A hibiscus plant will make your home feel tropical and splendid, even if you don’t have a big garden and they’re easy to take care of if you know how.

hibiscus plant
Summer is synonymous with beautiful hibiscus flowers covering huge evergreen shrubs in big gardens. But what if you don’t have a big garden?

Well, a range of hibiscus that seldom reach more than 1.5 m, have been specifically bred for pots and small gardens. If 1.5 m is still too tall for you, you can keep the height in check.

Potting up a hibiscus is a simple job, so don’t let the thought of it put you off having one of these stunning plants on your patio!

hibiscus plant
The trick is to use excellent, high-quality potting soil such as Garden Master Premium Potting soil. This is good stuff – not only can you see from the dark, rich, loamy texture, but you will also see flecks of white perlite in it. Good soil such as this holds its structure well, is good at retaining water but also drains well – just what you need for a successful pot plant. To this, add some Atlantic Flower and Fruit Fertiliser – a really good organic, pelletised, slow-release fertiliser for flowering plants like the hibiscus. These are greedy plants, so they do best when they’re well fed.
hibiscus plant
Use a medium-sized pot, preferably of terracotta but any pot is fine as long as it has a good drainage hole – hibiscuses really don’t like wet feet. To improve drainage further and to make sure the soil isn’t washed out of the drainage hole, place a layer of broken terracotta pot or gravel at the bottom of the pot.

Take the plant out of the black bag it came in and gently tease out the roots. Speaking of roots, the hibiscus does not have invasive roots at all, so you can plant it near walls without danger.

Pop the plant centrally in the pot and make sure it isn’t too low in the pot. Remember – you don’t want any plant planted deeper than it was growing in the bag it comes in or you may cause collar rot.

hibiscus plant
Using a trowel, fill the pot with the potting mix you’ve already created. Then, gently work the soil in around the plant with the back of the trowel. You want the soil to stop a few centimetres from the top of the pot, so that when you water the plant the water doesn’t just flow off the soil and out of the pot. To finish off the pot neatly, place a layer of ornamental stones around the base of the plant. Another option is to underplant the hibiscus with a beautiful annual like alyssum or violas.

Finally, finish off the planting with a good drink of water. We recommend adding a dose of Kelpak liquid plant food to the water to get the plant off to a good, quick start. Hibiscus plants in the garden should be fed with a fertiliser like Wonder Super Bloom or Atlantic Flower and Fruit in spring and mid-summer. Those in containers would really appreciate a feeding of Nutrifeed or Wonder Colour Boost, to help them stay healthy.

hibiscus plant
Hibiscuses prefer full sun but will do in light shade, such as morning or afternoon shade or dappled sunlight. Mature plants that are settled into the garden are quite drought hardy but enjoy a regular watering every week or so, especially in hot weather. Those in pots as well as young plants should be watered more often if possible – during hot weather they should be given a good watering at least twice a week.

In terms of pruning, only prune after flowering – you can remove up to half of the current growth. In fact, you can reduce the plant by up to three quarters if you want the plant to stay compact. Don’t be scared when pruning a hibiscus – bad pruning won’t kill it!

hibiscus plant
Things to look for with hibiscuses include hibiscus stalk borer, which can be treated with a soil drench of a systemic insecticide such as Koinor. Aphids can also infect the plant, but can be removed with a spray of Efekto Garden Gun or insecticide granules around the base of the plant.

Everything you need to plant and take care of your hibiscus is available at your local Builders store as well as on-line at Builders.co.za.

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