Perennials: Fertilizing hibiscus

Newnan, GA(Zone 8a)

a dear sweet wonderful lady (weeds) sent me a tropical hibiscus, and I have a double peach from Hibiscus, and I want many more. so what am I to be feeding them? Kyle mentioned that one of the 3 (n, p, p) is toxic to hibiscus. How do I keep them in a bed of tropicals that I want to feed with my miracle grow sprayer? tell me how to take care of my babies please. and does the same thing apply to hardys??

Norwalk, IA(Zone 5b)

Tig...give the hardy hibiscus the same feed as your other perennials. The tropical ones want a feed low in phosphorus....a feed with say..18-6-12...or a similar food should be used.Monika warned us about too much phosphorus in our plants...stays in the soil a long time and can accumulate.Super bloom is great for annuals..but not perennials or tropicals.Only exception is plumerias..they need super bloom. :-)

Newnan, GA(Zone 8a)

thanks Kyle!!! now I need to go feed the plumeria:)

Lakeland, FL

I feed my hibiscuses with: Miracle Grow! And mine are huge! And I started them out when they were very, very small!

Bensenville, IL(Zone 5a)

I have hibiscus in my pond at least I'm told that's what they are. I was looking for pond plants and that's what they said they sold me. They're very hardy, I don't feed them anything except some fish food because of fish in there. I'm sure there's different kinds?

use a liquid fertilizer that has a higher phosphorus ratio. Too much nitrogen will cause them to produce lots of foliage and not much bloom. And after all, it is the big flowers we're after.

Tucson, AZ(Zone 9b)

hibiscus love acid soils

OC, CA & Twin Lakes , IA(Zone 4b)

I used to bring my "Holly's Pride" tropical hibiscus in during the winter in a south facing window and didn't fertilize all winter. It would produce 1 bloom every couple of weeks.
Last winter I put dilute fish emusion 6-1-1 in my watering and got as many as 7 blooms at one time.
I must add that when I brought it in that winter I mixed some sand with the potting soil for good drainage. I went from watering once a week to twice per week because of that but that good drainage may have contributed to the flowering success.

Coco, it seems to make sense to have a high middle number but for some reason that doesn't seem to work for me.

This Spring I acquired a lot more tropical hibiscus and have been switching around on the fertilizers. They have not done too good; have used MG Bloom Buster 20-20-20 and the standard MG occasionally, Preen Weed and Feed 9-17-9,
Acidifier 30-10-10
I have read that they like Acid; but my best bloom production was during the winter with the 6-1-1 Fish Emulsion.

I would like to find a source for:

Stokes Tropical Ginger Blend 8-4-6
Stokes Tropical Humic Acid Liquid Flowering Blend 7-9-5
Tropical Foliage Blend 9-3-6
Vigaro AP Time Release (for 1X a month) 12-5-7

Then I would experiment with them.

Living where I do, just haven't figured out where to get these things.
Also have read that this time of year it is a good idea to add some Daconil to the spraying to deter mildew. However, we have had such little rain and I have been using soakers to water so there has been no problem. We got .3 inch of rain last night and a short cloud burst Sat eve so if we start getting the torrential rains we got last August, I believe I will start using a little Daconil.
Supposedly, you must use it BEFORE the mildew problem occurs. Once it gets on your plants, its too late.
edited for spelling

This message was edited Tuesday, Aug 5th 9:41 AM

OC, CA & Twin Lakes , IA(Zone 4b)

Also believe Monica said the high phosphorus inhibits the other two from working.

OC, CA & Twin Lakes , IA(Zone 4b)

Well today I dug "Holly's Pride" out of the ground and potted it for winter. It was so big I believe next summer it will have to stay in its pot.

This winter I am not going to fertilize it at all; just keep it watered. Do you think that if it gets a rest from blooming during the winter it will produce more next spring and summer?

Next year I plan a more controlled experiment with fertilizers. Hopefully over the winter I will be able to locate some of these tropical fertilizers.

Brooksville, FL(Zone 9b)

tig, I have several types including the five pedal southern native variety (sory I don't know the name). Found that using fertilizer formulated for Azalia's works well and about once a month I sprinkle a tablespoon of Ebsom salts around them.

Tucson, AZ(Zone 9b)

I have several hibiscus trees. The ones I've had the longest--8mos have grown like crazy. One is a Lipstick hibiscus and the other is a double yellow.The new ones are dark peach with read throats, and blood red. They are in rich soil and seem to be starting very well. I understand that hibiscus is very "unfussy".I feed them miracle grow about every 2 weeks. One is near my pond and gets alot of water, the yellow is in front of the house and is much dryer and is in a sandier soil. I am told they are not real particular but its best to leave them alone as much as possible so all I do is take off the ocasional yellow leaf or dead flower bud. I did notice some small bites on a couple of leaves and was told they don't like chemicals at all so to use very mild soap. I'm told to use dish soap about 2 or 3 drops to 1 qt of water and spray the leaves. So far so good.

Tucson, AZ(Zone 9b)

I read your posts where hibiscus likes acidic soil. Then what I have read says no. Now I had one near a conifer and it was doing terrible, dropping buds. I moved it away from the acid soil and it is growing like crazy. So much is written its no wonder we get confused sometimes!!

Stockton, CA(Zone 9a)

I have 5 tropical hibiscus that I bought years ago as 1 gallon plants & they are over 5 feet tall now. About 3-4 times a year I walk around around my flowerbeds & throw in handfuls of triple 16. Everything loves it. My hibiscus are no exception. They bloom their hearts out (nearly year around) & are evergreen here. Maybe they are not as fussy as we think. Maybe zone is more the issue then what they eat.

OC, CA & Twin Lakes , IA(Zone 4b)

Pudgy has a point.
Tropical Hibiscus in California gets much different care than here in Iowa.

Tucson, AZ(Zone 9b)

I agree, It depends on the zone in which the hibiscus is being grown. Here in Tucson they are pretty easy whether they are bushes or trees.When we get a frost I will throw a little cover over them but thats about it, seems to me that the more "fussing" one does to them the more confusing it gets. I prune as little as possible, trimming the "suckers"growing on the trunk and maybe a limb that is growing out of line and thats it.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

a 10-4-12 is the best type of fertilizer to use on hibiscus. They need at least 4 to 6 hours of full sun to do their best. Some bud drop is normal for all hibiscus and some types of hibiscus drop more buds than others. Bud drop occurs also occurs from stress factors such as being too dry, low light, sudden environmental changes and after transplanting. Store bought hibiscus normally drop leaves and buds after being brought home because the growing conditions have changed. They may be pruned, but because the blooms appear on the new growth, it may take awhile before they bloom in the areas that were pruned. So the farther back you cut them, the longer it will take for them to bloom again. Container grown hibiscus may experience leaf and bloom drop when moved from one location to another. If the plants are allowed to wilt from lack of water, they may have leaf drop and bloom drop later. Some yellow leaves are normal. An overall yellowish color indicates a need for fertilize.

Commerce, GA(Zone 8a)

I have several hibicus, feed them Miracle Grow. planted this one last year, it's above the cable line now!

Thumbnail by Melba_Ga
San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

That is a beautiful plant!

Tucson, AZ(Zone 9b)

OH boy, now I am really Mad! We had a deep freeze(that is what i call a deep freeze 21 in Tucson) And I will tell you it cought me totally unexpected and ALL MY HIBISCUS froze. Now for sure I need help. Will they come back??? They were so so beautiful, this makes me sick!! Help

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Boy, I know how this feels because this happened to me last year. Wait to see how bad the damage is when spring arrives. Then, cut off all of the damage. If necesary, you may need to cut them to the ground. If you have to do this, hopefully they will resprout from the base. Mine did last year. It took them awhile to regain the growth and bloom again. They were in containers. Good luck to you.

Salt Lake City, UT(Zone 6a)

An excellent formula for all plants - and one that could probably replace a doze things you're using now - is Mittleider Weekly Feed, that contains all 13 nutrients man can supply to plants.

It's found at in the Gardening Techniques section, under Fertilizers.


Crisfield, MD

can I use the seeds from my poinsettias to grow new plants? I have propagated from stem cuttings before, but I would like to know how to use the seeds from mine.

Brundidge, AL(Zone 8b)

well this is so helpful to me thanks now i know why my tropical hibiscus is still just one foot tall! I am probably lucky it is still slive at all. I will ammend my fertilizing asap

Foxboro, MA(Zone 6a)

Wintering indoors in Boston, great blooms but foliage turning yelow and spotty. What insects could be to blame, or is it just malnutrition. Should they be repotted before it is time to go out? If i repot should I prune?

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

firebirds, it may just be that they are not getting enough light, getting too much water or both. When I overwintered some of mine in the garage, the leaves turned splotchy yellow, became all yellow and most fell off due to lack of light. In the winter, I do not water mine very much and they are outside most of the time. If they need repotted, spring is the time to do it. I prune mine back some each year in the spring even if they have suffered no frost damage in order to keep them bushy and to control their size. After putting them back outside, give them some fertilizer. I hope that they then rebound. Good luck.

Brockton, MA(Zone 6a)

Here we are a year later and I find this thread, I'm still 'new' here and find new stuff all the time. I'm surprised that there are so few pics on this thread.
I agree with Htop.
A friend snipped 2 cuttings for me about 20 years ago. They both took off, one is still going at a friends house with more room.
The one pictured below is 2nd generation, about 9 years old. The flowers belong to a 3rd generation plant but included to show the flower.
They have been indoors for 2 weeks now. I think most of the leaf drop is over. It's loaded with buds and will flower almost Daly from now until Valentines Day.
I keep them in this south facing window in winter and outside in summer, always in the pot. I spray with a 'fruit tree' spray (for bugs), let them dry and then hose them down to wash the insecticide off just before I bring them in.
I grow the Hardy ones also but these tropicals are a constant learning experience.
Andy P

Thumbnail by Sarahskeeper
San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)


I am happy that you found this thread and provided more information about how to keep the hibiscus happy. Thanks for sharing the photos of your lovely plants. I wish that I had room in my house so that I could keep them inside all winter. Even if I did, my rooms do not receive enough light to keep them looking as wonderful as yours do. It is so great that they bloom for you from now until Valentine's Day. When will you be able to set them back outside?

Brockton, MA(Zone 6a)

Htop, They go out when I'm confident the night time temps will not go below 40. I forgot the predecessor out on the porch one autumn night and it got frosted. It lost every leaf but did not die. It looked awful for months but only lost a few small branches.
When I put them out in spring is when I prune them. I like the lollipop look and am ruthless at pruning. Keeping in mind the direction the new sprout will grow, really helps shape it.
I don't have many flowers in summer, but by the time it's ready to come in there are lots of buds. As you said, they set flower only at the tip of the stem. Severe pruning causes multiple stems to sprout below the cut. More stems = more blooms. Plus you have to keep them in bounds, or they stain the ceiling, LOL
My first one at age 12 had 10 to 17 flowers per day one summer, sitting in full sun with the pot burried, at the end of the driveway.
I had to give it 2 - 3 gallons of water a day just to keep it from wilting.
I feed them when I put them out in spring, if I don't repot.
I'll post another pic when this one has lots of flowers.
Andy P

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

AndyP, I like your lollipop look too. I prune mine in the spring too; but, I have never given them that nice shape. Thanks for the idea. I might just try it next year. In my zone with the heat, they bloom very well during the summer. Then, they struggle a while in the August heat. We had many, many hot day with no rain in August and it continued into September (lots of days with 104 temps). October has been unusually hot as well. I have had to water mine a lot. A cool front just blew in and it feels just wonderful. As the temperatures cool some, the bloom colors become more intense here as the plants are refreshed after the heat. My bougainvilleas do the same thing. With the heat continuing so long, I am fearful that we may have an unusually cold winter. The last time this happened, we had record breaking cold. However, the last time it snowed here (meaning snow that actually accumulated and hung around a while, not just the few flakes that we sometimes have), the plants grew extraordinarily well that spring and summer and the blooms were very vibrant. I'll be waiting for some more photos.

Gallion, AL

i am sort of new to this. i have 3 beautiful hibiscus. do i need to bring them in for the winter? i really don't have the room in my house, what should i do. i live in alabama

no one has responded to my questions. how can i keep my hibiscus over the winter?

This message was edited Oct 31, 2005 8:55 PM

OC, CA & Twin Lakes , IA(Zone 4b)

Thanks for the info; My most favorite is a tropical hibiscus; Mine are all in pots and I drag them in for the winter once the temperatures here want to dip below 55 degrees.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

gljns2005, do you have a garage that you could put them in over the winter?

OC, CA & Twin Lakes , IA(Zone 4b)

If your garage would stay at 55 degrees that would be a good place. However, if the temp goes below that it could make them go dormant.

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