How to Care for Hibiscus in Cold Weather

Hibiscus is a tropical plant with large, colorful blooms. The hardy hibiscus variety is a perennial that survives more easily through the winter than its tropical counterpart, which easily dies in freezing temperatures. Knowing which kind you have affects how you should care for hibiscus during the cold weather — if you do not know, however, be on the safe side and treat it as if it is not cold-hardy.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden shears

  • Pine straw

  • Plant pot

  • Potting soil

  • Shovel

Hardy Hibiscus

Step 1

Trim your hardy hibiscus back to 1 foot after the first frost. Use sharp garden shears for best results.

Step 2

Spread a mulch, such as pine straw mulch, around the hibiscus to help keep roots warm. Pile the mulch a foot deep.

Step 3

Replace the mulch with more mulch if it scatters or decomposes. If you live in an area with snowfalls, shovel snow over the mulch to keep it in place and provide further insulating protection for the plant.

Step 4

Water sparingly during cold weather. If you experience snowfall or other precipitation, you shouldn't have to water the plant often at all while the weather is cold.

Tropical Hibiscus

Step 1

Bring tropical hibiscus indoors before temperatures fall to freezing outdoors. If they are not in pots, but are planted in the soil, you will need to dig them up and plant them in pots.

Step 2

Prepare pots by filling the bottom 2 inches with potting soil. Then, use a shovel to dig up the tropical hibiscus while being careful to disturb the roots as little as possible.

Step 3

Gently pull the hibiscus from the ground and set it in the plant pot. Fill in excess space around the plant in the pot with potting soil and then water it in.

Step 4

Cut back dead or diseased foliage using garden shears before bringing it indoors. Place the hibiscus in a room that receives sunlight, but keep the plant away from exterior doors and windows to avoid cold drafts.

Step 5

Water only when the soil is completely dry to avoid over-watering.


According to Trop Hibiscus, a hibiscus with dark green, glossy leaves and salmon, orange, peach or yellow blooms is most likely not a hardy hibiscus. Hardy hibiscus have non-glossy, paler foliage and large white, pink or red blooms.

References & Resources