I live in the cold north and winters are long and cold. I have a small 1 foot by 1 foot tropical hibiscus and we are expected to have a freeze with temps about 25. I placed it in a pot in was in the ground. It is now inside and it bloomed very little in the summer, but now it has grown rapidly and has many large buds about to bloom. I want to keep it so I can plant it next year in May. I learned that I need to cut it back. Do I have to or could I just let it do its thing and will it bloom again?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Daniel in Connecticut: Tropical hibiscus provides those of us not living in the tropics a hint of the lush plants that grow in that environment. Unfortunately, we can’t grow them outdoors year-round since they can’t handle the cold temperatures of our winters so you were smart to bring your hibiscus indoors. It sounds like it is quite happy living inside your home. You must have good light since it has put on new growth and has continued to bloom. This is not typically what happens when we bring our plants indoors for the winter months. They usually stop blooming and slow down in terms of growth. This is due to lower light levels and humidity. You have probably discovered this already but you do not need to water your plant as often as you did during the summer, and you can cut back on your fertilizing as well. There is no reason to prune your hibiscus at this point unless it is too large for the space. It is perfectly fine to leave it as is and enjoy the flowers. Next spring after the frost-free date for your area passes you can take it back outside. It is always best to acclimate any sun-loving tropical back into the full sun. Even if it is in a bright window it is not the same as being in full sun outdoors. So, start by putting it in the shade and then gradually work it into the full sun. This will prevent sun scald.