The hibiscus tree is a tropical plant that is coveted by gardeners for its virtually nonstop production of large, colorful, trumpet-shaped blossoms. Each flower only lasts for a day on most varieties of hibiscus. The plant is commonly grown as a shrub or tree specimen which is called a "standard." In non-tropical areas of the country the hibiscus tree must be grown indoors during harsh weather.
Uses And Size
The hibiscus can be grown in a single tree specimen or a multistemmed tree. The trees will normally grow about 10 feet tall and are favored as patio plants. They are also commonly grown around pool settings or other areas where a tropical look is desired.
The trees are normally formed into a lush canopy of foliage. Regular clipping and pruning is required to maintain the tree's shape and size. Unfortunately, shearing will remove many of the flower heads so when the hibiscus is grown in tree form it does not offer the same consistent and non-stop flowering as its shrub relatives. Care should be taken to only remove the longest one-third of the branches and then wait 30 days and repeat throughout the year. This pruning routine will help maintain some blossoming.
Hedges, Specimens and Containers
Hibiscus trees are often utilized in a hedge setting. This is most common when multistemmed varieties are used. The trees are lined up so their canopy helps produce an 8- to 10-foot flowering fence line. Only in a tropical climate will the hibiscus thrive as a hedge or single tree planting. The hibiscus will be killed completely to the ground if the temperature dips below 28 degrees F. Trees grown in containers can be brought indoors and placed in a sunny window during a cold snap.
Watering and Fertilizer
The hibiscus tree should be watered once a week to a depth of at least 12 to 18 inches. The tree should be fertilized once in the spring, summer and fall using 1 lb. of 15-5-15. Spread the fertilizer around the base of the tree. Make sure the fertilizer does not touch the tree's trunk. Water thoroughly.
Aphids and spider mites are a common problem on the hibiscus tree. Spray the tree regularly with water and use a cloth to to remove the aphids and spider mites. If the problem is severe then purchase ladybugs from a garden supply store to apply to the hibiscus tree. Ladybugs consume both aphids and spider mites.
If black spots should occur on the tree's leaves, promptly remove the leaves and dispose of them. Keep all leaves picked up around the base of the plant to control the spread of the fungus. Canker, which is a form of fungus, can also afflict the hibiscus tree. Watch for rust-colored markings on the leaves or the twigs which indicate a canker infection. Promptly remove leaves and twigs from the plant to control the spread.
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