Hibiscus - Garden Basics - Flower - Perennial

By Kat Yares, Garden Guides Contributor

About Hibiscus

The genus Hibiscus contains over 200 different flowering plants. Also known as the rose mallow, the genus includes both annual and perennial plants, shrubs and trees. Two of the more popular varieties of the hibiscus include the scarlet rose mallow (Hibiscus coccineus) and rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus). Both plants do well in USDA Zones 5 through 8. The flowers can range in color from white to bright red, and the hibiscus has alternate leaves.

Many varieties of hibiscus are used around the world in herbal medicine, as a food product and as a natural shampoo.

Site Preparation

Chose a site for planting that has good drainage, full sun and a source of steady water. Soil needs to be slightly alkaline and fertile.

Special Features

* Many countries claim a species of hibiscus as their national flower.
* Entire gardens can be planted in different species of hibiscus and each plant will have a unique and vibrant look.
* Hibiscus can bloom continuously from late spring to early fall, and can be used for an indoor arrangement of cut flowers.
* Some varieties of hibiscus can be container-grown.

Choosing a Variety

Hibiscus varieties range from plants small enough to grow in a flowerpot on the desk to trees 6 to 8 feet tall. Hibiscus can be used in garden landscapes to highlight borders or create informal hedges.


Start the seed indoors 10 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant after all danger of frost has past. Plant the hibiscus by digging a hole twice the size of the root ball. Center the plant in the hole and cover. Water thoroughly to remove any air captured around the roots. Provided the soil is fertile, little or no fertilizer is needed. Mulch heavily around the base of the plant to help retain moisture, but keep the mulch approximately 3 inches from the trunk of the plant.


Prune the hibiscus during the winter to encourage growth the following year. Use a liquid insecticide soap to spray the plants for its common adversaries: ants and aphids, spider mites, white fly and mealy bugs. Should a fertilizer be needed, small amounts of a balanced blend with trace minerals should be used. The hibiscus plant should be protected from wind and ice during the winter months. This can be accomplished by the use of blankets or burlap.

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