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Hibiscus: Care And Maintenance

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer
11 July 2015   |   6:21 am
                      THE name hibiscus is practically synonymous with ‘‘tropical,” thanks to the large boldly colored flowers and thousands of hybrids, or varieties – ‘‘cultivars” in gardening lingo. Flowering hibiscus is a treasured shrub among many gardeners. The hibiscus plant with it blooming flowers have quite…
Dwarf hibiscus spp. Dominate border edging garden lawn

Dwarf hibiscus spp. Dominate border edging garden lawn

Hibiscus ‘Snow Queen’ with variegated foliage

Hibiscus ‘Snow Queen’ with variegated foliage

White hibiscus looks pretty dainty on wooden fence

White hibiscus looks pretty dainty on wooden fence












THE name hibiscus is practically synonymous with ‘‘tropical,” thanks to the large boldly colored flowers and thousands of hybrids, or varieties – ‘‘cultivars” in gardening lingo. Flowering hibiscus is a treasured shrub among many gardeners.

The hibiscus plant with it blooming flowers have quite an enticing look that brings an interesting beautiful exotic air to the landscape.

That’s Hibiscus rosa-sinensis the “China rose”. This tropical hibiscus is wonderful. All hybrids are descendants of H. rosa-sinensis we all know well, but the new ‘‘exotic” or ‘‘fancy” hibiscus hybrids are huge, multicolored, multi-shaped, splashy, and amazing. They grace a tropical garden. It’s the state flower of Hawaii and national flower of Malaysia. Our own author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie named her first novel “Purple Hibiscus” after the magical delicate flower.
They’re easy to grow. Don’t think these garden treasures are difficult. It’s quite the opposite. All they ask for is full sun, decent soil and some pruning once in a while and a site protected from strong winds. The plants are easy to grow in slightly moist soil and full sun sites.

In the previous article, it was stated that healthy hibiscus rarely succumb to pests and fungal attacks, if it is receiving good care and right management.
Choose the perfect location

Try to find a sunny site that has good drainage, water pooling will drown out your hibiscus on the other hand avoid a location that is primarily sand.
Amend soil

Hibiscus have picky soil requirements, so it’s worth it to take time to amend the soil prior to planting them. Test the pH of your garden soil, hibiscus prefer acidic soil, so anything above 6.5pH will have to be made more acidic. Additionally, you will need to supplement the soil with plenty of nutrients and fertilizer. Mix garden in a garden compost several weeks (or months, if you have the time) prior to planting. You will also want to add a fertilizer to the soil mix that is low in phosphorus and high in potassium.

If the pH of your soil is too basic add in peat moss to balance it out.

Common low phosphorus/high potassium fertilizer includes a 10-4-12 mixture or a 9-3-13 mixture.

Are you watering your hibiscus correctly? Too much or too little will stress a hibiscus and impede growth. Try to keep your hibiscus plant moist not soaking wet. Make sure that the soil is damp at all times as when it dries out, it can cause wilting and heat stroke in plants.

Although pruning sounds counter intuitive, it actually helps to promote new growth and cause more blossoms to appear. Never cut more than 2/3 of a single branch at a time, as this can harm hibiscus more than it helps. These carefree plants, will bloom month after month to brighten up any landscape.

Fringed hibiscus (H. schizopetalus)’ Japanese Lantern’ red flowers

Fringed hibiscus (H. schizopetalus)’ Japanese Lantern’ red flowers

Hygiene To keep your hibiscus clean:
Pick up spent flowers and throw them away.
Clean pruning shears with waterless cleaner or alcohol every few cuts and between plants.
Prune away broken branches and treat cut ends with waterless hand cleaner or alcohol.
Use good watering practices that keep soil moist but never soggy.
Wash your hibiscus by hosing or spraying once or twice a month during dry months.

Keep your hibiscus pest-free. Hibiscus pests are known to be major vectors, or carriers of disease.

Managing Fungal Diseases
Hibiscus plant can suffer from some fungal disorders, brown or black leaf spots and black mould on leaves are two signs of fungal disease. An effective commercially available natural treatment for fungus problems is lime sulfur, also known as calcium polysulfide. Alternatively, a home remedy to manage black spot can be made mixing 1 teaspoon of horticultural oil with one gallon of water, and then, spraying the plant.

7.-Yellow-hibiscus--shows-prominence-in-border--amidst-companion--shrimp--plants-(Justicia-brandegeeana)-CopyPest Control
Typical pest problems that is prevalent known to hibiscus growers are while fly, aphids, spider mites. Aphids are found at the tips of shoots and on the buds. They cause uneven, circling leaves and stunted growth Spider mites latch on the undersides of leaves. The leaves develop white or brown spots and finally wither and drop off. An infestation of whitefly, which will coat hibiscus leaves with wax residue and ultimately defoliate the plant. Can best be controlled naturally using an organically approved insecticide soap or horticultural oil.

To keep beetles and other chewing insects at bay spraying with pyrthrium is recommended. In cases of mild infestation, simply removing insect problems on hibiscus plants includes wettable sulphur, copper barriers to stop slugs and introduction of beneficial insects as hoverflies and lady bugs, which eat aphids.

Natural Pesticides For Hibiscus Problems
Use natural pesticides to control hibiscus problems such as whitefly and leaf spot.
Natural, or organic, pesticides are nonsynthetic agents used to curb pesky insects, fungal or weed infestations in the garden, and include fungicides and herbicides as well as insecticides. For the optimal management of problems with hibiscus varieties (Hibiscus spp.), accurate identification of garden pest is essential. You must select the correct natural pesticide for the specific hibiscus problem to ensure adequate control or prevention.
About Herbiscides, or weed killers, can be injurious if applied too closely to hibiscus plants. A common sign of herbicide damage to an hibiscus plant is burnt-looking or discolor and damaged leaves. So, if applying any natural herbicide, such as a homemade vinegar solution, to nearby weeds, avoid spraying the hibiscus plant. Furthermore, never apply herbicides or any pesticides, during windy conditions. Beside mulching, which is the best way to control weeds, other natural weed treatments include drowning and vegetable oil injection.

Using Pesticides correctly
Remember that just because a pesticide is labeled natural or organic does not mean that it cannot be hazardous to both plants and users. Therefore, it is essential to use any purchased natural pesticide precisely as directed. For sprays to work effectively, you must apply them to both sides of the hibiscus plant leaves, and do not spray them when temperatures rise above 90 degrees reapply natural pesticide sprays and powders regularly usually every 7 to 14 days.

Good companions
Hibiscus is partnered effectively by other sun loving plants particularly those with silvery leaves. Plant around the base of woody stem classy groundcovers like ‘Wandering Jew’ (Tradescantia spp.) and ‘rose periwinkle’ (Vinca spp.) with proper care, your hibiscus will explode with abundant growth and prolific show-stopping blooms for years to come.