Hibiscus Plants – A Trumpet of Color

Hibiscus plants are a beautiful addition to any outdoor or indoor environment. They produce large, colorful, trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom for extended periods of time. There are approximately 200 species of hibiscus, which vary in size, color and cold tolerance. Blooms may be seen in red, white, blue, pink, yellow, purple, and mixed colors that may extend up to a foot wide. One can understand why these plants attract butterflies and hummingbirds to any garden.

These plants are typically divided into two groups: Hardy Hibiscus and Tropical Hibiscus. Tropical Hibiscus enjoys a warm, humid environment with temperatures above 50 degrees F while the Hardy Hibiscus survives in a cooler climate in which temperatures may drop below freezing in the winter. Tropical hibiscus plants need to be brought indoors during the winter months because they cannot tolerate much more than a light freeze, or the plant will die. The Hardy Perennial Hibiscus (often called Rose Mallow) dies back to the ground each year, but eventually re-emerges to produce those large colorful blooms. Rose of Sharon is another Hardy Hibiscus variety that produces giant blooms during the mid-summer months. The leaves and stems die down to the ground with the colder weather; however, the roots may live in freezing temperatures with little to no protection. These plants do take their time developing in the spring. Sometimes the plant doesn’t come to life until early summer! Make sure to cut back, old woody stems before new foliage arise.

Provide your Hibiscus plant with at least 5 to 6 hours of sunlight, especially if you want to enjoy many blooms. When Hibiscus are in their blooming stage, they require large amounts of water. Daily watering is needed during the warm weather. Try to keep the plant moist, but not soaking wet. A nice layer of mulch is beneficial to keep the ground ideal. Once the weather cools, cut back on the watering. Only water when the soil is dry to the touch.

Hibiscus prefer an acidic soil that drains well. A mixture of peat, sand, garden soil, and organic compost create the perfect blend of soil. Hibiscus need nutrients to bloom. In the summer months, use a fertilizer with mostly nitrogen and potassium. Potassium will result in better health and more blooms. A natural way to increasing potassium to your soil is to incorporate your unused banana peels.

Moderate pruning should be done to keep the plant tall and growing. Pruning helps to promote new growth and causes more blossoms to appear as well. Cut the branches just above a node or leaf joint and angle the cut away from the center of the plant. This will send a signal to the plant to grow more branches at this location – away from the center of the hibiscus. Pruning back the plant immediately before the dormant cold weather is a must!

Did you know that the flowers and leaves of the Hibiscus plant may be found in teas and liquid extracts that are useful to treat high blood pressure, weight loss and fevers? Also, the Hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower. Traditionally worn by Hawaiian girls. A fun fact is, if the flower is worn behind the left ear, the women is married or in a relationship. If the flower is worn behind the right ear, she is recognized as being single or available for a relationship. Something your staff may have fun with when you host a Hibiscus Day in your store!

If you have never grown a Hibiscus plant, take some time this year and add some gorgeous color to your living space and consider that one-of-a kind plant that will beautify any environment!

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