For Mother’s Day this year my son gave me a hibiscus; it has the twisted trunk (three small ones twisted into one). It bloomed all summer but now that the temperature has gotten down cool at night I brought the plant inside the house. My question is should I prune it back some? It’s already tall, more than 5 feet in the pot. I don’t want it to get real tall but I’m not sure how to care for this plant.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Shirley: Tropical hibiscus are one of the most sought-after plants during the warmer months for those of us not living in the tropics. They are prolific bloomers and even though their blooms only last for a day they are never in short supply. As long as they are given a minimum of six hours of direct sun and proper nutrients they will provide blooms all summer long. Over-wintering your tropical hibiscus is certainly worth the effort. Ideally it should be in front of a south-facing window but any brightly lit room will work just fine; even a basement with a grow light will suffice. The idea here is just to keep the plant alive so you can take it back outdoors next spring. During the winter when the light levels are at their lowest the hibiscus will not require as much moisture or nutrients as it does during the warmer months. A watering schedule will depend on the temperature and humidity of your home but every 7-10 days is typical for these plants. It will not produce many blooms, if any, and it will not put on any new growth during this time. If you need to prune to fit it in the space go ahead and do so but if you can wait until spring that would be best. After the frost-free date for your area passes, take your hibiscus back outside and place it in a shady spot so it does not burn. Gradually acclimate back into the full sun, give it a dose of your favorite fertilizer, and water it well. The blooms will once again appear.