How to Prune a Tropical Hibiscus Tree


A tropical hibiscus tree is a perennial flowering shrub that has been carefully pruned until it achieves a tree-like shape. Plant tropical hibiscus outside in the garden in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 to 11, according to the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Services. If you live in a colder climate, plant your hibiscus tree in a pot and bring it inside for the winter. Tropical hibiscus trees have bright, showy flowers that come in a wide variety of stunning colors.

Step 1

Stand back and look at your tropical hibiscus before you begin pruning. Visualize the overall shape and size you want to achieve.

Step 2

Use a sharp tree saw to take off the the lower branches. As the plant matures, continue to remove the lowest branches until the shrub begins to resemble a tree in shape.

Step 3

Shape the canopy by trimming the outer most growth. Use sharp pruning shears to trim back every third branch or so. At the next pruning session you can get the branches you missed this time.

Step 4

Clip off any suckers that are growing around the base of the tree from the primary root system.

Step 5

Remove any dead or diseased looking wood. Clean your tools with disinfectant after each cut when cutting off diseased wood to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the plant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid taking out more than 1/3 of the total foliage mass at each pruning session.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Tree saw
  • Disinfectant


  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Hibiscus in Florida
  • University of Illinois: Tropical Hibiscus
  • University of Florida Cooperative Extension:Hibiscus in Florida

Who Can Help

  • National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: caring for tropicals, tropical shrubs, flowering tropical shrubs

About this Author

Olivia Parker has been a freelance writer with Demand Studios for the past year, writing for Garden Guides and eHow. She has studied herbal and alternative medicine and worked as a landscape artist and gardener. Parker is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts from Boston University Online.