The hibiscus is a native to the tropics, but Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is bred specifically to be grown as a houseplant or in a summer garden. The exotic hibisucs flower usually only blooms for one day, but the plant has an unusual feature that keeps it looking well groomed with little attention. When finished blooming, the flower closes up and drops off, and the shell like structure that supports the flower will wither and drop a few days later.
Plant the hibiscus in a well drained soil mixture of one part vermiculite or perlite, two parts peat moss and two parts potting soil. Keep the temperature between 55 and 75 degrees F for best growth. Temperature fluctuations will hinder flower production of the hibiscus, so keep it away from large appliances, radiators, drafts and entryways where it could be subjected to extreme temperature changes.
The hibiscus needs a minimum of four to five hours of bright light. The more direct light it gets, the better the plant will bloom.
Keep the hibiscus moist but not saturated. The soil should never dry out enough so that the hibiscus wilts. Water it from the top, making sure that water runs out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot and away from the plant. The hibuscus needs less water during the winter months than it does during the summer.
The hibiscus is a heavy feeder and should be fertilized with 1/2 strength formulas of balanced fertilizer every month. If the plant is placed outdoors, feed it every two to three weeks with the same 1/2 strength balanced fertilizer formula.
The hibiscus plant will grow bushier if it is pruned in the winter. If the plant is leggy, don't be afraid to give it a heavy pruning. It won't harm the plant, but as both the leaves and flower buds are being cut back, the hibiscus will take longer to bloom.
Cut a 3- to 5-inch section from the strongest shoots to propagate the hibiscus. Dip the cut ends in a rooting compound and stick them in a small pot that is filled with light potting mixture. Place in a well lit area and keep moist for about three to five weeks. Pinch off the top of the stem to encourage the plant to bush out.
Once the root system is established, the new cuttings are ready to be transplanted.
The hibiscus benefits from being outside, but it's important to acclimate them to the bright sunlight by first putting them in a shaded area, then into filtered light before exposing them to the direct outdoor sunlight. When bringing the hibiscus back indoors, reverse the process.
The hibiscus can be planted, pot and all, in the garden. Being a tropical plant, it is important that the hibiscus be brought back inside as the temperatures drop.