How can I care for a tropical hibiscus plant that is outdoors now for the winter? I know because of the cold it will not survive the winter. If I dug it up and placed it in a large pot will that help? My only problem is that I have two cats who love to chew plants, so how do I care for this plant?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Harvey: It seems like such a shame to have these beautiful tropicals in our garden all summer and each year having to choose which ones make the cut and which ones don’t. Tropical hibiscus is one that many choose to save. They are relatively easy to over-winter indoors as long as you can provide them with the right environment. Before moving it indoors, it is a good idea to dig it up and put it in a container with drainage holes and move it to a shadier location for a few days prior. This will help to acclimate the hibiscus to the light levels it will receive indoors. Ideally, it should be kept in a warm room near a bright window with adequate moisture. The more direct sunlight it can get, the happier the plant will be. The idea is to reduce stress and keep the tropical alive until next May when it can go back outdoors. Same idea applies here, initially place in a shady location and gradually work it into the full sun. This will keep the foliage from burning. Don’t be surprised if it does not bloom, but think of it as an added bonus if it does! As for your cats, keeping the plants out of reach would be the best solution but maybe not realistic. A diluted vinegar spray on the foliage may deter them; otherwise you can call your vet to see if they have any suggestions.