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How to Sculpt a Hibiscus Tree

Hibiscus 2 image by Nicolas Richer from

Hawaii's state flower the hibiscus is known as a tropical flower that flourishes in warm, moist, sunshine-filled environments, especially along the latitude line where Hawaii lies. The hibiscus grows rapidly and needs pruning usually in the late summer and early fall for maintenance reasons, especially to promote future growth. When pruning, you can also sculpt a hibiscus tree with the pruning shears to create a certain shape or a compact box hedge. There are some key things to keep in mind when pruning a hibiscus to make sure you do it correctly.

Put on the work gloves to protect your hands from brambles. Use the pruning shears to remove any broken or dead hibiscus branches, cutting them back all the way to the base.

Decide on the shape you want to sculpt the hibiscus tree into. Since hibiscus branches grow long and light, they will be difficult to create small details and actual figures. Focus more on a hedge, pear or ball shape. After deciding on the shape. step back and look at the hibiscus. Make notes of all the large branches you need to cut back first to sculpt it properly.

Prune these hibiscus branches about one-third of the way back above the nearest node. It is important that each branch has two to three nodes left after pruning. For a particular shape, cut these longer branches back just to where the majority of the smaller ones extend out to. Do your best to make the branches ends even.

Use the pruning scissors to trim around the edges of the hibiscus to polish the appearance. You want to step back regularly from the tree to make sure all sides are even. If edges are poking out awkwardly or uneven, it will not be a successful sculpting job.

Trim around the bottom and top of the hibiscus. For flat tops and bottoms for hedges, use the pruning shears to make long steady cuts straight across the top of the tree, cutting through the thick part of the branches to make sharp edges. Repeat this for the left and right sides as well. Imagine that you are creating a rectangular box.

Use the pruning shears or scissors (depending on size of hibiscus) to create a sculpted pear shape for the hibiscus. Although you want to taper the hibiscus branches inward towards the top, the appearance still needs to be rounded and even.

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