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How To Prune Hibiscus {Step By Step}

Hibiscus is a healthy, vigorous plant, and one that can get out of control pretty fast! How to prune Hibiscus, I hear you cry… And we have the answers!

Pruning plants can actually help them grow stronger and healthier, as well as making a bit more space in your garden.

When To Cut Back Hibiscus?

When To Cut Back Hibiscus

The best time to cut back any plant is when it is in its dormant stage, before any new growth starts appearing.

In the case of Hibiscus, this time is in winter or early spring. This means that you can trim your plant back at these times without causing any damage to the new growth!

Hibiscus don’t bloom from the stems that are from the previous season, so you are actually doing your plant a favour by cutting it back quite hard.

These plants can grow in a lot of different locations around the world, so make sure you trim your Hibiscus at the time that it is winter in your area, before the spring growth.

Pruning your Hibiscus in the summer could potentially damage the plant, plus it will also reduce the amount of pretty flowers you get to see!

The early spring is the latest time that you should consider pruning your Hibiscus; it really needs doing before the plant properly gets going.

Does Hibiscus Bloom On New Or Old Growth?

This is a question often asked by gardeners – if you prune a plant hard, will it come back that year or the following one?

In the case of Hibiscus, it should bloom on the new growth – ie the plant will spring back after you have pruned it the previous year.

This being said, if you get a little too carried away with your snippers, you may stress the plant so much that it cannot bounce back in the same year.

Most tropical Hibiscus like a good, hard pruning, but in some cases excessive trimming can delay the growth and set back the flowering schedule by weeks or even months.

Stick to pruning the plant to about a third of its size, leaving 2-3 nodes on the branch to allow the new growth to come in.

How Big Does A Hibiscus Get?

  • The exact size of your Hibiscus plant will depend on which type of Hibiscus you have got – there are several different varieties.
  • The smaller types, such as the hardy Hibiscus, can reach between 2 and 3 feet, while the larger types, like Rose Mallow, can grow up to a whopping 7 feet tall!
  • They don’t grow as wide as they do tall, luckily for those who want to grow them in the garden, with the biggest varieties reaching about 4 feet wide.
  • Hibiscus grow very fast, compared to a lot of other plants, and can reach their full size by 2 or three years old.
  • A Hibiscus in a pot will naturally not grow as large as its outdoor planted companions; this means that you can still grow these lovely plants even in a small garden.
  • Potted Hibiscus do still need their space, however, so you may need to repot them if they start to look as though they’re wilting or stressed.

How To Trim Hibiscus?

Trimming your Hibiscus is actually really good for it. You may feel like you’re being cruel, but trimming your Hibiscus will help it to thrive even better!

Pruning your Hibiscus will promote new shoot growth, and can also rejuvenate the plants after their winter sleep.

  1. Start by making sure your secateurs or shears are sharp, and clean. You don’t want to be transferring diseases from one plant to another!
  2. Trim your Hibiscus plants about a third of the way into the bush, ensuring that there are at least 2-3 nodes on the branch, to allow new growth to arrive.
  3. Cut the stems just above the new growth nodes, so that new growth will arrive in the spring.
  4. If you spot any dead, dying or diseased growth then you should definitely remove this, for the health of the entire plant.
  5. Pruning is a great time to check for infestations of pests too, and you may find that there is lots to remove once you get started – and maybe consider a pesticide regime.
  6. Remove branches that are growing towards the center of the plant, as these will not receive enough sunlight to survive.
  7. Keep an eye out for branches that are crossing over, or excessively leggy. These will not contribute to the health of the plant as a whole.

This is a great video that shows you how to prune your Hibiscus in a way that helps it stay healthy, and bloom more:

Should I Deadhead My Hibiscus?

Deadheading, in the case of most plants, helps to encourage further growth of blooms, and helps the overall health of the plant.

This also makes the plant itself look better – you can focus on the new blooms rather than the old, spent ones.

However, you don’t actually need to deadhead your Hibiscus at all – in fact, pinching off those dead flowers can cause problems with later blooming.

Removing the spent flowers can prevent your Hibiscus from having a “late” bloom, which can happen if it is a mild autumn.

Not only will deadheading Hibiscus take up a lot of your time – most flowers will bloom in the morning and wilt by the evening – it really is not necessary.

The one exception to this rule is if you spot a flower looking poor or sickly – then it is recommended that you remove it.

Picking off blooms that are infested with creepy crawlies is definitely a good idea, as the flower will not look its best anyway, and removing it can help prevent the spread.

Final Words

Now that you’ve found out how to prune Hibiscus for the best results, you can happily get your secateurs out without fear of killing the plant!

Remember that pruning is beneficial to the plant, as it allows for new growth and the removal of any diseased stems.

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