The hibiscus is a widely grown tropical flowering plant suited for indoor as well as outdoor gardening. Sharing plant family with cotton and mallows, it belongs to the Malvaceae family, which is known for showy, bright-colored flowers. The genera hibiscus comprises of more than 200 species, which are quite diverse in their growth habit and characteristic features. Some varieties are herbaceous, while others exhibit shrubbery or tree habit. You can opt for either an annual or perennial plant as per your preference.
Although the hibiscus is native to warm climatic conditions, it is adaptable to a wide range of conditions. Thus, today it is grown as a landscaping plant all over the world, irrespective of the local climatic conditions. For your flower garden, you can select from the hardy, garden, and Chinese hibiscus. Also, check for their bloom colors which are available in shades of white, pink, yellow, orange, red, and purple.
General requirements for growing this flower include direct sunlight (for 5-6 hours), warm temperatures (65° F-75° F), moderate watering, and fertilization after every month. The frequency of irrigation entirely depends on the prevailing environmental conditions. Hence, you may need to water more frequently in warm climates than in cold conditions. The trick is to not let the soil dry out completely or remain wet. The best way is to lay a mulch layer of 2-3 inches to conserve moisture and control invading weeds at the same time.
Tips for Pruning
Established hibiscus plants should be pruned down at regular intervals to maintain shape, promote the growth of branches, development, and ensure timely flowering. In fact, pruning is an important step in caring for this tropical flowering plant.
As the garden and hardy hibiscus varieties are not very tall, you can successfully cut their branches with regular pruning shears and lopping shears (for larger branches). However, ensure that the blades are sharp enough to make smooth cuts. You can use a ladder to prune the very tall varieties. You will need alcohol gel to sterilize the cut surfaces and blades.
The perfect time to prune this plant is in the spring, after the plants have lived through the cold chilling temperatures. Some hobbyists prefer pruning in the fall (early fall, not late fall). After excess twigs are removed, there will be more light penetration and room for the branches in the winter. There is no definite time period to cut down dead and diseased branches.
Proper planning is crucial before you start cutting branches. As new buds will spring from the cut portions, you do not want to have irregularly developed branches. Never cut twigs a few inches from the tips, as it will give an overcrowded appearance. Mark the crossing and weak branches that are to be pruned down.
For established plants, you can retain only a third of the older branches. Start out by cutting the diseased branches, inward growing twigs, and damaged branches. After cutting the diseased twigs, sterilize the shear with alcohol gel before moving to the next branch. Make sure you cut the twigs near the main stem as far as possible. Pinch the branch tips to promote the development of more flower buds in the branches. Rub the cut surface with alcohol gel to prevent diseases.
There are many benefits of pruning. However, there are some drawbacks such as: the pruned branches will remain under-grown and small for some time, and more importantly, there will be no flowering on the pruned twigs. Despite this, pruning your hibiscus plants is like revitalizing them to produce more flower buds in the next season.