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non-blooming non-hardy hibiscus

Saint Peters, MO

I have a hibiscus in a pot I bring in each winter because it's not a hardy type. I've had it at least 5 years and some years it blooms and some it doesn't. This year it doesn't even appear to be getting any buds. Since the blooms seem to be hit or miss, I didn't trim it last fall when I brought it in thinking maybe I was trimming it incorrectly. Anyone know how to make it bloom? It's an absolutely gorgeous foliage bush, but I want blooms.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I assume it's a tropical (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)? And does it look healthy (leaves nice & green, no bugs, etc)? Assuming it's healthy, the two first things I would look at are how much sun it's getting, and how you're fertilizing it.

Tropical hibiscus need a decent amount of sun & heat to bloom well, so if you've got it in an area that's too shady that could be why it only blooms sporadically (although with the heat--I've found if we have extended periods of high temperatures they will also not bloom as well...mine do best when we are warm (90's) rather than super hot (100+).

On the fertilizer side, too much nitrogen can stimulate lots of green growth at the expense of blooms, and hibiscus don't like a lot of phosphorus so if you've been feeding it with a "bloom booster" type of fertilizer that can actually have the opposite effect. Trimming it shouldn't matter, they bloom on new wood so if you trim it before bringing it inside in the fall that shouldn't hurt its chances of blooming the following year.

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9a)

OK, mine are blooming but I think from luck. What do you feed them.

Mine get morning sun and afternoon shade and, of course, heat. It seems the hotter we get, the more they bloom. Right now we are 108 and they are in full bloom. Sharon

Saint Peters, MO

ecrane3 - yes, it's a tropical. It gets plenty of sun, but our temp has been over 100 for 10 days now AND it's sitting on concrete by my pool, so that could be part of it. BUT I had no idea about the "bloom booster" type of fertilizer having the opposite affect and was using that trying to force blooms. So what should we be feeding our tropical hibs?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

You can buy special hibiscus fertilizer from some of the retailers that sell tropicals, but if you don't want to do that, just look at the ratio of N-P-K that's here and try to find a regular fertilizer that has a similar ratio. This one for example is 17-5-24 http://www.hiddenvalleynaturearts.com/acatalog/fertilizer.htm Don't worry about matching the numbers exactly, the principle to follow is the middle number being much lower than the other two.

Saint Peters, MO

thanks ecrane3 - since I've been using the wrong stuff and the plant is in a pot, can I leach the soil and start over with the right stuff?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

You can try to flush the other stuff out, just be careful you don't overwater in the process. Or just wait until the next time you'd be fertilizing and use a more appropriate fertilizer from then on.

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