Be Creative,   Be Inspired,   Be Selective   |   M-F: 9-6,  Sat: 9-5    |   937-845-0093

Caring For Tropical Hibiscus

May 18, 2022


To Any Garden

Tropical Hibiscus is a great addition to any garden, deck, or patio constantly rewarding you with big, beautiful blooms throughout the spring and summer growing season. Learn how you can keep the blooms coming with these tips.

Nothing says summer like the big vibrant leaves of a tropical hydrangea in your garden or patio. There are two different types of Hibiscuses.  The tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is hardy in zone 9-11 and is treated as an annual in Ohio whereas the Hardy Hibiscus aka Rose Mallow ( Hibiscus hybrid) is hardy down to zone 4.

Native to Asia, the tropical hibiscus loves humidity, heat, and sun.

Potting & Planting

It’s important to re-pot it or plant it in the ground. The pots you purchase them in are often too small and, thus, can only hold so much water. Replanting it will allow it to get and retain the moisture it needs to flourish.

In a container: Hibiscus do prefer to have their roots crowded a little, so choose a container that is a little bigger than its original pot rather than much bigger. Also make sure your container has holes, so excess water can escape out of the bottom. It’s best to repot your hibiscus using a well-drained potting mix for best soil retention and good drainage.

In the ground: When planting, make sure to loosen up the soil and create a hole about twice as wide as your pot and about the same depth as your pot. Remove your Hibiscus plant from its container and loosen the roots at the bottom. If your soil is very compact, consider adding some compost to loosen it up.

Red Hibiscus


Hibiscus Plants prefer lots of water. They’ll need the most amount of watering during the blooming stage in spring in summer. During warm periods, you’ll likely need to water daily. During hot, humid periods you may even need to water a couple of times a day.

As with most plants, the general rule of thumb if you’re growing hibiscus in a pot is to add more moisture when the top inch of the potting mix dries to the touch. Depending on the size of the plant, the size of the pot, and the weather, that may be as little as once a week or as often as once a day. 

Although Hibiscus plants need lots of water, you should still be careful to not overwater them. Before you water, just stick your finger into the soil about an inch to two inches. If the soil is dry or just slightly moist, it’s time to water. If the soil is wet, wait to water.  Hibiscus prefer to remain moist, but not wet, and they do not like to dry out too much in between waterings.

TIPS: Depending on the heat, wind, and humidity, your hibiscus may need to be watered daily, or even twice a day in extremely dry conditions. During hot dry spells, mist your hibiscus leaves with a little water. Not only will this add humidity to the plants, but it will keep the leaves looking clean and bright.  If you keep your tropical hibiscus in a pot, know that the soil can dry out quicker than if planted in the ground.


Hibiscus plants 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.

Tropical Hibiscus


Hibiscus Plants do not require much pruning or deadheading. Just remove damaged, broken, or yellow foliage as you see them. Although spent blooms will drop on their own, plucking them off as they fade will encourage quicker new growth. The spent blooms will come right off with your hands, similar to petunias, but you can use pruning shears if you prefer.


Tropical Hibiscus plants are annuals in our Midwest area, and will not survive temperatures below 32 F. You can bring your Hibiscus plants inside once the weather gets cooler and overwinter them.

While inside, your Hibiscus plant will need less water and no fertilizing. Place them by a bright window and away from drafts or vents. You’ll find your Hibiscus will bloom less inside, or not at all, but once spring and summer come again, so will the blooms

TIP: During the winter months, as new branches grow, they will be elongated and “leggy.” When the branches are about 8” long, cut them back halfway. This will encourage a full, bushy plant. After the danger of frost has passed, the hibiscus can be moved outside. Place the plant in a shady location for a few weeks to allow the leaves to acclimate to the higher light levels. Plants can suffer from sunburn, too.

Tropical Red Hibiscus

Yellow Leaves?

Small environmental changes: Tropicals are sensitive and will react to environmental changes. Fluctuations in the weather, switching between having them inside and outside, or even re-potting them can cause your Hibiscus to get a little stressed. But it’s nothing much to worry about, they’ll recover quickly once they get a little more consistency.

Poor Drainage or Circulation: Both bad drainage and poor circulation can cause your Hibiscus plant to become stressed. Make sure your Hibiscus has enough space around it for proper airflow and is also in soil that allows proper drainage.

Improper fertilization: You may be over-fertilizing. Make sure you are fertilizing your Hibiscus frequently, but lightly. Check the back of your fertilizer to make sure you are following directions.

Improper Watering: Unfortunately, overwatering and underwatering can both lead to yellow leaves, so it can be hard to pinpoint which it is. Hibiscus do like lots of water, but they do not like to sit in constantly wet soil. If the soil is already wet, wait to water. If it is just slightly moist, this is when you should water it again. Anytime your hibiscus shows signs of suffering from dehydration, dropping leaves, or bone dry soil, this is causing stress and affects the health of your plant. Make sure you are watering consistently.