container hibiscus advice

tobalconyAugust 12, 2006

Hi there,

I just bought a "hibiscus hybrid" Rum Runner. It's an mpulse buy, I fell in love with the colour, great greenery and size, and the fact that it can be a container plant makes it perfect for my high rise southeast facing balcony.

So here I am asking for advice! I am rather new to container gardening ...

1. It is in an 8 inch container ... should I transplant it into a larger pot? I have 12 inch and 14 inch clay pots available. If not now, when?

2. I was reading down the messages, I just had a white fly infestation on my tomatoes (have no idea how they made up this high ... ok, they flew), can I do any preventative stuff for this beauty?

3. How long can this survive in a pot, with good care? 5 years? 1 year? I plan to winter it inside due to our cold winters.

Thank you in advance!

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1. Do you think it's rootbound? You should only move it up one pot size. Too much new soil can hold a lot of water and they do NOT like wet/soggy soil, They need really good drainage. Clay pots lose a lot of moisture, so it may be wise to grow in in a plastic pot that you put inside the better-looking clay pot.

2. Get a $5 spray bottle of Bayer Rose & Flower -- contains imidacloprid.

3. It can stay in a pot forever, but it won't be happy if the soil gets soggy or hard/compacted. You can see about wintering inside at

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 7:57AM
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Thanks Torpeau for the info and link. I don't think it is rootbound right now. I like your advice about the plastic pot inside the clay. I will look around for the spray. This hibiscus is Beautiful!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 6:19PM
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tcharles26(usa texas)

I mostly agree with the previous response, but have some extra thoughts and a few points where i differ a little, take these for what they are worth:

In container plant culture, conventional wisdom is not to "pot up" too drastically. In other words don't take a plant in a small pot and put in a very large pot.

However, it sort of depends on how vigorous the plant is. In my zone, tropical hibs grow fast and I wouldnt think twice about putting your hibiscus in 12 or 14 inch clay pot. But I really don't do these fancy sinensis hybirds and have heard that they are a little slower. My guess is that it won't matter, provided you use a well drained container medium. I say use your biggest clay pot, just use a good soiless mix.

The reccomedation to use a product containing imidacloprid is correct, but not a spray application. What are you going to spray? You don't have bugs yet! Dont use it on the tomatoes if you want to eat them! Use the systemic version and water in. Also by bayer.

I do disagree with the advice not to use a clay pot. They drain and aerate better than plastic, especially if not high fired glazed pots. If you say the plant doesn't like 'wet feet', then a clay pot is probably better. Also looks much nicer.

As for when to repot, summer is ok with these, but if you just got it, I would not disturb the root system too much, you could kill it. Just break it up a little, cut away some circling roots. Save the major repot for later, after you know it's established.

The previous poster is correct in saying that the plant can in theory be kept in a container indefinitely, provided you know how to take care of it. Bonsai enthusiasts grow redwood trees in containers smaller than your 14 inch clay pot, it just takes some work.

Im not checking the link, mine "over winter" inside only for a day or two at a time because freezing temps are realtively uncommon. However, I do grow plants indoors and would say that even a sunny window is unlikely to provide a sufficient amount of light to keep the plant happy for too long. And a plant weakened in this fashion is extra susceptile to insects like white fly. Some artificial light will help a lot, but thats another discussion........I say go all out and get a 1000W HID, you can grow tomatoes inside in the winter

To recap my suggestion: put that thing in your biggest clay pot, dont disturb the roots too much yet. Use a good container mix. Not just off the shelf miracle grow potting, add some extra drainage material (perlite is fine for this). Water in a systemic containing imidacloprid and buy a grow light big enough to make the neighbors wonder if you're growing weed.

Good luck. Hope it works. let us know.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 8:48PM
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Clay pots are not used by most people who grow tropical hibiscus. Stick with the plastic ones and, maybe, put a few extra holes in them. Unless a super-vigorous plant, go up only one pot size. It's better to repot in a few months rather than throw away a plant killed by sitting in a "swamp" of soggy soil. If your tomatoes can get whiteflies, your hibiscus can, too. When they do, get Bayer Rose & Flower. It can be absorbed thru the leaves and is systemic-- so spray when needed.
In really cold climates, potted tropical hibiscus stay on windowsills all year --- and bloom. They don't bloom as much as they would if growing in Hawaii, but they do bloom.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 12:00PM
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tcharles26(usa texas)

never mind, dont listen to what this tool says, he's out to lunch.

First, "Clay pots are not used by most people who grow tropical hibiscus" uhhh, even if he's right, and I dont know that he is, that doesn't mean it's the best practice. It's pretty well established that clay pots drain and aerate better than plastic pots. Period. I can cite a littany of books and scholarly articles that say this....

Second, "maybe, put a few extra holes in them [the plastic pot he reccomends]" well that's just dumb actually because the number of holes in a pot (more than one anyway) have nothing to do with drainage. That's because even pots with no bottom at all (I have and use these alot) have a perched water table at the bottom of the container. As a matter of physics water will not drain from the perched water table.

The thing about the spray, this is dumb too. Granted a plant will absorb a chemical sprayed on its leaves, but that's not the best way to apply a systemic pesticide, actually it defeats the purpose. See, the thing about systemics is that they are better tolerated than sprays, in other words less likely to cause foliar stress. Kind of defeats the purpose to spray it on the leaves....Second, studies have demonstrated that watering imidacloprid into the soil distributes the chemical most heavily in favor of new growth (the same part the bugs like) so it will be more effective.

I hate how people get all righteous about their advice and ignore the possibility (in this case a certainty) that someone knows more than them....what a tool box

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 12:52AM
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