How to Prune Hibiscus - Backyard Boss
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How to Prune Hibiscus

Hibiscus varieties are incredibly popular in gardening and come in multiple varieties, of many shapes and sizes. They are beautiful, interesting to look at, and relatively easy to take care of once you have them planted. But, these plants do need to be trimmed to maintain their beautiful appearance.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about hibiscus plants, how to grow them successfully, and how to prune them without damaging them.

Materials You’ll Need

When it’s time to prune your plant you will need some supplies so that you can do it properly and without damaging your plant. You will need:

  • Gloves (to protect your hands)
  • Sharp pruning scissors
  • A basket: somewhere to put any dead or diseased leaves or flowers 

Choosing Your Hibiscus

HIbiscus Orange
Image credit: Suanpa via Pixabay

There are so many different varieties of hibiscus (more than 300!) so it’s important to know about them all so you can pick the best one(s) for your garden. Hibiscus plants grow amazing flowers and come in a range of colors, in single or double forms. While each flower usually only lasts about one day, the plant produces for a long season. The colors include orange, yellow, red, pink, and multi-colored. Thanks to their flowers, hibiscus plants draw in pollinators, including bees.

Hibiscus grow as either shrubs or trees and are either “annuals” or perennials.

  • “Annual” hibiscus — Most “annual” hibiscus aren’t true annuals, but rather tropical hibiscuses that are treated as annuals in colder climates. You can also bring your hibiscus plants inside during the cooler months. Some common annual varieties include Chinese hibiscus and red leaf.
  • Perennial hibiscus — Two common categories of perennial hibiscus are rose mallow and hardy. Rose mallow is known for its height and beautiful color. Hardy hibiscus is very cold tolerant; they thrive in Zones 5 to 9.

Growing Your Hibiscus

Hibiscus Bud on stem
Image credit: D.Eickhof via Openverse

There are many things to consider when growing your hibiscus plants, including where to plant your seeds, when to plant them and how to make sure they grow to their full potential.

Hibiscus grows best in full sun and moist, damp soil. It’s also important to plant your hibiscus at the right time to ensure they have enough time to grow. You will want to start planting in the spring when temperatures are starting to get warmer; if temperatures, where you live, drop low in the evening you may need to bring your plants inside. If you live in a cooler climate, consider keeping your hibiscus as a houseplant.

Now it’s time to plant your hibiscus. Dig a hole twice the size of the plant and just as deep as the roots. This is when you will want to add any nutrients or fertilizers to the soil to make sure they reach the roots.

Your plant can now take all spring to grow and start to bloom in the summer.

When to Prune

Hardy hibiscus Luna Rose
Image credits: Nahhan via Canva

Pruning the perennial and annual types of hibiscus plants isn’t that different, but when you cut back each type does matter.  

When you prune your perennial or hardy hibiscus will matter largely on the climate where you live but is usually between late winter and spring. To find out the ideal time in your area, it’s best to ask your local garden center. If you prune your hibiscus in spring, wait until you see new growth. Then, cut back its old branches. 

You can cut your annual, or tropical hibiscus at any time of year (especially if you take it indoors over winter). However, if you want to ensure it stays happy, healthy, and safe from the cold, spring is the best time to prune your annual hibiscus. 

How to Prune

person reaching for hibiscus
Image credits: Cameron Ahlvers via Unsplash

Pruning your plant is not hard at all and shouldn’t take too much of your time. If you want to shape your hibiscus and keep it looking clean, break off flowers immediately after they start to die off. That will prompt the plants to continue to bloom. Prune up to ⅓ off of hibiscus plants to control size and shape during the summer when plants are actively growing.

When it’s time to give your hibiscus a heavier pruning, keep a few things in mind. Perennial varieties ought to be cut to about 1 foot above the ground come cutting time. You don’t necessarily need to give your annuals a heavy pruning, but if you notice they’re getting leggy, it would be a good idea to do so.

In Conclusion

It’s important to properly prune your hibiscus plants to make sure they bloom big, beautiful flowers and keep coming back year after year. But before you can prune your plants you need to know all about them, how and when to grow them.

Now you know how to grow your plants, help them thrive and how to prune them properly so you can enjoy their beauty. Do you have more hibiscus pruning tips? Share them in the comments below!