Pruning Hibiscus benefits all varieties, but the timing and technique will differ depending on the variety and how long you plan to keep it. Hibiscus are lovely plants with lovely flowers, but after a few seasons of growth, your hibiscus may stop producing as many eye-catching buds.
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Why Prune Hibiscus?
Lightly trimming hibiscus promotes the growth of additional branches and a bushier shape. The more branches there are, the more lovely the hibiscus blossoms. Pruning, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, also eliminates damaged and potentially unhealthy leaves and branches. Pruning is an excellent strategy to keep any plant healthy.
When Is The Best Time for Pruning Hibiscus?
Major hibiscus pruning should be done in early spring. Make minor cuts to branches pointing outward and above a node during the spring and summer. Within these seasonal guidelines, adjust pruning depending on the specific needs of your plant. Your garden will be filled with healthy, fresh hibiscus buds after a little corrective trimming.
What’s the Difference Between Tropical and Hardy Hibiscus?
In a very cold setting, the best time to cut back the dead stalks of hardy hibiscus is in late winter or early spring. Be sure to leave about 6” inches of each stalk intact so you will remember where the Hibiscus tree is and won’t accidentally run over it with the mower.
With a hardy hibiscus, prune lightly to control the size and shape of the plant. Keep the flowers deadheaded and trim out damaged leaves, branches, and old-growth lightly throughout their active growing season. Cut back one third or less of the plants’ new growth overall to encourage more branching and more blooming.
Tropical hibiscus that grows outside all year should be trimmed strongly in the spring, summer, and fall seasons, then pruned at the end of the growth season. Tropical Hibiscus will become dormant outside in the winter if it gets too cold. They do bloom on new growth, but if you severely cut them, you will delay their development and bloom for months.
What About Potted Tropical Hibiscus?
In a cold winter environment, your tropical hibiscus should be kept indoors. If you’re going to let the plant go dormant for the winter, give it a short cut before storing it. If you’re maintaining it as a houseplant or in a greenhouse, prune it hard late in the fall before bringing it inside to grow for the winter.
How To Prune Hibiscus?
Hibiscus naturally grows tall, lanky, and top-heavy. This can cause the stems to lean, giving it an unbalanced and strange appearance. Check your plant on a regular basis and prune any branches that are bending to the left or right. This encourages bushier development and reduces sparse areas.
- When you trim back individual branches, look for leaf nodes. This is the point at which leaves emerge. Sometimes they just look like bumps, and sometimes they have little leaves growing from them.
- Trim just above the leaf node so you get good, bushy growth to the point where you cut.
- Encourage stalks to grow one way or the other by slanting your cut in the direction in which you want the plant to grow.
- Cut about a quarter-inch above the leaf node with the slant facing the way you want to direct the new growth.
- While actively growing, remember to never remove more than a third of the plant at once.
- Learn to pinch prune as appropriate
- Use sharp scissors, pruning shears or bypass hand pruners (Felco) to make clean, efficient cuts. Sterilize your pruning tools.
What is Deadheading?
Deadheading is the practice of removing wilted flowers as soon as they emerge in order to promote new flowering. Wilted flowers lose their aesthetic appeal and deplete the plant’s vitality. By removing them, your plant can generate new flowers. If you allow seedpods to grow, substantial energy for plant growth will be lost.
To deadhead, cut or break off the plant’s stem below the fading flower at the place where it connects the plant’s main stem. If you’re going to snip out fading blooms using scissors or bypass pruners, make sure the blades are clean and sharp. Germs are transmitted by dirty blades, while plants are harmed by dull blades. Before pruning your plant, wipe the blades clean with a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol.
How Do You Prune an Overgrown Hibiscus?
If mature Hibiscus have been neglected, they may be filled with dead branches and excessive, uncontrolled growth. In this case, hard pruning can work wonders. Cut back on as much of the old-growth as possible. When new growth appears, it is far more likely to bloom and prosper than the old-growth you have removed.
Hard pruning entails cutting the branches to a length of 6″ to a foot. Leave a couple of leaf nodes intact on each stalk. This is where future growth will come from. Although it may take some time for a mature Hibiscus to recover from such harsh pruning, you will be pleasantly pleased by the profusion of new growth and flowers when it does.