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Keeping Hardy Hibiscus Over The Winter

By GrowJoy
Photograph courtesy of GrowJoy

Question: We just planted three hardy hibiscus that we purchased from GrowJoy. The plants are thriving! We need a little help to know your recommendations for winterizing. Mulch…burlap…fertilizer? Thanks for helping with this.

Mark and Jacquie S.

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Answer: Thank you for purchasing some of our wonderful hardy hibiscus plants. They are such a great way to create that tropical feel in our yards for those of us in the northern areas.

Hardy hibiscus need a dormancy period during the winter. These plants are typically hardy from USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4-9, but some varieties have lower tolerance for cold. Make sure you check the information for your specific variety and also check your zone.

For winter care, wait until there has been a killing frost (one that turns the leaves brown) and then trim the stems back. Hardy hibiscus are considered a perennial plant, not a shrub, so they will die down to the ground each winter.

To help them survive the cold, cover the plants with a thick (8 to 12-inch) layer of mulch. Chopped leaves or pine needles are great choices. This will help protect the root ball through winter. 

Spring Tips for Hardy Hibiscus

Hardy hibiscus are slow starters in the spring. So have patience! The soil temperatures need to reach the 70-degree range to bring them out of their winter sleep. In early March all the mulch that was added in the fall needs to be pulled back and removed so the soil can warm up faster on the sunny days.

Once you see their new sprouts emerge, give them a dose of fertilizer. We recommend Jacks Blossom Booster. Plants should be fertilized every three to four weeks throughout the growing season.

Some varieties like to self-sow, so keep an eye out and you may have some new plants to share with your friends. And if you’re thinking of adding a new variety this year, check out our full selection here. Happy gardening!

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