Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Hibiscus Care Instructions

hibiscus image by Christophe Fouquin from

Gardeners enjoy growing hibiscus shrubs because the plants are very hardy and can handle a wide range of growing environments. The plant is best recognized for its floppy, bright flowers and dark green leaves, which can make for an attractive hedge or accent shrub. Give the hibiscus the care it requires to encourage fast, vigorous growth and lots of flower blossoms.

Test the pH levels of your gardening site with a pH testing kit from a garden store. Hibiscus plants grow best in a pH ranging between a high of 6.5 and a low of 5.5, and anything else can cause nutritional deficiencies, according to the University of Florida. Ask your regional cooperative extension office (see Resources) what amendments, like sulfates, phosphates and lime, are using in your area to adjust soil pH levels.

Fertilize the hibiscus plant once a month during its spring, summer and fall growing season. Louisiana State University recommends using a 12-4-18 fertilizer. Spread the fertilizer around the hibiscus shrub according to its labeled instructions, since fertilizer potency varies by brand.

Irrigate the hibiscus plant weekly with enough water to soak the soil to a depth of 18 inches, according to the University of Florida. Pile 3 inches of mulch around the shrub's base to help conserve moisture between waterings.

Defend the hibiscus shrub against insects. Serious pests include aphids and whiteflies. Spray the shrub on an as-needed basis with an all-purpose horticultural oil solution, available from most garden stores.

Care Instructions For Braided Hibiscus

A braided hibiscus tree is elegant and attractive in any setting. They can be placed poolside, on a patio or flanking a paved pathway to your front door. Although they prefer certain conditions, they are hardier than they appear and can thrive with the proper amount of water, sunlight and amended soil. To get the most from this flowering shrub, it needs a lot of sun. If they are outside, make sure they receive that full sun as often as possible. The hibiscus is a voracious nutrient eater. This can be difficult to control. Put them in a cup of vinegar, and if it fizzes, then the soil’s pH level is between 7 and 8, which is too high and alkaline for hibiscus. Gardeners are particular about the fertilizers they use. The American Society for Horticulture Science noted that the hibiscus plant tended to produce larger and more colorful blooms with worm castings. A water-soluble fertilizer should be applied at a rate of ½ teaspoon per 1 gallon of water if the plant is receiving water daily. If you aren’t sure, a 16-16-16 is a safe bet to fertilize the braided hibiscus tree without damaging its root system. After the soil has been properly amended, dig a hole that is as deep as the hibiscus root ball. The hole should be two to three times as wide as the root ball. Water the hibiscus twice a week if there is no rainfall. For drier months, water every other day. Cut any suckers, the small branches that grow along the wound branches of the bush’s braided stem, and remove them as soon as possible. This will allow the plant to focus its growing energy on the canopy of the braided bush. These will appear as yellow, white or gray splotches on the leaves or moldy buds that won’t develop and that fall off before they have a chance to bloom.

Garden Guides