This can be done via seeds, subsidence or cuttings. When propagating via seeds, the later plant may not have the same flower color as the mother hibiscus. Propagating cuttings, on the other hand, requires a great deal of skill and is not always successful.
Caring for the hibiscus: tips for a beautiful bloom
The hibiscus is a real diva in the garden: its flowers enchant everyone, but they also need extremely care. Below we give you an overview of how you can keep your hibiscus healthy and happy with the right care.
Pour the hibiscus
The different hibiscus species have very different water requirements. The garden hibiscus, for example, likes it a little drier in summer. A steady water supply should still be available – simply reduce the watering to water every three days. The rose hibiscus, especially if it is exposed as a potted plant to the dry, heated air in winter, wants to be kept moist at all times. However, you should definitely avoid waterlogging.
Cut the hibiscus
The best time to prune your hibiscus is in early spring when the growth phase begins. The sooner you cut back the unleaved hibiscus, the longer it has time to recover from the cut. You shouldn’t be too squeamish when cutting hibiscus. Weak and injured branches can be removed while planting. With young plants, it is not a problem if only two to three shoots remain at the end. This is shortened again by at least half so that the branching at the shoot base is promoted. The hibiscus will recover in the growth phase and over time develop densely branched branches. This radical cut can be repeated next spring with a clear conscience. In addition to this, there are other cuts, such as the taper cut and the maintenance cut.
Fertilize the hibiscus
Regular fertilization can help ensure a fuller inflorescence with multiple flowers. If you swear by mineral fertilization of your hibiscus, you should provide it with a complete fertilizer every two to three weeks from April to September. However, fertilizing with an organic fertilizer is more sustainable and environmentally friendly. In early spring, for example, you can use ripe compost in the garden and mix in a long-term fertilizer. Regular fertilization from spring to autumn is also essential for potted plants. Here, too, the organic flower fertilizer is recommended, which provides the hibiscus with the right nutrients for a beautiful bloom over the long term.
You can read even more interesting facts about the correct fertilization of the hibiscus here.
The right place to overwinter hibiscus depends entirely on the species. The garden hibiscus should be so hardy after the first one to two years that it can overwinter outside. Before doing this, it is advisable to keep it in a large bucket so that it can be put in the apartment or a greenhouse over the winter months. The rose hibiscus is best kept at room temperature all year round. Only in the warm summer months of June to August, when the night temperatures are high enough, you can put the rose hibiscus outdoors.
Care of hibiscus in brief:
- Water the hibiscus as needed
- Avoid waterlogging
- One time organic long-term fertilizer in spring
- Garden hibiscus can overwinter outside
- Rose hibiscus has to overwinter in the warm
- When planting directly in the bed: a thick layer of bark mulch for thermal insulation
You can find extensive tips and tricks for caring for hibiscus in our special article.
Hibiscus: diseases and pests
Unfortunately, unpleasant pests also enjoy the beautiful plants. We have summarized for you which diseases and pests cause problems for the hibiscus.
Aphids on the hibiscus
The main threat to the hibiscus is aphids. The approximately two-millimeters large, sap-sucking pests can cause great damage, especially to the still young shoots. The infestation by aphids can lead to the death or withering of leaves, shoots, and flowers on the hibiscus. The control of aphids can be done by rinsing, collecting, or with biological pesticides.
Spider mites on the hibiscus
Spider mites are tiny arachnids that can be identified by their characteristic orange color. They damage the hibiscus by attaching themselves to the underside of the leaves, leaving webs there and thus killing the leaves. You can fight the spider mites with rinsing, predatory mites, or biological pesticides. Above all, however, you should avoid dry heating air to prevent an infestation with spider mites.
Whiteflies on the hibiscus
The whitefly also causes damage to the leaves. The affected areas can be recognized by a slightly yellowish discoloration. You can take action against the infestation with yellow boards to which the animals stick.
Is hibiscus poisonous?
First of all the most important things first: hibiscus is not poisonous. Some wild species contain poisonous substances, but all domesticated hibiscus species that we use are non-toxic. Tea is even made from the flowers of a type of hibiscus, the Hibiscus sabdariffa. This dark red hibiscus flower tea is especially popular in Egypt and Mexico.