Can you plant hibiscus outside in Ohio now?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Carol in Ohio: I assume that you are referring to a hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) grown in a container. These woody plants are show-stoppers with their large blooms. They can add a tropical feel to any sun-loving perennial garden. If you have already purchased this plant it is best to get it in the ground as opposed to leaving it in the container. The risk you take at this time of year is the lack of root-to-soil contact; this makes them more susceptible to frost heaving. This is when the soil temperature changes and causes the plant to be lifted up from the soil and exposed to damaging weather. It is always best to have the new hole prepared before removing the hibiscus from its container. Make sure the planting hole is just as deep and twice as wide as the container it is currently growing in. Plant and treat it like you would any new addition to the garden. At this time of year you do not want to fertilize or water as much as you would if it were planted in the spring, but do give it a good soaking when you plant so the roots can get settled in. A thin layer of mulch will help retain moisture and help keep the heat in as well. Make sure to choose a space where the hibiscus will receive full to part sun and keep in mind that these are one of the last to put on new growth in the spring. At this time of year the plants should be pruned back to about 6 inches.