Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Care of Potted Hibiscus Trees

Hibiscus 2 image by Nicolas Richer from

Tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) trees are actually shrubs that are grown for their ornamental value. Blooming in single or double flowers, in many colors and combinations of colors, the hibiscus adds a touch of retro-tropical glamor to the garden. Hibiscus will grow and thrive in containers and can be brought indoors during the winter in cooler climates. Hibiscus plants are hardy in USDA Zones 9a to 11.

Place your potted hibiscus in an area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Indoors, place the pot in a west- or south-facing window.

Water the potted hibiscus tree until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. Allow the soil to dry before watering again. Use warm water (95 to 100 degrees F) when irrigating in the winter.

Fertilize the potted hibiscus tree, with a water soluble 20-5-20 solution diluted to half the strength recommended on the label, every time you water. Water the plant first and then pour the fertilizer onto the soil.

Trim the potted hibiscus to keep it to the size and shape that you desire. Keep in mind that the more branches the plant has, the more flowers it will produce. To encourage the plant to produce more branches, prune just above a leaf node, facing the direction you want the new branch to grow.

Check the potted hibiscus’ roots once a year. Gently remove the plant from the pot and check the roots. If they are are circling the bottom of the pot, they need to be pruned. Use a sharp knife and cut off 2 inches from the bottom of the root ball. Pour 2 inches of fresh planting medium to the pot before repotting. Water the hibiscus until the excess drains from the bottom of the pot.


If healthy leaves begin to turn brown at the edges, suspect fertilizer burn. Stop fertilizing the plant for three weeks and then fertilize with a quarter-strength dilution.

Garden Guides