How to Start a Hibiscus Plant


Hibiscus grows throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. The origins of the hibiscus are not clear, though it is thought to have originated in China, according to the University of Florida. Hibiscus flowers open for a single day before dying and falling from the bush. What the hibiscus lacks in flower longevity it makes up for in abundance. Start a hibiscus from a soft wood cutting to grow your own plant at home or share a rooted cutting start with a fellow gardener.

Step 1

Cut a 3- to 5- inch softwood cutting from an existing hibiscus plant. Softwood cuttings are that year's growth that is just beginning to harden. Make the cut at a 45-degree angle below a leaf node or bud. Take softwood cuttings between May and June.

Step 2

Fill a 4-inch pot with equal parts vermiculite, perlite and coarse sand. Use a pot that has drainage holes in the bottom to allow water to drain through. Water the rooting mixture until water begins to seep out of the drainage holes.

Step 3

Remove all but the top 4 leaves from the cutting. Roll the bottom inch of the cut end of the softwood hibiscus cutting in powder or liquid rooting hormone compound.

Step 4

Make a 3-inch-deep hole in the center of the pot using a pencil or your index finger.

Step 5

Place the bottom 3 inches of the hibiscus cutting into the pot and fill in around it with the soil mixture until it stands on its own.

Step 6

Put a clear plastic bag over the cutting and fasten it around the lip of the pot with string or a rubber band to create a humid environment. Put the cutting in an area were it will get dappled shade and the temperatures do not drop below 65 degrees F.

Step 7

Remove the plastic bag every 3 to 4 days. If the soil feels dry, water the cutting until it is damp but not saturated. Replace the plastic bag and fasten it. The cutting has rooted successfully when it has 2 or 3 new green leaves on it. This should take 6 to 8 weeks, but can take as long as 3 months.

Step 8

Transplant your hibiscus start into a 8- to 12-inch pot when it has 4 new mature leaves on it. Fill the pot 1/2 full with equal parts damp top soil and compost.

Step 9

Turn the cutting on its side and gently wiggle it free from the starter pot. Put the root ball into the new pot so that the base of the cutting is 1 inch lower then the lip of the pot.

Step 10

Fill in the soil under and around the root ball until the cutting stands on its own in the pot. Water the hibiscus cutting until the soil is damp all the way through. Put the potted cutting in an area that receives indirect sunlight.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • 4- inch pot
  • Vermiculite
  • Perlite
  • Coarse sand
  • Hormone rooting compound
  • Pencil (optional)
  • Potting soil
  • Compost
  • 8- to 12-inch pot


  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Hibiscus in Florida
  • University of Nebraska: Propagation of Shrubs from Soft Wood Cuttings
  • University of Vermont Extension: Rooting Cuttings
Keywords: soft wood cutting, hibiscus propagation, growing hibiscus

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.