Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Plant Hibiscus Trees

By Katelyn Lynn ; Updated September 21, 2017

The hibiscus (Malvaceae) can be grown as an annual, a perennial, deciduous shrubs or as evergreens, depending on the region where it's grown. Hibiscus trees come in a wide variety of colors, ranging from pink, white, red, to apricot and orange. Some species of hibiscus, such as the Chinese hibiscus, can reach heights of up to 30 feet and have flowers measuring 4 to 8 inches wide. Most varieties of hibiscus can be grown in the ground or in containers, but they prefer tropical-like weather growing conditions and cannot tolerate cold weather (below 30 degrees F).

Planting Hibiscus Indoors

Soak the seeds in warm water for two to three hours. Hibiscus seeds are considered to be very delicate and require care in order for them to germinate. Soaking helps to soften the hull of the seeds and aids in germination.

Fill each planting receptacle (peat pot or planting cell) with seed-starting mix. Use your spray mister to mist the topsoil until it's thoroughly moistened. Place one to two seeds into each receptacle, and push them gently into the soil with the tip of a finger. Cover with no more than 1/16 of the seed-starting mix.

Place the seeds in an area that combines filtered light and heat. Your hibiscus tree seeds must be kept in an area in which the temperature does go much below 75 degrees F. Germination time varies but typically ranges from 7 to 28 days.

Check your hibiscus seeds several times every day. Make sure to use your plant mister to keep the soil moistened. After your hibiscus tree seedlings are approximately 2 to 3 inches in height, you can transplant them into larger containers. If there is no danger of freezing cold temperatures, you can plant them outside in your garden.

Planting Outside

Dig a hole that is as deep as the root ball but two to three times wider. According to the National Gardening Association, you should fill the hole half-full of water, then allow the water to drain.

Remove your hibiscus tree from its planting receptacle, or pot, carefully. Place the tree into the hole, ensuring that the base of the stem is level with the ground. With your trowel, push dirt around the trunk of your hibiscus tree, tapping down as you go to remove any air pockets.

Water the newly planted tree. Pour the water slowly so that it reaches the roots.

Feed your hibiscus tree bi-monthly during the growing season. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Services recommends using either a 15-5-10 (15% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus, 10% potassium) or 15-5-15 (15% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus, 15% potassium) fertilizer. One half ounce is sufficient for a small plant, but an established hibiscus may need up to a 1/2 pound.

Hibiscus trees require generous amount of water every week. The National Gardening Association recommends that you give your hibiscus tree the equivalent of 1 inch of rain each week.


Things You Will Need

  • Hibiscus tree or seeds
  • Trowel
  • Shovel
  • Peat pots, pots, or planting cells
  • Fertilizer
  • Seed-starting mix
  • Plant mister or spray bottle
  • Insecticidal soap


  • If aphids, or white flies become a problem for your hibiscus, use your spray bottle or plant mister and an insecticidal soap to eradicate the garden pests. Make sure to thoroughly saturate the leaves with the insecticidal soap.

About the Author


Katelyn Lynn has been writing health and wellness articles since 2007. Her work appears on various websites. Lynn is a certified holistic health practitioner who specializes in orthomolecular medicine and preventative modalities. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in health sciences from TUI University and has extensive experience in botany and horticulture.