About Hardy Hibiscus

Did you know you can have the look of the tropics in your own back yard? Hardy Hibiscus are a stunning perennial with enormous dinner plate size blooms.

Planting Needs

Hardy Hibiscus thrives best in well drained soil, amended with organic matter. Hardy Hibiscus can be panted anytime the plants are available.  Best selection at Kennedy’s is usually June/July when they start to produce buds. To plant, dig a hole double the size of the pot and set the plant in, the crown of the plant should rest just at or above the soil surface. Press the new loose dirt around the plant and water. If you water and the base of the plant shows, add more soil.

Location and Light

If you are planting multiple Hibiscus, space plants 2 to 3 ft apart in the garden. Although the plant maybe small, these beauties reach 36” – 72” Tall, depending on variety and age.  Hardy Hibiscus is slow to emerge in cold springs or early summers, so be patient. You might not see leaves until late May.  Hardy Hibiscus does best in full sun. Anything less than 6-8 will affect flower production. Hibiscus should be planted alone, or in the middle or back of perennial flower beds.


We suggest your first watering with all outdoor plants, use a watering can a a solution of Organic Plant Magic.  A tablespoon and a gallon or two of water is usually enough.  Saturate the newly planted root ball with this solution.  If for any reason your soil lack nutrients you can fertilize the following spring with granular fertilizer such as Plant-Tone or a liquid like Organic Plant Magic or  Neptune’s Harvest.  It is not that picky, if the soil is dark and rich it shouldn’t need much fertilizer once established.


As mentioned above they prefer well drained soil.  In the beginning they may require a little more water.  In successive summers they may need an occasional watering if the soil is dry.  They will droop if they are dry.  The sooner they are planted and taken out of the pot the better.  Plants in pots dry out faster and Hibiscus grow fast so they out grow their pots quickly and then they require more water.  They do best planted in the ground, like most plants.


Hibiscus is hardy to zone 5. However, extremely cold winters with no snow can cause them to not survive. Adding some mulch around the plants roots is like having a blanket for cold winter nights. Certain plants like Hibiscus benefit from some extra mulch.

Animals & Insects

We have seen deer nibble on them, but we do not commonly hear about deer damage.  It is okay to spray a repellent on them once they start developing buds. We have also seen beetles eat the foliage, this is a little more common. Try to avoid spraying while the plant is in bloom in an effort to not harm important bees & pollinators.  A few holes in the leaves won’t kill them. If the beetles or similar insects are bad you can use Eight or another safe spray.  Bring a sample and/or photo to us at Kennedy’s and we can help you determine the severity and the solution.


Hibiscus produces new growth every year from the ground up. The old stems can be cut back in the fall or early spring for aesthetic reason before the new shoot emerge.  The dried out old stems look ugly mixed with new growth.  If you are growing an old fashioned variety that grows real tall, some people pinch the plants in June to encourage shorter stronger stems.  Newer compact varieties usually do not require that and if you pinch plants too late you can remove or delay the formation of flower buds.

Edited by Chris Kennedy, MCH, 3rd generation owner of Kennedy’s Country Gardens and landscape designer.

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