Hibiscus Care

Gutzmek(6)November 19, 2013

All,
I would love to create a thread for best practices regarding basic Hibiscus care and really focus on 'wintering' our friends. I can share my experiences and hopefully others do. I encourage others to use this thread for questions and add their knowledge.

I am currently at my time ability to keep up with the over 50 tropical plants, and want to pass along some should haves.

Last winter I had fewer plants and struggled to keep up with several pests. These were fungus gnats, white flies, and spider mites. In preparation for this winter I focused on the insects that annoyed. These were the gnats and flies. Before I brought the plants in, I researched techniques to assist. I invested in a systemic pesticide for the flies and invested in some worm castings and neem oil. I started the systemic about a month ahead and added the worm castings. My fertilizer also contains a low levels of simple detergent. A week or so before, I thoroughly sprayed the plants with neem oil.
A week after this, I am annoying pest free. Problem is, I did not attack the worst pest. I battled the spider mite last year, and this year, I have a real challenge with twice the plants.
Learning forward, I should have addressed the mites. Horticulture Oil and water are the best methods I have learned.
When using hort oil, spray only in the afternoon shade. Allow for a few hours to dry. Do this 3-4 times over two weeks prior to moving the plant inside. Make sure you get the oil on everything, including the pot, under leaves, and on the stems. Repeat a few times over several weeks to ensure you terminate the full mite life cycle. Next year, I will purchase a hose sprayer and mix myself.

Lesson learned.
Ed

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hibiscusmaniac

Kontos works great for spider mites. It is a systemic that you water into the soil. No messy spraying. It is expensive but well worth it. You can get it on ebay.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 10:35AM
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Gutzmek(6)

I am not a fan of Kontos.
Ed

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 10:51PM
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acgt1962(8)

Hi Ed I was wondering your plants are in pots mine are almost all in the ground should I treat the same? I have covers that I use for plant protection. This is the first year that they are in ground. Thanks in advance-Araceli

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 10:37AM
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acgt1962(8)

Hi Ed I was wondering your plants are in pots mine are almost all in the ground should I treat the same? I have covers that I use for plant protection. This is the first year that they are in ground. Thanks in advance-Araceli

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 10:38AM
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realityfaery

Ed, I have mine in pots too. They get morning and afternoon sun then are in shade by the late afternoon. Should I use some type of protection for them during the winter??

Thanks
realityfaery

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 3:29PM
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Gutzmek(6)

Hibiscusmaniac,
Adding to your point, the wife's house cat occasionally finds the plant's leaves to be a tasty treat. I have heard a few grumblings about the affects on animals. I would love to hear your opinions. Also, I am impressed with your varieties.

Araceli and Realityfaery,
All of my tropical hibiscus are in pots with my location. I would treat yours the same, but slow down on the watering/feeding.
Be mindful of the plant. I have no problem leaving a 3+ year old plant out in 50 degree or lower, but younger plants need more protection. All tropical varieties will not survive feezing temps.

Ed

This post was edited by Gutzmek on Sat, Nov 23, 13 at 20:38

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 4:42PM
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realityfaery

What type of protection should I be looking to use for my plants? They are maybe right around 2 years (I'm assuming), since they are fairly good sized bushes.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 5:18PM
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Gutzmek(6)

Realityfaery,
What type of night time temps are you looking at?
Ed

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 8:05PM
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realityfaery

Hi Ed,
Tonight, we are getting ready for 24F, at our coldest, this is around the night temps we see during the winter. Last night, I moved all of my hibiscus into the playhouse in the backyard. Tonight I'm going to do the same. My mom has two inground that I will be covering again with a sheet.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 11:49AM
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Gutzmek(6)

Realityfaery,
I hope your plants are surviving this. Low 20's is too much for me. I guess I need more information.
Ed

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 8:00PM
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realityfaery

Hi Ed,
I actually converted a large playhouse in the backyard into a make shift greenhouse for the time being by putting 6 mil thick drop plastic in the windows to keep out the frost. Its actually done great for my potted hibiscus, two look like they may be blooming in a couple of days. Which was a big surprise to me, but sadly, my initial attempt to keep the frost off of my mother's in-ground hibiscus was unsuccessful. They are not dead, but severely damaged, so now, each night I cover them each with a cardboard box. Then cover the boxes with a sheet to trap in as much heat as I can. So far, its kept further damage to them and they are still green at the bottom of the bush. I think that did help, but I will make sure to keep an eye on the weather and baby them throughout the winter.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Gutzmek(6)

Realityfaery,
The most important environmental aspect for tropical hibs during the winter is the temps. As I said, these plants will likely show signs of stress from below 50f temps. For myself, I have the temperature under control, but I constantly monitor plants for disease, pests, and nutrient items.
Ed

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 9:40PM
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ms_xeno

Okay, so it's not Winter anymore, but here goes:

I have 3 Hibiscus that have been around for 6-8 years. One gets Southern exposure (almost full sun year-round) and blooms like a powerhouse every year even with almost total neglect. It's over 4' tall despite starting out the first couple of years as basically a twig with a few leaves.

The other two get Eastern exposure and Part Sun. They are sad, sad creatures: One never grew past 1 1/2' tall and puts out only a couple of blooms each year. The other bloomed nicely the first couple of years, but now it is dying back a branch at a time and never blooms at all.

Any ideas what's happening here? I've had stores suggest everything from Epson salt to lime and bonemeal in the soil, so I'm confused. Do I have some "invisible" pest around: One that affects only these two poor shrubs but not any perennials/bulbs nearby, much less the sun-loving Hibiscus on the other side of my yard? (I treated all my shrubs with Nematodes earlier this year, hoping for some progress if there are indeed pests at work down where the roots are.)

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 1:17PM
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merkity

sounds like they don't like where they are planted. mine are in pots, and i move them around to see what they like better. they like a lot of sun...

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 12:55AM
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ms_xeno

Hi, Merkity. Thanks for the info. I actually did move the smaller of the strugglers a bit further out of the shade late last fall. It has a little new growth on it now, so we shall see. It's hard to get it as much sun as it needs because there's a huge poplar on the curb that tends to leave it in shadow a great deal in the summertime.

I may have to dig up the other one and give it away to somebody who can give it more sun. It's in a spot that seems to alternate between "freeze and fry" all summer and fall. :/ I've had both a nice mini-evergreen and Jasmine fail in more or less the same spot. [grumble] Probably time to throw in the towel and just put some cheesy plaster statue in that spot instead. :p

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 7:44AM
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