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Planting a President Hibiscus

Deborah Asked

My deceased son gave me a President Hibiscus a few years ago and it is getting very large. I want to plant it in my yard. Can I do that as it is listed as a tropical flower? We have been bringing it in during the winter, but it is too heavy now to carry inside. Will I kill it if I move it to the ground? It is early September and the days are 90 and the nights are 60s. I live in Southern OHIO!! Almost on the KY border.

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Deborah: The hibiscus that your son gave you is considered a tropical plant for anyone not gardening in USDA hardiness zones 9-11. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘President’ is frost sensitive and does not like our harsh winters. It sounds like you have successfully over-wintered yours for several years; continue with the same routine.  It can seem drastic to cut back a healthy plant, especially when it holds a sentimental value, but pruning and transplanting to a lightweight container will make it more manageable to move in and out. Plant caddies with wheels are also helpful in moving larger containers. Before you bring it inside, transplant to a lighter container if needed and prune it back by one-third to one-half. Make your cuts just above a leaf node and look at the overall shape as you prune. Bring it indoors before the first frost and give it as much light as possible. A south-facing window is ideal. Leaf drop is normal during this time as it adjusts to the lower light levels. You can cut back on your watering as well as fertilizing at this time. Do not let the hibiscus completely dry out, but the soil should not be sopping wet either. Watering will depend on the temperature and humidity of your home. When spring arrives and the frost-free date passes, move your hibiscus back outside. These tropicals bloom best in full sun but remember to gradually acclimate it to a sunny location.  This will prevent foliage burn. Increase sunlight, water and nutrients and enjoy the blooms!

Angie Oakley

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