Hibiscus care – indoors and out!

Indoor hibiscus, also called China roses, offer magnificent flowers over a long period of time.

Key Hibiscus facts

Name – Hibiscus rosa sinensis
Family – Malvaceae (mallow family)
Type – indoor plant

Height – 1 ⅓ to 5 feet (0.4 to 1.5 meters)
Exposure – well-lit
Foliage – evergreen if grown indoors

Flowering – March to November

Practically the epitome of a flowering plant, hibiscus is very easy to care for, and the following advice helps ensure that the blooming period lasts as long as possible.

Here are all the tips and guidance to care for your hibiscus in the best possible manner.

Planting and re-potting your hibiscus

A simple red-flowered hibiscus in a pot sends a cute shadow on a wall.If the hibiscus you have just purchased is already bearing flowers, do not re-pot the plant because this may disturb it. China roses like feeling a bit tight in their pots.

  • Repotting is generally performed in March, before plant growth resumes.
  • Choose a pot that is slightly larger than the previous one.
  • Ideally, prepare one part soil mix and one part heath.
  • Place at the bottom of the pot a bed of gravel or clay beads to ensure drainage.

Yellow hibiscus pruned and trimmed to look like a small tree.Planting a hibiscus outdoors

If your climate zone allows for it, it is possible to transplant an indoor hibiscus outdoors. Hibiscus is not hardy and is vulnerable to freezing.

Indeed, a hibiscus cannot survive temperatures below 40°F (5°C) and can only make it through the winter in climates where it strictly never freezes.

If there is any risk of frost, then it is better to keep the plant in a pot. Doing so makes it possible to bring it indoors, for example in a greenhouse, for the winter months from October to April or May.

  • Choose a sun-bathed area, sheltered from stronger winds.
  • Plant your China rose in a mix of garden soil, soil mix and heath.
  • The hibiscus variety that copes well with colder climates is the althea variety, also called rose mallow.

Propagating hibiscus: cuttings in spring or summer.

Pruning and caring for indoor hibiscus

Your hibiscus will be all the more beautiful and full of flowers if you prune it at the beginning of spring.

  • Prune lightly, focus on remodeling the silhouette delicately in March.

During the growth phase, add flower plant fertilizer to spur vegetation and ensure that your China roses will bloom spectacularly.

Watering hibiscus

Two large red hibiscus flowers with autumn-red leaves.Watering hibiscus in spring and summer

This is the growth period, and water needs are the highest. It is nonetheless crucial to not drown roots and let the ground dry up before watering again.

Watering once or twice a week should be enough.

Watering hibiscus in fall and winter

When your hibiscus has entered dormancy, start reducing water input to match ambient temperatures.

  • The cooler it is, the less water a plant needs.

Diseases and parasites attacking hibiscus

Hanging lantern hibiscus bloom boasts red-veined yellow petals.Hibiscus leaves tend to wither and leaves turn themselves inside-out:

  • This is often due to excess heat or exposure to the sun is too strong.
  • It may help to place the pot in a basin of soft or non-hard water for a short while and then drain it out.

Leaves are sticky and pasty and little insects invade leaves:

Leaves are covered with a white cottony felt:

Leaves drop off unexpectedly and suddenly:

  • This is connected to excess water. Wait until soil surface is dry before watering again.
  • Avoid cold breezes or sudden changes in temperature.

Flower buds fall off before blooming:

  • This is often related to excessive air dryness.
  • Avoid setting the plant near a radiator or an overly exposed window.
  • Place the pot on a bed of gravel or clay pebbles doused in water.

Smart tip about hibiscus

To boost flower-bearing, remove wilted flowers regularly (deadheading).


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
White hibiscus by Albert Dezetter under Pixabay license
Potted hibiscus by Graham Webster under Pixabay license
Stem hibiscus by Gaby Stein under Pixabay license
Lantern hibiscus by æŒŻéž 李 under Pixabay license