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Hibiscus

By Kathryn Courtney

 

Like almost everyone in our area, I’m replanting my garden this year. I’m busy replacing plants that have been in my garden for years. The situation is sad in a way but also gives me a great opportunity to try something new. I’m planting several hibiscus. The nursery has some real beauties this year. The hard part is deciding which ones I want for my new garden. The big, showy Cajun hibiscus are calling to me along with some new Althea which are in the hibiscus family. There are the large Shirley Temple and variegated leaf hibiscus along with Texas star hibiscus. Perennial hibiscus have large dinner plate size blooms that are amazing. I could fill my whole garden just with hibiscus. And the fun part is growing them is easy. Hibiscus have a few requirements but nothing demanding.

Hibiscus need full sun to filtered light in our hot summer afternoons. Water them regularly but don’t let them get soggy. A very important requirement is fertilizer. Hibiscus really need their own food. These plants originate from volcanic regions which are high in potassium. Potassium is the third number on your fertilizer container. Maas carries food specifically for hibiscus to meet the unique nutrient requirements of these plants. I use granular food because it is easy. Water your hibiscus a little first, sprinkle the food around the plant and water again to start the feeding. Slow release fertilizers will feed the plant every time you water. Do this for your hibiscus every month or more during the blooming season. My hibiscus in potsHibiscus get fed every two weeks.

 

The only real issue with hibiscus is they are not freeze hardy as most of us found out this winter. Bring your hibiscus pots in if the temperature gets to the low thirties. For hibiscus planted outside use Insulate cover over the plants and secure it to the ground with rocks. Do not use plastic as this will burn the plants and bed sheets sometimes are not enough cover. One of my colleagues at Maas is very clever. She uses cotton backed plastic picnic table cloths to prevent freezing hibiscus. The cotton side goes on the plants. She says they work great. If after all your precautions your plants still freeze, do not pull them up immediately. I have had hibiscus come back from the dead several times because the roots did not freeze. In spring, cut the dead plants back to the ground and wait. Miracles do happen.

 

Sometimes hibiscus get pests or fungus. Treat your hibiscus with Triple Action when this happens. It is an organic pesticide and fungicide all in one that does the trick every time. Spray your plants when you first notice the problem, and continue spraying every 7 days for 3 weeks. This should take care of the pests. If the bugs, such as mealy bugs come back, keep repeating the treatment. In the hot summer spray only in the evening. Triple Action is oil based and can burn your plant in the hot sun.

There are so many beautiful pictures of hibiscus from the nursery. Here are some examples of the colors and varieties Maas carries. If you want a special variety, call before coming. Our stock changes daily. My advice is come to the nursery and see what we have. It’s a fun outing and the hibiscus won’t disappoint!

Hibiscus

Hibiscus
Hibiscus Hibiscus

Other Plants in the Hibiscus Family

Rose of Sharon or Althea
Rose of Sharon or Althea
Blueberry Smoothie Althea
Confederate Rose
Blue Chiffon Althea
Texas Star Hibiscus