When you trim your hibiscus plants will depend in part on where you live and what kind of weather you have. Spring is the most common season for pruning but small upkeep can take place throughout the seasons with no plant damage. Take off any dead branches early in the spring after the hibiscus sprouts. There are several benefits to trimming, and several things to keep in mind when you prune your plant.
When to trim
Consider the weather when you plan to prune your plant. If you want to do a complete cutting of your hibiscus, you need to be ready to proceed in the spring. Trimming the plant at this time will help it renew itself in time to bloom during the summer months.
While spring is the most common time to prune hibiscus, you could wait until late summer or early fall. One of the disadvantages to waiting this long is that plants sometimes won't produce as many new branches, which will mean fewer blooms. Because of this you should consider removing any dead or weak growth after the hibiscus starts to sprout in the spring.
Any time between February and August will be all right to pinch, or prune, the tips of branches to encourage stronger and thicker growth. It's never a good idea to take the trimmers to a hibiscus in the later fall months or winter. The biggest consideration is to never trim so that new growth would occur during a time when a frost is possible.
There are several benefits to keeping your hibiscus pruned, including a better shape for your plant, more blooms, fewer insects and better growth. There are a few disadvantages, including no blooms on trimmed branches for a few weeks. It's also common to see an unbalanced plant until the new growth comes in.
Begin by cleaning a pair of sharp pruning shears. You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean the shears. Put some on a clean rag and wipe down the blades. Repeat this as you trim. Should you cut through dead or dying wood, be sure to sterilize the shears before the next cut. This will stop the spread of any diseases.
Next, consider the plant. New growth will start underneath cuts so you want to plan for that. Taking a few inches off the top usually is a bad idea because new growth at the end of the branch won't look good. Cut most branches by about a third and leave at least two to three nodes on a branch. Nodes are the bumps on stems where leaves grew. As you make cuts, try not to strip wood or bark from the stem.