Tropical hibiscus: repotting and light conditions

linnea56(z5 IL)May 18, 2007

I just bought a tropical type hibiscus. I have no experience with these, but have always wanted one. It is bushy and multi-branched rather than trained to a tree form. It is in a substantial 1 gallon pot. The plant itself is maybe 18" across.

Should I assume it needs repotting right away? Should I take it out of the pot to check, or will that stress it too much? I am hoping to have it out on the deck all summer and winter it indoors.

Where would it be happiest? I have a wide deck with different conditions. There is morning shade for all parts of the deck. I can offer it then, full afternoon sun; filtered sun under a latticed trellis; or bright shade sheltered under a tall tree shading one end of the deck.

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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I would check and see if it needs a larger pot. It won't hurt it to look. I would put it in the sunniest spot you have and plan to water a lot once it gets hot out.

Check out the web site below for lots of good info.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tropical Hibiscus

    Bookmark   May 20, 2007 at 10:06PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Thanks for the link! I have copied the info to save.

Does hibiscus prefer a clay pot or a non-porous one like plastic or resin?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 11:05AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I use plastic because I'm a klutz and I break clay pots, plus I can't keep up with the watering. The roots do like ventilation, so if you can water enough, clay would be fine too.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 7:24AM
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nobreyner(z9 Houston)

I'd go with the plastic pot as the clay pots absorb water from the soil requiring a more frequent watering.

Plastic pots are lighter and conduct less heat. The only reasons to use clay pots are preference or you may need something heavy enough to keep a growing plant from blowing over.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 1:10PM
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I have a potted hibiscus that suspect is very root bound. Greenery is deep green and I'm seeing buds. I did a severe pruning early spring but I think I need to do a root pruning. Is it too late?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 2:03PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

shecrab - if you want blooms before winter, it is a bit late to prune. Since you did top pruning, then the roots should be fine to generate some nice new growth for blooms. I have found with my hib that if I have to water it more often than in the past (leaves droop every couple days), then it either needs to be potted up a size or root pruned. I would wait until late winter/early spring to prune in any case.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 9:40AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Thanks for the help. I found that the new hibiscus was needing to be watered everyday, sometimes twice. And it's not even hot outside yet! I knew there was no way I was going to keep up with this.

I found a lightweight foam plastic pot maybe 2 inches larger all around and drilled drainage holes. When I took the hibiscus out of the pot I saw it was very root bound. I loosened up the rots and replanted it in some potting soil to which I added some of those water-absorbing crystals (Soil-Moist). Hopefully this will help too. If they "like" to be pot-bound to bloom, maybe I am losing that, but at least I will keep it alive.

I took a trip to Mexico in early spring and saw hibiscus in the wild blooming everywhere. Those can't be pot-bound!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 11:50AM
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scoobagirl(Z6/TX panhandle)

linnea56, how are your hibiscus doing after repotting? I just got 2 at WalMart (very small ones) and am planning to repot, but don't want to be watering constantly. I'm interested in how yours have done.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 6:16PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

It has really taken off. Blooming like crazy. I think the consistent moisture really made a difference. Now I can keep it in full sun. It still needs water more than most of my plants, but it's more like every other day now, not 2x a day. Plus no wilting.

Go ahead and do it!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 10:26PM
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nobreyner(z9 Houston)

I heard that being root bound promoted more blooms, but the little cheap plastic pots were blown over every time I went outside. I just had to re pot them to the next larger size and that fixed the problem. Unfortunately they were small and were not root bound in their original containers. The plants are doing well despite the repotting and are putting out blooms. I imagine that as long as the pot is not too big that it will do fine if properly watered and fertilized.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 7:26AM
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scoobagirl(Z6/TX panhandle)

Linnea56, thanks for the info! I'll repot mine tonight. I can handle a daily or every-other-day watering just fine. Mine are in 4" pots now.

The little tag with mine says: "Full Sun, High Water, 10'-15' tall, 3'-4' across. Great in pots or borders. Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Plants grow into shrubs over time."

I think I'll put them on my east patio to begin with. My deck is on the west and is more sunny, but its more exposed to the wind as well.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 10:10AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

They do blow over easily with the wind, and repotting is fine as long as you don't go TOO big. Hibiscus roots do grow fast, especially in the heat.

Another solution is to get a heavy ceramic pot(or concrete or whatever, as long as it's heavy) and drop your plastic pot inside. Prop it up on styrofoam, and wedge styrofoam around it to keep it from tilting.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 10:26PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

Hey there,

I have a hibiscus standard on the back deck and it blew over quite a few times. Hopefully now that I've transplanted it into a ceramic/clay type pot it will give it a bit more stability. Still, the other night there was a severe thunderstorm watch, I quickly put my tree into the shed so that it wouldn't blow over in the event we got damaging winds (I somewhat baby my plant).

I read the following hint to keep your plant from tipping over. It's meant more if you want to create the illusion that your hibiscus is growing in your flower bed so it wouldn't apply if you have a tree on the deck...

Buy a slightly larger pot than the one your hibiscus is currently growing in. Don't transplant your hibiscus into this pot, but take this new pot and dig a hole in the ground, sinking the pot up to the rim. You then take your hibiscus and it's current pot and slide it inside this new pot. Depending on the fit of the "pot within a pot", you may have to fill any gap between the two pots with slats of wood or styrofoam (or what ever you feel will work), but it offers the illusion that the tree is directly growing in the ground while also preventing it from tipping over. This might look better yet if you were to plant annuals or small shrubs in front of the hibiscus.

By the way, after transplanting is it normal for a few of the leaves to yellow and fall off? I am not too concerned as it seems to be getting new growth and blossoms. I thought I read somewhere that anytime a hibiscus goes through a change (positive or negative) it might be susceptible to losing a few leaves. Plus, my plant just got used to being on the same spot on the deck (same amount of sun daily) and then I had to put it in shade for a bit while they were re-shingling my roof.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 2:13PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

So I got a better look at my hibiscus and found the reason for the yellowing leaves - spider mites. I thought I saw a few mini-webs on it a few weeks ago, but thought maybe it was just spider webs or something, so gave it a good spray down with the hose. I guess it didn't do the trick.

So I carefully sprayed with insecticide. I am paranoid about having a plant sprayed with insecticide too close to my pond so for now the hibiscus is in a different corner of the yard. So much for my tropical looking deck, the hibiscus was the center piece. Anyways, then I notice my smaller hib seems to have aphids, but I think I can just wash the leaves well with soapy water.

I am hoping the above two occurences is just "one of those things". Other years I've had hibiscus outside with no problems, I even took in for the winter after just spraying lightly with soap/water.

The good thing is that my bigger hibiscus seems to be getting a new flush of blooms.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 12:08PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

Just an update, I sprayed my hibiscus, twice. The first time with cygon which IÂm embarrassed to admit I used.

The second time with neem oil, after doing internet research about the virtues of this natural insecticide. In fact, itÂs sometimes sold as a leaf shine but still has bug fighting abilities. Anyways, the plant looks much better, still some yellow spots on the leaf but I think thatÂs from damage done before I sprayed for bugs. After taking a break from blooming itÂs now getting an entire flush of new blooms.

I laugh though, the plant pot may as well have wheels on it. Since I bought the plant IÂve moved it a few times. First because of the threat of frost. Then severe thunderstorms with wind. Then because they were re-doing our roof, soffit and fascia and I thought I'd make it easier for the work guys. Then when I sprayed for bugs. Hopefully the plant can stay in one spot for a while, especially since the weather is beautiful and summer like (humid and highs low 80Âs, lows 60Âs) which I am sure my plant is enjoying.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 12:53PM
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