Shrub of the Week: Hibiscus

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Another one of my favorite shrubs, the Hibiscus. I love the vibrant color flowers that these produce. There are tons of different colors and varieties of this plant, each just as beautiful and colorful as the rest. They are originally from China, and made its way here through the Pacific and Hawaii. Since it’s not native here, it is technically considered an invasive plant grown in many tropic regions. Most of the flowers are considered one day flowers, meaning they open in the morning and begin to wilt in the afternoon. Luckily here in Florida, the flowering season for Hibiscus is nearly all year long, so we can almost alway see these pretty flowers.

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This more bushy plant does better being left to grow rather than trimmed or shaped. They can range from small and bushy, but can grow as tall as 20 feet. If planting multiple Hibiscus plants, its recommended to leave about 4-5 feet between each plant to allow them space to grow. They will do much better in the southern half of Florida, because a younger smaller Hibiscus will be wiped to in temperatures lower than 30 degrees. So take precaution incase of the off chance of a Florida freeze.

When planting make sure to take note of the amount of sunlight. Full sun is preferred, but as long as the plant gets half a day of sunlight they should do well. They do not like areas of High Saturation, so also make sure the area it is planted drains well when choosing its location. Also check the pH of the soil when planting. A pH of 5.5-6.5 is optimal. Too alkaline of soil can lead to nutrient deficiencies. If you have issues with the color of the plant you can add some Manganese to help correct this.

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Keep an eye out for pests on Hibiscus. Many different types of chewing insects can be found on them including Caterpillars, Grasshoppers, leaf miners, etc. Also keep an eye out for sucking insects such as Mealybugs, Spider Mites, Aphids, whitefly, and thrips. Pest problems will be more likely in areas with poor air circulation, so keep this in mind when planting.

A common issue I’ve seen with Hibiscus is root rot. As mentioned before, these plants do not like wet feet. So keeping the soil from being too saturated it important. If they do start to have root rot issues, they will wilt and die quickly. Ive found in this case if you hit them with Heritage (a very strong Fungicide) and fertilize them heavy to push some new growth, they will some times pull through. If the damage is too far, the plant will not survive.