Hibiscus Plant Care
Hibiscus as Houseplants
For those of us from the northern regions of the planet, tropical plants are houseplants, hibiscus included. But hibiscus don't just make good houseplants in cold climates. They make beautiful houseplants in even the warmest climates. Like all flowering houseplants, there are some necessary tricks you need to learn to keep hibiscus growing, thriving, and blooming in the house. This article will give you all those tricks and make you an expert at growing hibiscus as houseplants.
Why Grow Hibiscus as Houseplants?
Exotic Hibiscus Blooming in a Picture Window
'Erin Rachel' (left) and 'Belle du Jour' (right)
- Houseplants clean the air in our homes by filtering dust and absorbing contaminants out of the air.
- They act as sound barriers, absorbing sound waves and reducing noise levels.
- They increase humidity in the air, replacing some of the moisture sucked out by central heating and cooling.
- Houseplants decrease carbon dioxide levels and increase oxygen levels in the air.
- They provide an insulating effect that warms the house in winter and cools it in summer.
- Houseplants have actually been found to lift our mood, make us feel calmer and more optimistic. A sick person will tend to get well more quickly if surrounded by living plants.
- New studies have even shown that houseplants in our workspace increase our creativity and productivity!
How to Grow Hibiscus Successfully in the House
Tropical Hibiscus Houseplants in a Sunny Window
'El Capitolio' (left) and 'Blue Ballerina' (right) in 4" Pots
- Good quality hibiscus fertilizer that has all the nutrients hibiscus need with as few contaminants as possible
- Lower levels of nitrogen to prevent nitrogen-loving pests and keep plants more compact
- Very high levels of potassium to build strong wood, more color pigments, and bigger flowers
- Very high levels of magnesium and iron to match potassium and build cholorophyll
- Growth enhancers to maintain vigor in the low-light, low-humidity indoor environment
- Soil protectants to keep roots healthy and prevent soil diseases and pests
- Slightly acidic ph
Hibiscus houseplants do best when they receive a weak solution of these nutrients with every watering. The easiest way to get all of these nutrients is to use our HVH Houseplant Formula. It contains everything you need to meet all the optimal nutritional needs of hibiscus in one bottle. You just mix it into the water each time you water your hibiscus.
Hibiscus Flowers in Late Winter
'Blue President' (left) and 'Erin Rachel' (right) in 4" Pots
Hibiscus will grow amazingly well with no direct sunlight, but they won't bloom. They will have glossy dark green leaves, produce beautiful foliage, and stay strong and healthy if they are clear across the room from a sunny window. But if you want to see flowers, they will need to get at least a little bit of direct sunlight every day. A good nutrition program minimizes the amount of sun they will require to bloom, so even just an hour or two of sun will work just fine if you use our suggested nutrition program. If you have a very sunny window with several hours of daily sun, you'll get even more blooms. No amount of sun is too much, but in a very sunny window try to give the plant an inch or so of space between its leaves and the window because the heat that builds up right next to the glass can be hard on the leaves that touch the glass.
Many Hibiscus Plants Growing in a Large Living Room Picture Window
Indoor hibiscus, like outdoor hibiscus, will need a lot of water in hot weather and much less water in cold weather. When you water your hibiscus, water until you see water come out the bottom of the pot into the plant tray, but after 12 hours the water in the plant tray should be gone. If there is still water standing in the tray, pour it away. Hibiscus can drown in standing water. Their roots need air, and water prevents them from getting any air. Fungal root diseases also thrive in soggy soil, and standing water definitely makes the soil soggy if it stays too long.
Pinch and Prune
Just as with outdoor hibiscus, if you want to see lots of blooms, you have to pinch and prune your indoor hibiscus plants to make them grow more branches for flowers to bloom on. It's hard to do, but if you can make yourself pinch your plants while they're small, you'll reap the rewards in many more blooms within a very few months. Even small plants in 4" pots will bloom if you pinch them, feed them well, give them lots of sun, and wait patiently for them to branch. Larger plants will reward you even more. The hardest thing of all is to cut off the single blooming tip you have. But one blooming tip will turn into several if you cut it off, so just close your eyes, take a breath, and snip!
Which Hibiscus Varieties?
Hibiscus Flowers Indoors in Winter in a Sunny South Window
Tropical hibiscus are not just for warm, sunny, southern souls! Northerners and people in colder climates grow them indoors with different, but equally spectacular results. Canadians and Northern Europeans have been growing hibiscus indoors for decades. So all of you in cold northern places, or those of you in warm southern places who love houseplants, jump in and try your favorite hibiscus in your house. Who needs a hot sunny climate? Who needs a greenhouse? A living room window will do, and we have the flowers to prove it!