Growing Hibiscus plants will reward you with wonderful flowering forms that can be grown in containers or your outdoor bed borders. Plant as single specimen plants or as a wildlife-friendly hedge that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii and blooms are often strung together as leis that are warn around the neck.
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Soak hibiscus seed overnight before sowing. Plant 1 inch (2.5cm) deep in your own sieved compost or a nutrient-rich organic seed starting mix. Water lightly and place in a bright area with good ventilation. Repot when at least two sets of real leaves have appeared. As it grows, nip out the top growth to promote a bushy shape.
It’s possible to take tip and hardwood cuttings from hibiscus. For tip cuttings, choose a healthy stem and cut at 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15cm). Dip in an organic rooting gel and push into a pot filled with a nutrient-rich seed starting mix. Place in a warm, bright place avoiding full sun. Keep moist.
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Use a stake driven 12 inches (30 cm) into the ground to support the growing plant, but be careful to not damage the roots. Tie the main stem of the plant to the support. This is to prevent wind rocking and give the plant a chance to anchor itself effectively.
Encourage bushy growth by pruning in late winter. Hibiscus pruning consists of cutting out any deadwood or crisscrossing stems. Make sure you use sharp shears, making an upward slanting clean cut an 1/8 inch (5 mm) above an outward pointing bud. Be careful not to overwater after pruning.
Hibiscus will benefit from a mulch of organic matter over winter. Be careful to leave a space where the plant enters the ground as mulching here may encourage root rot and other viruses.
Hibiscus blooms are a florist’s dream as they last can last for short times without water. Pick early in the morning and place in the fridge to keep fresh if necessary. You only need two or three stems to create a lovely display for your table.
Keep an eye on the overall health of hibiscus plants, removing and destroying damaged leaves and stems before viruses take over your plants.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Hibiscus Perennial (see Organic Garden Pest Control for information about how to prevent and address pests and diseases)...
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