Hibiscus plants grow as a full, flowering shrub. Plants reach between 3 and 8 feet high, depending on the variety and the climate. The hibiscus shrubs produce an abundance of large flowers in mid- and late summer, covering the entire shrub in bright color. In optimum climates, hibiscus may flower year-round.
Hibiscus thrives in tropical and subtropical climates. Most varieties grow as an evergreen in climates where the temperatures remain above 50 F year-round. The plants grow as a deciduous shrub in areas with cooler temperatures, dying back each winter and producing new growth in the spring. Temperatures below 30 F may damage the roots, killing the plant. Growing hibiscus as a potted plant and overwintering it indoors allows you to enjoy the shrub in climates with freezing winters.
Most hibiscus varieties produce the most abundant blooms when provided with full sunlight through the spring and summer. Full sun consists of six to eight hours, or more, of direct sun on the plant each day. Hibiscus can tolerate light shade but may not flower as well. Afternoon shade is preferred over morning, as afternoon shade protects the shrub from the heat of the day and prevents the hibiscus from drying out too quickly.
Rainfall and Water
Evenly moist soil that retains moisture to a 12-inch depth provides the necessary water to the hibiscus for best growth and blooming. In spring and summer, hibiscus requires 1 to 2 inches of rainfall or irrigation weekly. Plants that remain evergreen require moist soil during the winter but can tolerate less irrigation since the soil typically retains more moisture in cooler temperatures. Hibiscus that becomes fully dormant in winter generally doesn't require additional watering.
Winter Climate Concerns
As an only moderately hardy plant, hibiscus requires special care in winter except for in tropical and subtropical areas. The more tender varieties, including Chinese hibiscus, require wintering indoors in locations where the outdoor temperature drops below 50 F. More hardy types, such as the Confederate Rose, tolerate temperatures down to 30 F, but the plant dies back to the ground each year. Mulching heavily over the soil around the hardier hibiscus types provides insulation and helps the plant to better survive the cold.
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