Hibiscus is a gorgeous plant that sports huge, bell-shaped flowers. Though tropical types are typically grown indoors, hardy hibiscus plants make exceptional specimens in the garden. Wondering about the difference between hardy hibiscus and tropical hibiscus? Want to learn how to grow hibiscus outdoors in the garden? Read on.
Hardy Hibiscus vs. Tropical Hibiscus
Although the flowers may be similar, hardy hibiscus plants are very different from the fussy, tropical hothouse plants available in floral shops and grown indoors. Hardy hibiscus is a non-tropical plant that tolerates punishing winters as far north as USDA plant hardiness zone 4 (with protection), while tropical hibiscus won’t survive outdoors north of zone 9. Tropical hibiscus is available in single or double blooms in colors that include salmon, peach, orange or yellow. On the other hand, hardy hibiscus plants comes in single forms only, with blooms of red, pink or white – often as large as dinner plates. Tropical hibiscus displays deep green, glossy leaves, while the heart-shaped leaves of hardy hibiscus are a duller shade of green.
Hibiscus Care Outdoors
Hardy hibiscus plants are surprisingly easy to grow as long as you provide them with well-drained soil and a spot in full sunlight. The secret to success is to water enough to keep the soil evenly moist. This plant doesn’t absolutely require fertilizer, but a general-purpose fertilizer will promote vigorous growth and support blooming. Don’t worry if your hardy hibiscus plants die to the ground after a hard frost in autumn. Just cut them down to a height of 4 or 5 inches (10-13 cm.), and then wait for the plants to regrow from the roots in spring once temps begin to warm back up again. Don’t assume your plants have died if they don’t show up with the first hint of spring, as hardy hibiscus generally doesn’t make an appearance until May or June – then they catch up in a hurry with masses of blooms until fall.
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.
Victorian Stumpery Gardens: A Traditional Way To Garden Sustainability
A Victorian stumpery garden turns a sun-deprived spot into an enchanting, environmentally friendly wonderland of ferns and shade loving plants.
By Teo Spengler
When To Mulch Your Garden & Why Mulching Early Is A Bad Idea
When to mulch in the garden depends on what you want to achieve, whether it’s protection from the winter cold or summer heat, to add nutrients or to suppress weeds, learn about the best times to lay mulch.
By Bonnie L. Grant