Hibiscus from A to Z (Caring, Propagating, Repotting, Common Problems, etc.)

Hibiscus Care Guide – Watering, Fertilizing, Lighting, and More

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I get a lot of emails where people ask about how to grow hibiscus indoors. True, it might not be the easiest plant to grow in your home, but it is definitely possible.

Therefore, I decided to answer all those questions today, by giving you the ultimate guide about hibiscus indoor care.

Here, you will learn what it takes to successfully grow hibiscus indoor, what problems could appear and how to resolve them.

How to Grow Hibiscus

How to Grow Hibiscus

Hibiscus tree indoor care can be a bit difficult, especially if you don’t know what to do in certain situations, so I want to start this guide by providing some basic information you need to know if you want to grow your own hibiscus.

Here, you will learn what types of hibiscus plants have the best chance of being grown indoors, what is the best soil to use in the process, as well as how to choose a proper pot and location for your plant.

1. Selecting the right type of hibiscus

Did you know that there is, like, 200 species of hibiscus, and most of them aren’t suitable to be grown indoors, so before you get just any hibiscus, make sure to select the ones that can.

One of the best hibiscus to grow indoors is a so-called Chinese hibiscus, or if you prefer its Latin name, Hibiscus rosa-sintesis.

On the other hand, some hibiscus species are not suitable for indoor care, such as the rose of Sharon, or Hibiscus syriacus, and perennial hibiscus, also known as Hibiscus moscheutos.

2. Soil selection

Another quite important thing to consider when potting not just hibiscus, but also all other plants is the type of soil you want to use.

Every plant is different, so you will need to do some research and see what type of soil the plant you want to pot needs.

Hibiscus prefers mostly well-drained soil that is not too wet, so in order to avoid some problems, you should select the soil that is able to provide proper drainage, which means that you should completely avoid soils with clay.

However, even then, you could use a mixture of that soil with sand and even gypsum to increase the maximum drainage.

There are different types of soil for indoor plants, so make sure to do your research before you go to the stores and buy the one for your hibiscus.

3. Pot selection

Now, you will also need a proper pot to grow your hibiscus, and there are a lot of types of pots that you can consider.

Whether it is a normal pot or self-watering pot, you will need to think about what your hibiscus needs and pick the right pot according to that.

The most important thing about the pot for hibiscus is that it should have a quite good drainage system because, as stated above, hibiscus don’t like to be soaked in the water.

As for the size, hibiscus usually grows wide roots, so you don’t have to buy too deep pots but focus on getting wider ones.

For starters, you should consider getting a pot that is around 10” wide. But if the plant is larger, you might need to consider even bigger ones.

4. Location selection

Last, but not the least, you need to choose a proper location for your hibiscus. In general, the hibiscus plant needs quite a lot of sunlight, in order to grow healthy.

Therefore, depending on the season, you should put it in different places. For instance, during the winter, put it where there is the most sunlight.

On the other side, during the warm weather, you might need to move it from the window, in order to avoid sunburns.

How to Take Care of Hibiscus

How to Take Care of Hibiscus

Now that you understand the basics of growing hibiscus in your home, let’s move on to more advanced stuff and explain what you should keep in mind when it comes to hibiscus care.

Some of what I will say here will be covered individually later, but it is important to see the big picture, so it will be shortly described here.

1. Water your hibiscus with clean water

This goes without saying for, not just hibiscus, but every other plant. Use clean tap water when watering hibiscus and you won’t have a problem.

2. Maintain the proper temperature in the plant’s environment

The good thing about hibiscus is that it can successfully grow at room temperature, so you won’t have to think about it too much, except during the winter, when you should try to keep the plant away from your heaters, in order not to get dry.

3. Fertilization of hibiscus plant

Hibiscus is usually fertilized every two weeks during the warm weather and every four weeks during the winter, and you should use a proper fertilizer, which will be explained later in the text.

All you need to know now is that hibiscus winter care is a bit different when it comes to fertilizing, but more on that later.

4. Soil needs to be maintained moist

Hibiscus likes moderately moist soil, so you should never allow it to be completely dry because it could cause some serious problems to your plant.

5. Hibiscus needs to be repotted from time to time

If the plant gets too big for the current pot, you might want to repot it to a larger pot, in order for it to maintain steady growth.

6. See what is the condition of roots

When repotting, you should check the roots. If they are healthy, fine, you can go ahead and repot the plant, but if you see the signs of rotting, you should remove damaged parts.

7. Prune if some parts become too big and unbalanced

Sometimes, pruning hibiscus is needed because certain parts of the plant might become too large, which could cause bending and eventually breaking.

8. Don’t use chemical products too much

Even though there are a lot of useful products that could help you deal with certain hibiscus issues, make sure not to over-use them because every chemical product has good and bad sides.

Watering Hibiscus

Watering Hibiscus

Every living being needs water, and plants are also living beings. However, some plants require less water, some require more, depending on the type.

In order to avoid problems caused by a lack of water and overwatering, you need to educate yourself to recognize when to water your plant.

That’s why I’m going to tell you more about watering hibiscus. You will learn what type of water you can use and how often you need to water hibiscus.

That way, you will bring yourself closer to becoming an expert, which would allow you to properly care for hibiscus.

It would be best to use clean tap water to water your hibiscus, which means that you won’t need to get water with some special minerals.

During the time of the active growth, you will need to water your hibiscus as soon as the soil gets dry, which can be checked by a simple touch on the surface.

The time range for this is not consistent, so the plant may need watering after 5 days or even after more than two weeks.

If you are too lazy for it, you could also use certain drip irrigation kits.

Proper Lighting for Hibiscus

Proper Lighting for Hibiscus

Apart from watering, knowing what type of environment your plant needs is one of the crucial factors in successfully growing different plants.

Some plants like direct sunlight, some prefer to be put in indirect light. Some plants prefer room temperature, while some prefer a warmer or colder environment.

Hibiscus like the sunlight. During the wintertime you need to put it where the most light is, which is usually the south side. So, it would be good if you had a window on that side.

When the weather is warm, during the spring and summer, make sure to move your hibiscus away from direct sunlight because it could cause sunburns.

As for the temperature, you should keep the plant in the room temperature and your hibiscus should be fine.

Also, hibiscus doesn’t quite like dry air, so you should try to avoid it putting it close to your heaters because air is quite dry around them.

Fertilizing Hibiscus

Fertilizing Hibiscus

To ensure the healthy growth of most plants, a lot of people use fertilizers, which not only helps with keeping your plant on the right path, but it also speeds up the growth a bit.

However, before you get random fertilizers for your hibiscus plant, you should do some research on what types of fertilizers are good for the plant.

You need to be careful when using certain products because they could potentially damage your plant, and ruin all the hard work you put into growing it.

So, to prevent that from happening, let’s see what is the best fertilizer for growing hibiscus, and what is the best time of the season to use it.

How to choose a proper fertilizer for hibiscus

You need to select a fertilizer for hibiscus according to its needs. Hibiscus generally needs more of some minerals and materials, while fewer others.

First of all, hibiscus needs quite a large amount of potassium because it is very useful for building a strong metabolism and ensuring the healthy growth of the plant.

Hibiscus also needs a low amount of phosphorus because the plant is known for not putting up with it too much, and if used in large amounts, it could damage hibiscus.

Lastly, hibiscus needs nitrogen, but only in medium amounts, unlike some other plants that need more, since it is one of the most important minerals for living cells.

Therefore, to choose the right fertilizer for your hibiscus, you will need to find one that has a good balance of these three elements.

How often to fertilize hibiscus

Now, when to fertilize a hibiscus is a completely different question because it largely depends on the season and weather.

The best thing to do is to fertilize a hibiscus when the soil is relatively wet, not too much, but wet enough to be effective.

In case the soil is completely dry, fertilizer can cause burns and damage your plant, which is what you are trying to avoid.

As for how often to do it, it depends on the season. During the spring and summer, you should fertilize your hibiscus about once in two weeks.

Fertilizing hibiscus in winter is a bit different because at that time, it doesn’t need help growing, so you can minimize fertilizing and perform it every four weeks, for example.

Hibiscus Pruning

Hibiscus Pruning

Most plants need to eventually be pruned because there might be some damaged parts, which could spread and damage the plant even further.

Also, sometimes plants become too large so sides become bending, which could cause unhealthy growth and breaking of some essential parts.

It’s the same with hibiscus. Now, since this is a bit more delicate plant, let’s explain the pruning process in detail, in order to help you to avoid potential problems along the way.

The eternal question: prune or not to prune hibiscus?

There are a lot of experienced people who have this dilemma because pruning hibiscus has both positive and negative sides.

The main concern is that hibiscus grow flowers at the tips of the branches, so if you decide to prune it, you will need to remove the flower as well.

And depending on the species, it might take several weeks or even months for the plant to grow new flowers.

Now you see why this is not an easy choice to make. However, if you grow your hibiscus in excellent conditions, you could prune the plant every couple of months.

However, if the weather is colder, hibiscus growth is probably slower, so you shouldn’t prune it unless it is absolutely necessary, in a case when some parts tend to bend the rest of the plant because they are too large.

How to prune hibiscus

To prune hibiscus, you will need a clean, sharp knife, and patience to cut with great precision. You should always try to cut around 1/3rd of the branch, in order for the plant to start new growths.

Also, make sure to remove any dead and infested parts, so they wouldn’t spread to the healthy parts of hibiscus.

Hibiscus Propagation

Hibiscus Propagation

Unlike some other houseplants I’ve covered before, propagating hibiscus is slightly different, not because the process is somewhat harder than usual, but because of other distinctive characteristics of the plant.

There are two main hibiscus propagation methods, which are propagating by using cuttings or propagating hibiscus with seeds.

Most people who grow hibiscus indoors use the first method, but I will cover both of them in detail, so you would know how to perform both procedures.

Propagating hibiscus with cuttings

This is the preferred method of propagating hibiscus, especially if you are growing it indoors. So, let’s see what you need to do to successfully propagate hibiscus from the cuttings.

  1. Remove the cutting from the new growth or the branches that are not fully matured, called the softwood.
  2. Measure the cutting to be about 3-5 inches and cut off everything except the leaves on the top side.
  3. Prepare the soil mix. A mix of potting soil and perlite with the measurement of 50-50 works the best.
  4. Put your cutting in the soil, and make sure the soil is wet enough.
  5. Use the plastic bag and place it above the cutting, but don’t let it be in touch with the leaves.
  6. Leave it like that for about 8 weeks. Just make sure to water it regularly, in order to keep the soil moist, but not too wet.
  7. After 8 weeks, there should be roots and the plant should be ready for repotting.

Propagating hibiscus with seeds

This method is usually not done by people who care for their hibiscus in their homes because it is mostly used for propagating hardy hibiscus.

  1. Nick or sand the seeds in order for them to get enough moisture. This can easily be done with a small knife.
  2. Put the seeds in the water and let them stay like that for one night.
  3. Prepare the soil and put the seeds in, but make sure that you plant them 2 times deeper than usual cuttings. You can use a simple pen to make holes for seeds.
  4. Instead of filling the holes with the soil, you should gently sprinkle it, to make sure not to force the seeds deeper down.
  5. Once that is done, make sure to carefully water the soil and after a week, two or maximum four weeks, there should be new seedlings.

Repotting Hibiscus

Repotting Hibiscus

As plants get bigger, their roots also get larger and longer, which means that they usually grow too big for the pot the plant is currently in.

In that situation, a plant’s growth might be slowed and eventually stopped, which is not good for its health at all.

Therefore, when plants get a bit larger, experienced gardeners usually transplant them to some larger pot that is more suitable to hold them.

Let’s see what is the situation with hibiscus, and find out how often you need to think about repotting it to a container.

Is repotting hibiscus really necessary?

When it comes to repotting hibiscus, you should know that you won’t have to do it too often. It is usually needed, let say every couple of years.

The best time stamp to do it is at the end of winter or early spring, so let’s say from the end of February to the end of March.

How to successfully repot hibiscus

Now, let’s go through the process of repotting a hibiscus. Let’s see what you need to use and how to eventually perform repotting.

First of all, you need to get basic gardening tools (new pot, soil, sterilized scissors and knife, mulch and pruning clippers).

Secondly, avoid repotting during the winter because hibiscus grows slower during the winter season, so it might take too long for it to recover.

  1. Get a bit wider container, since hibiscus roots grow wider, not deeper.
  2. Add potting soil.
  3. Carefully pick up your plant in order not to hurt the roots and plant itself.
  4. Check if roots are healthy and prune damaged parts if you see them.
  5. Also, if you want the plant to stay in the same sized pot, prune the roots to be smaller.
  6. Put your plant in the new pot at the same depth as before.
  7. Thoroughly water the plant, but try to avoid overwatering.
  8. Add some mulch in order to keep the soil moist enough for a longer period of time.
  9. Move the pot on the location where it can get direct light from the sun.

Hibiscus Problems and Solutions

Hibiscus Problems and Solutions

With caring for every plant come certain potential issues that might or might not occur and ruin everything you’ve done so far.

Some of these problems can be quite serious if left untreated or if they are treated poorly, in case you don’t know what you’re doing.

Because of that, I would like to fully prepare you for facing problems when growing hibiscus in your own home.

For that purpose, I will list some of the most common problems hibiscus usually has to face and walk you through what is the best solution for dealing with all of them.

1. Distinctive white spots on the leaves

One of the easiest problems to recognize when it comes to growing hibiscus is the one where leaves tend to get large white spots on the leaves.

If left untreated, this could damage the entire plant and reduce its growth, eventually leading up to complete withering.


This problem is usually caused by extensive sunlight, in other words, sunburns. For example, if your hibiscus has been growing in a location that is shady, and then you suddenly move it to the location with direct sunlight you might see this problem quite often.

Symptoms are easily noticeable. You will see white patches all around the leaves and some may even look burned.


The good side of this issue is that it is not so hard to solve and the effects usually won’t last long if left untreated.

Just put your plant in the appropriate location, and make sure that when it’s too hot, don’t expose it to direct sunlight too much.

2. Edges of leaves are brown

Another common problem with hibiscus may occur if you fertilize too much, or use inappropriate fertilizers.


The most noticeable symptom of this problem is when your leaves’ edges get brown color and kind of starting to look like they are dying.


The best solution to this is to remove these dead parts as soon as possible, so they don’t affect healthy parts of the plant.

To minimize the chance of fertilizer burns, you should thoroughly research what type of fertilizer hibiscus needs.

3. Problems with Thrips

Thrips are little annoying buggers that live inside the buds, and lay their eggs inside them just prior to the blooming phase.

They can cause different problems and can be pretty destructive to your plant, so let’s see how to efficiently deal with them.


There are several signs that your hibiscus might have thrips issues, such as when buds change their color and drop prior to the blooming phase.

Apart from that, if you notice weirdly looking marks on the flower petals that resemble scratching marks, it might also be an indicator of the same problem.


There is quite an easy solution for thrips problems though. First, remove damaged parts, so they wouldn’t harm other healthy parts of the plant.

Then, make sure to apply products like Spinosad to deal with these annoying little insects. If you don’t like using chemicals, then you should find any other sprays that contain neem oil.

4. Spider mites issues

Spider mites are an issue for most plants, not just hibiscus, and they can really damage the plant if left untreated, so let’s see what can be done to deal with these pests.


Hibiscus yellow leaves are one of the symptoms of potential spider mites problem, but the most noticeable one is the appearance of small, but distinctive webs on the plant’s stems.


The best and easiest solution to this problem is to drown these spider mites. However, you need to be careful when doing this because it is a delicate procedure.

  1. Wrap some sort of fabric material around your pot to protect it
  2. Put your plant in a tub
  3. Pour water into the tub, to completely cover the plant, but make sure that temperature is not too high, no more than 32 degrees Celsius
  4. Let the plant stay like that for about an hour
  5. Make sure to drain the remaining water
  6. Put your hibiscus on a location with a lot of light, so it could rest for a couple of hours, then return it to its usual place

If your plant is too large for this method, then you can simply try to put it under the tap and wash it with clean water or with the water spray.

5.Issues with the whiteflies

Another type of annoying insects that can damage your hibiscus is the whiteflies. They are easily noticeable, and not so hard to deal with.


The easiest symptom to notice when it comes to having whiteflies is that your plant’s leaves will have a white, mostly cotton-like feel to them.

Also, if you shake your plant a bit, you should see whiteflies emerging and flying out, so it’s really easy to see them.


As for the solution, you will need to find a source of whiteflies, which can be tricky, especially if you have a lot of plants in one place.

Make sure to check every plant and whenever you find whiteflies, you can simply use bug sprayer to deal with them.

6. Aphids infestation

Another big problem for hibiscus can be aphids infestation. They are also pretty annoying insects that can cause significant damage to your plant if you don’t act swiftly.


Aphids are easy to notice since they are large bugs that can be green, brown, black, yellow and white, depending on the species.

They are usually seen around the top side of the stem, and they create honeydew which is like a magnet to other insects, especially ants.


Aphids reproduce quite fast, do it can be hard to control them. Therefore, you will have to deal with them as soon as possible.

7. Dieback disease

This common plant disease starts with one stem or part of the plant wilting, and it can spread to other parts of the hibiscus and eventually lead to its death.


This disease mostly happens when fungi or harmful bacteria enter the plant through the broken stem. This infection can cause the wilting of the entire hibiscus.


The best way to deal with this plant disease is to completely cut damaged parts of the plant from the healthy ones.

  1. First, you need to find what part is the source of the entire infection, in order to properly isolate it from the rest.
  2. Next, make sure to remove all damaged parts until the last cut you make shows that the plant is healthy underneath. Just to be sure, you can cut a bit under that as well.
  3. The last thing you should do is “stitch the wound” by using sterile and completely clean canning wax or Copper biocide.

8. Underwatering

Sometimes, when you don’t water your plant enough, it can cause your hibiscus to die from the underwatering.

Let’s see what are the most common symptoms of it and how to successfully deal with this pretty widespread issue.


The effects of underwatering are pretty easily noticeable. You will notice that your hibiscus will quickly start to die, leaves will be brown and yellow, and the soil will be completely dry.


In order to avoid these symptoms to spread from already dead parts to completely healthy ones, you should remove damaged parts and start watering the rest of your hibiscus per set instructions.

9. Wilt disease

A bit harsher disease than dieback disease is wilt disease, which can be quite deadly for hibiscus if it is left untreated.


Symptoms are very easy to notice since the whole plant will begin to wither at a fast pace, while soil will be very wet.

Leaves usually remain green, but over time, they will become darker, which is one of the main indicators of this disease.


If you notice these symptoms, you need to remove dying parts immediately, or your plant’s life might be in danger.

The best treatment, however, is the use of pre-emptive measures, which should ensure that wilt disease never happens at all.

In that regard, try to follow the following instructions in order to protect your plant from wilt disease:

  1. Avoid overwatering
  2. Regularly clean your pots
  3. Perform regular pest control
  4. Be careful not to damage your plant when repotting
  5. Make sure to fertilize properly

10. Black marks on the leaves

Not quite serious as previous problems, leaf fungus can also be seen on the hibiscus plant, and it is an easily treatable condition.


You will usually notice black spots on the leaves, which can really look bad but don’t stress too much about it, since it usually happens during the winter because leaves take longer time to dry, due to the increased humidity.


The simplest method to resolve this issue is to remove extremely damaged leaves and wait for new ones to grow.

Also, leaf fungus will usually die during the warm weather, and new black spots will fall to the ground, allowing new and healthy leaves to grow, so it’s not much of an issue.

11. Yellowing of older leaves

Just like all living beings, plants also need healthy minerals to survive and grow strong, and lack of some minerals could cause problems.


If you notice that some of the older leaves tend to get the yellow color and show veins that are dark green, then it probably means that your hibiscus is suffering from a lack of magnesium.


The best thing you could do in this case is to feed your plant magnesium supplements, such as Epsom salts, which are usually put in the soil.

  1. Before everything, use clean water to make the soil wet.
  2. Then, use a magnesium-based product on the soil right underneath the hibiscus. Depending on the pot size, use different quantities of magnesium, as stated on the package.
  3. And last, water just a bit, not too much.

12. Yellowing of younger leaves

Now, the opposite of magnesium deficiency is iron deficiency. It could also cause certain problems that are easily noticeable, so let’s get on with it.


Symptoms are the same as with magnesium deficiency, but with the change, that lack of iron usually affects young leaves.

So, if you notice that younger leaves of your hibiscus get the yellow color and there are visible green veins, while some older leaves are still normal, then your plant is suffering from the lack of iron.


Same as with the deficiency of other healthy minerals, the best solution is to use supplements to feed your plants.

Related Questions

life cycle of average hibiscus

1. What is the life cycle of average hibiscus?

The average life cycle of hibiscus depends on different factors, such as where you put it and whether you appropriately take care of it or not. Some may live as long as 12 to 15 years, but there were cases of hibiscus that lived for over 50 years.

2. Why does it take so long for my hibiscus to bloom?

There are several reasons for this, but the most common reason is the lack of sunlight, so make sure to put your hibiscus in a proper location. Apart from that, your plant might be attacked by tip-borer, so make sure to regularly use products that could help protect it.

3. What is the best time to prune hibiscus?

This largely depends on the hibiscus species. For some, such as the rosa-sintesis species, the best time for pruning is in spring, while for some other species, winter is a more preferable time for pruning.

4.  How effective is the use of self-watering systems, such as sprinklers?

Sprinklers are quite effective as a watering system for hibiscus. However, you need to be careful about overwatering buds and pick the right time of the day to water it, which is usually late in the afternoon.

5. Do I water just soil or the whole plant?

Most of the time, it is a better option to water the soil because overwatering buds and other parts of the plant can cause harm to your plant. However, you can water the body as well, especially if the weather is very hot.

6. How to remove open blooms without damaging them?

When it comes to blooms that are opened, they can be quite hard to remove. The best moment to remove them is when they are about to open. After that, just put them in cups until they are fully opened.

7. How long does the hibiscus flower last?

Hibiscus flower usually lasts one day, but there are hybrids that can last a bit longer, let’s say three days at most. However, the plant constantly blooms for around two or maximum three weeks, so you should have a nice supply of flowers.

8. How much time cuttings need to grow some roots?

This usually depends on where you put them. In normal conditions, hibiscus cuttings should produce roots in 10 weeks at most. If it takes longer than 14 weeks, feel free not to use those parts, since the possibility of growing strong plant, in that case, is quite low.

9. Should I pot cuttings as soon as I see they got roots?

Yes, the ideal time to pot cuttings is when they grow roots because they are the strongest at that point in time. More they are left unpotted, they will be in less perfect condition to the pot later, meaning that your plant might not be as strong as it could’ve been.

10. How long does hibiscus stay in one pot?

It depends on several factors, such as the size of the container and the species of hibiscus, whether it is low-growing or vigorous. First can stay in one container a bit longer than others.

But you should look to repot hibiscus when you notice that its condition has become a bit worse, like when it stops being productive as it should be.

11. How to deal with the insects, more specifically, ants?

Ants usually come to your hibiscus for the honeydew that is extracted by other pests named aphids. To remove ants, you will have to deal with aphids first, so you can use products such as Endosulfan, Chlordane, and Lebaycid.

12. Why is my plant keep dying, I kept it wet enough?

What could be the issue here is overwatering. Perhaps you kept your plant vet too much, which can lead to rotting of the root, which can cause some serious damage.

Therefore, try to improve drainage, by getting pot with holes and add completely fresh soil before you repot your hibiscus.

13. What’s the best time of day to use bug spray?

The best time to spray your hibiscus against bugs is definitely early in the morning. You can recognize the right them by looking at the flower, which should be open.

Also, before spraying, make sure that you regularly water your plant, especially a few days prior to the spraying itself.

14. What’s better to use, insecticide dust or liquid-based products?

Insecticide dust is a more popular choice to use because it usually gives better results than the liquid-based insecticides.

15. Are foilage fertilizers a good choice for hibiscus?

It depends on what they are made for. Every fertilizer is different, so before you use random ones, make sure to read the description of each product.

And this, my dears, was all that you will ever need to know to grow the most beautiful hibiscus!

If you haven’t tried growing this magnificent gentle beauty, now is the time because you know all you should to never hurt it. And in return for your good care, you will enjoy this princess of flowers before long.

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