How to Trim Hibiscus Plants


Like most shrubs, hibiscus plants need regular pruning to maintain optimal growth and appearance. The shrubs are hardy and vigorous, so gardeners should not be afraid to prune the plant, says North Dakota State University. Heavy pruning in the early spring encourages the hibiscus to send out lots of new growth and produce a bountiful amount of the plant's trademark blossoms.

Step 1

Wait for the early spring months of February or March to give the hibiscus shrub its annual pruning. The University of Florida advises against pruning the plant at any other time of the year unless such pruning is critically necessary for removing dead or weak branches.

Step 2

Envision the shape that you wish to form out of the hibiscus shrub. Typically, gardeners choose to shape their hibiscus into a symmetrical shape.

Step 3

Identify the nearest leaf node--a small bump on the branch where leaves emerge--to where you want to cut the hibiscus branch.

Step 4

Chop off the end of the branch 1/4 inch past the leaf node. This allows new growth to sprout from the end of the pruned branch. Repeat for all the other branches on the shrub, trimming as necessary to shape the shrub.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never remove more than a third of the hibiscus plant's branches in a 30 day period, because this may excessively stress the shrub, according to the University of Florida.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • "Hibiscus: Hardy and Tropical Plants for the Garden"; Barbara Lawton; 2004
  • University of Florida: Hibiscus in Florida
  • North Dakota State University: Questions on Hibiscus
  • Hidden Valley Hibiscus: Pruning
Keywords: prune hibiscus plant, trim hibiscus shrub, hibiscus shrub pruning

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.