The Hibiscus:

Plant of Wonder

By Kari Wanner



This beautiful plant originated  in Asia and the Pacific Islands. It is Hawaii's state flower and the national flower of Malaysia. Thousands of combinations of colors come from this plant, and some varieties blossom from 2" in. to 12" in. in diameter. The older garden varieties could live up to 50 years and grow to heights of 0-15 feet or more, while some of the newer hybrids have lifespans of 5-0 years and only grow a few inches a year.

Growing Tropical Hibiscus in North Dakota!?

How to tell if you have a tropical or hardy hibiscus:

*glossy deep green leaves
             *3-6" flowers (many have more than one color)

      *dull medium green heart shaped leaves
      *dinner plate sized flowers
      *huge bomb shaped buds (2-4" in length)

Hardy hibiscus don't need much care over the winter, and are root hardy to about zone 5 with no protection. They die to the ground each year.

Tropical hibiscus will not tolerate more than one or two nights of a light frost. A hard frost (below 25) could kill the plant. They do not like cold, rainy weather, and wet soil. It's good to bring them in before the temperature drop regularly below 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit at night, to avoid damage that may occur.

Insect and Disease

To rid your plants of bugs you can use unscented liquid dishwashing soaps, such as Dawn. It can be mixed one teaspoon per gallon of water. For your plants overall health, it is always better to use big pots. Never smaller than ten inches. Hibiscuses may live up to ten years when using fourteen inch pots.


Make sure not to over-water, try to keep your plant on the dry side. There plants like humid weather, so it is beneficial to mist the leaves daily, or use a humidifier. Another way to increase the humidity is to fill a large tray with gravel and set the pot on top of it, filling the tray with water up to the top of the gravel. As the water evaporates the humidity will increase around the plants.

Soil Mixtures

The best recommendation is to use a light soilless mix such as PRO-MIX or Sunshine Mix. It's best not to use the usual potting soils. The ideal pH for the soil is 6.0 to 7.0. Tropical hibiscus do best if they have very good drainage.

Summer Care

The plant will now be cold-sensitive, so avoid temperatures below 40 F at night and extremely rainy and cold weather. Also watch for too much sun that could burn the leaves. Once the plants have adjusted, they do like a lot of direct sunlight. But if the temperatures are in the 90's you should give them a little shade during the heat of the day. They will then have more and larger blooms.

Winter Care

Giving your hibiscus a shower works very well to get rid of insects, and making it look better. Make sure you seal off the pot around the stem, and spray both sides of the leaves with warm water, not hot. You can do this a couple times a winter if you like.

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