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Overwintering Hibiscus

Updated: Mar 31, 2021

This article was written by GGG member Jennifer S.

Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. The genus is quite large, comprising several hundred species that are native to warm temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world. You can find hibiscus plants in many local home and garden centers and nurseries, even though they do not tolerate local winters.

3 years ago, I received a beautiful hibiscus tree and did not want to throw it away with the yard waste once summer was over. After doing some research through the Chicago Botanic Garden, I learned that I could successfully bring the plant indoors to overwinter. Over the years, I have overwintered a 4-inch hibiscus pot and 2 hibiscus trees (see photos below). So here are a few suggestions to save your hibiscus and even enjoy some blooms during the long winter months.

  • Move the hibiscus indoors well before the 1st fall frost. In September, I start acclimating my plants by moving them in the garage when the temps go below 60 degrees at night and move them back out during the day.

  • Check the plants for insects, specifically whitefly. If you do not want to use an insecticide, make sure to thoroughly hose down the leaves and let dry.

  • Prune lengthy branches.

  • Leaves WILL turn yellow and fall off after moving it indoors. This is sad, but normal 😊 – new growth will occur after it rests (dormancy).

  • Place your hibiscus near a window with bright light. I have a patio door that provides a lot of sunshine and I have also placed my tree in a bedroom that has indirect sunlight.

  • Provide consistent moisture, but not too much and begin a well-balanced fertilizer in early Spring. You will begin to see new growth and even a few blooms too!

  • Be sure to place pots in a dish or saucer to protect your floors from moisture.

  • In late Spring (usually after Mother’s Day) I start acclimating the hibiscus to the outdoors again.

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