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How to Prune Hardy Hibiscus

By Paula Ezop ; Updated September 21, 2017

The hardy hibiscus, or Hibiscus moscheutos, is a beautiful perennial with blossoms that range from 3 to 10 inches in diameter. The plant, which can reach a height of 3 to 6 feet, comes in colors such as pink, raspberry, mauve, dusty rose and white. It begins blooming in mid-July or early August and continues blossoming until the first frost in fall. You might need to prune a hardy hibiscus to promote a bushier plant, cut away any broken stems, remove spent blooms or prepare a plant for winter.

Pinch back or cut off the growing stem tips. This should be done when the plants are 8 inches in height and again when the plants are 12 inches in height. This will encourage additional growth and lead to a denser/bushier hibiscus plant.

Check visually for broken stems. Cut away the broken stem or stems to maintain the appearance of the plant. Deposit the plant material in your compost bin.

Deadhead by pinching off or cutting away the spent blooms. Place the spent blooms in your compost bin.

Cut the plant down to 4 to 5 inches after the first hard frost to prepare the hibiscus for winter. The hibiscus will begin growing from the roots the next year, so you are just cutting away dead wood.

Mulch the plant bed. You can use shredded/mulched leaves, which are readily available in the fall, straw, hay, or evergreen boughs. This will protect the plant from harsh winter winds and freezing temperatures.


Things You Will Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Mulch


  • The hardy hibiscus is one of the last plants to appear in spring, so be patient. It may not appear until late May or early June.
  • Consider using hardy hibiscus alongside ornamental grasses for a dramatic effect, or pair them with daylilies.
  • Do not confuse the hardy hibiscus with the tropical hibiscus.

About the Author


Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.