wikiHow to Care for a Chinese Hibiscus

The Chinese hibiscus (Rosa sinensis) has flowers that look similar to the hibiscus that is commonly grown in gardens. Chinese hibiscus makes a stunning blooming houseplant with its 4” to 5” (10 to 12 cm) flowers in many gorgeous colors. A happy, healthy hibiscus will reward you with a constant succession of these flowers. Here is how to keep that hibiscus happy.

Steps

  1. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 1
    1
    Give Chinese hibiscus lots of light. A southern window or sunroom location is the best choice.
  2. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 2
    2
    Keep Chinese hibiscus warm. These plants require temperatures between 55º to 85ºF (12.7 to 29.4ºC).
  3. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 3
    3
    Plant Chinese hibiscus in a lightweight potting soil, not garden soil.
  4. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 4
    4
    Re-pot Chinese hibiscus each spring in new potting soil. Use a bigger pot if the plant appears root bound.
  5. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 5
    5
    Keep the soil in the pot moist at all times but never let the pot sit in water or become too soggy.
    • Use distilled water or rainwater at room temperature.
    • Add water to the pot until water flows from the bottom.
    • Empty saucers beneath the plant as soon as the water stops draining out.
    • Touch the top of the potting soil to know if the plant needs water. Don’t rely on a schedule to water, water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
  6. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 6
    6
    Keep humidity around the plant high. 50-60 % relative room humidity is ideal.
  7. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 7
    7
    Keep Chinese hibiscus out of drafts from opening doors, leaky windows or forced air vents.
  8. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 8
    8
    Fertilize Chinese hibiscus regularly all year round.
    • Use a flowering plant, water-soluble fertilizer mixed according to directions for indoor plants, once a month.
    • Or use a granular, slow release fertilizer for flowering houseplants as the label directs.
    • Wait to begin fertilization for 3 months if the potting soil you use has fertilizer included.
  9. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 9
    9
    Prune hibiscus to keep it from getting too large and to encourage fullness.
    • Tip each tall, upright branch when you re-pot in spring to encourage side growth and fullness. Using bypass garden pruning shears cut each branch back to the second leaf node from the tip. Cut just before the node.
    • You can prune back to just before any leaf node to reduce the height or width of the hibiscus. Make sure to leave 2 to 3 leaf nodes on each stem or remove the stem completely.
  10. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 10
    10
    Groom your hibiscus.
    • Remove dead blooms promptly.
    • Remove yellowed or dead leaves.
    • Dust the leaves if they appear dusty.
    • Prune dead branches.
  11. Image titled Care for a Chinese Hibiscus Step 11
    11
    Examine your hibiscus regularly for pests.
    • Look for curled or wrinkled leaves.
    • Look for lots of yellow, browning, spotted or falling leaves.
    • Look for insects on and under leaves.
    • Look for fine webbing on leaves and stems.
    • Treat insects with a houseplant insecticide if pests are suspected.

Tips

  • A hibiscus that is wilting can be too dry or too wet. Check the pot before watering.
  • Hibiscus comes in single or double flowered varieties. There are also varieties with variegated foliage.
  • If the humidity is too low or the plant is in a draft buds may drop off without opening.
  • If you are having lots of disease and insect problems a hibiscus can be treated with a systemic rose care product or a systemic houseplant insect and disease control product. Follow label directions for potted roses.
  • Hibiscus can be pruned to look like a shrub or pruned and trained to look like a tree.
  • City and well water can be used for hibiscus if distilled or rainwater isn’t available.

Things You’ll Need

  • Fertilizer for blooming plants
  • Pruning shears


Sources and Citations

  • Ortho books, Houseplants Indoors/Outdoors, San Francisco, CA, Chevron, 1974, pg 54-55
  • Hessayon, Dr.D.G., The Houseplant Expert, London, England, Expert Books, 1994, pg. 158

Article Info

Categories: Growing Flowers