Hibiscus Flower Care Tips: A Beginner's Guide To This Tropical Beauty
If you think hibiscus flowers are only good for brewing a delicious cup of tea, think again: Hibiscus also make for fragrant, colorful flowers that you can grow and care for in your home or your backyard. As for where hibiscus flowers can be grown, how to care for them, and how to use them, here's the breakdown:
- Sunlight needs: Bright, direct light (in summer and winter)
- When to water: Every 1-2 weeks
- Pros: Come in many colorful, vibrant variations
- Cons: Require lots of light and can be finnicky
- Where to put them: Outside in spring and summer, near a bright window in winter
- Pet friendly? Non-toxic to pets in most cases
- Size: Medium, can grow to be 3+ feet in a pot
Intro to hibiscus flowers:
Hibiscus flowers are a bright flowering plant in the Malvaceae family that's native to tropical regions around the world.
There are over 200 species of hibiscus flowers and though they are often trumpet-shaped, they come in all types of colors. Thanks to their vivid hues, hibiscus flowers tend to attract wildlife like hummingbirds.
These beautiful blooms can be choosy about lighting, and they thrive when grown in portable containers that can be easily moved to maximize sun exposure.
Types of hibiscus flowers + where they grow:
While hibiscus flowers are typically known for being tropical flowers, they can actually grow in a variety of climates as long as they get at least a little bit of sunlight in the winter months.
Here's an introduction to the kinds of environments where four of the most popular hibiscus plants can thrive:
This hibiscus does best when it's in a wind-sheltered environment that's full of sun and does well with lots of humidity and heat. While this type of hibiscus does best in super-moist soils, it can also thrive in soils that are less moist naturally as long as it's watered regularly.
Rose mallow is native to North America and will do best in full sun with moist soil. The flowers of rose mallow, which typically appear in midsummer and live on through fall, are vibrant and colorful. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies, making them all the more beautiful.
Rose of Sharon.
While it may have a similar name to rose mallow, this type of hibiscus flower is native to China and grown on a shrub. Unlike other hibiscus plants, rose of Sharon can thrive in partial shade and urban conditions, with moist soil. It typically blooms in late summer and fall.
Last but not least, tropical hibiscus typically thrives in mild temperatures—65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They can live indoors when temperatures get too cold, so if you live in a climate that gets frigid in the winter, worry not—your tropical hibiscus can survive.
How to take card of hibiscus flowers: 4 pro tips
Most types of hibiscus plants can live all year long as long as they're cared for properly. Here are four things to keep in mind when tending to yours:
Choose a wide pot.
If you want your hibiscus plant to produce flowers, one thing you should be wary of is planting it in a pot that's too deep. If you do this, the hibiscus plant will spend its energy growing new roots instead of blooming.
Instead, look for a pot that's not much deeper (but significantly wider) than a standard plastic nursery pot. Make sure it has a drainage hole.
Keep them in a sunny spot (even in the winter months).
During the growing season, your hibiscus plant should be kept outdoors in full sun and receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. If you live in a colder region, move your plant indoors before the first frost hits, when the indoor and outdoor air temperatures are similar to minimize shock.
While most hibiscus flowers bloom only in the spring and summer seasons, in the winter months they should still be kept in a sunny spot and get least at least 3 hours of direct sunlight a day if possible.
If your plant isn't producing flowers in the months it should be, trying moving it to an area of your home or garden that gets more light and see if it helps.
Be strategic about watering.
Water your flowers only when soil is dry to the touch—every week or so in the summer and every other week in the winter.
Beware that heat in your home can create overly dry conditions in the wintertime, in which case your hibiscus plants might require more water in order to survive.
If you notice yellow leaves forming at the top of your hibiscus plant, this could be a sign of dehydration or excess water, so check your soil if this occurs. If it's dry, give your plant more water.
Yellowing leaves can also be a sign of overwatering. If the soil is still wet, it's best to back off on your watering schedule and check for root rot.
Remember: Only water when the soil is dry to the touch! You want to keep the plant moist but not damp.
Replant in the winter months.
February is typically the best time of year to replant your hibiscus in a larger pot, since it is dormant in the colder months.
In the months when your plant blossoms, feel free to bring it outside if you have a garden. Once in outdoor soil, the plant will likely require daily watering at first in order to thrive.
How to use hibiscus flowers:
While you can of course keep your hibiscus flowers in their pot for a lovely pop of color, you can also cultivate them to add to a colorful bouquet, use in a pressed flower artwork, or brew into a healthy hibiscus tea.
The bottom line:
Hibiscus plants produce beautiful, color flowers and are relatively easy to grow indoors and outdoors. With lots of light, a little water, and the right pot, you can nurse the stunning flowers to life in your own home.
Leigh Weingus is a New York City based freelance journalist and former Senior Relationships Editor at mindbodygreen where she analyzed new research on human behavior, looked at the intersection of wellness and women's empowerment, and took deep dives into the latest sex and relationship trends. She received her bachelor’s in English and Communication from the University of California, Davis. She has written for HuffPost, Glamour, and NBC News, among others, and is a certified yoga instructor.