Sometimes big things come in small packages, and that’s certainly the case with hibiscus flowers. They’re not likely to be one of the tallest flowering plants in your front or backyard flower plots, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be a sizeable part of your garden game.
What’s more, there are a lot more to flowers than size, which itself can vary depending on the conditions in which the flowers are kept and how well you take care of them.
In fact, while it’s known as a pretty petit plant, hibiscus samples can grow bigger than you might expect under the right circumstances.
So, what do those circumstances look like, and what kind of caretaking tips are essential for getting something big out of your hibiscus?
These flowers are known for their lithe stems that blossom into showy blooms. These can make a good supporting flower in any garden, but make no mistake – these flowers are meant to be the stars of the show.
If you’re looking for a flower that can stand out and get people to ooh and ah at your garden’s gorgeous colors, these are for you.
Part of what makes them so great is that they can grow in a variety of conditions. Though they prefer a fair bit of warmth and sun (what flowers don’t?), they can withstand cloudier and colder conditions better than other bright and colorful flowers.
How High Do They Grow?
As stated, these aren’t the kind of flowers that grow to gigantic sizes. That being said, how high your hibiscus grows depends in part on what hibiscus plant you have in the first place.
For example, H. moscheutos, nicknamed the “Luna Blush,” is a pretty small perennial, growing just between 2 to 3 feet and about 2 feet wide. Like most other varieties of hibiscus, it flourishes and grows best in soil that is moderately moist.
Other perennial hibiscus types can grow a bit larger, between 3 and 7 feet and between 2 to 3 feet wide, including (H. coccineus) and (H. lasiocarpos).
Both of these go by the nickname “Rose Mallow,” so you’ll need to be careful when purchasing hibiscus varieties with that name to make sure that you’re getting the right one. They have pinkish-white petals paired with scarlet centers and bloom best between the middle of summer to early fall.
Finally, there are a few hibiscuses that actually do grow to reasonably large sizes, including the H. rosa-sinensis, which is native to China. This flower can grow to between 10 and 12 feet tall and between 5 to 8 feet wide.
In addition, readers of The Grapes of Wrath will recognize the term “Rose of Sharon” (or, as it appears in the novel, “Rosasharn”) the name given to the Joad family’s beleaguered daughter and, yes, it’s a real flower, and a hibiscus at that.
This variety has special religious significance, appearing in Song of Songs 2:1 as a “lily among thorns” likened to “love among the daughters,” hence Steinbeck’s use of it for the Joad family’s daughter as a symbol of potential rebirth amidst the Dust Bowl and Depression.
Its real-life size lives up to that sizable reputation, being one of the biggest hibiscuses at between 8 to 12 feet.
Tips for Growing Hibiscus
One of the most important things for making sure you make the most of your hibiscus is making sure that they get lots of sun.
This is a warm weather plant all the way, and while you don’t want to dry them out, you don’t want to be stingy with sunlight, either. All plants and flowers need a mixture of shade and sunlight, but hibiscuses trend far more toward the latter than the former.
Hibiscuses are a tropical plant by nature, which means that it needs both plenty of warmth and an abundance of moist soil. It is essential that you water the soil often enough to ensure that it stays moist and never dries out.
The fact that it needs relatively constant warm weather means that you should keep hibiscus indoors if necessary until temperatures 24/7 are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
In terms of how to plant hibiscus plants, you’ll want to dig out a hole that’s at least twice as wide as deep (so as to give the roots and wide-set blooms plenty of room) and to place the plant into the plot.
As stated, hibiscuses are thirsty plants that need moist conditions, so you’ll want to make sure that you water it every couple days, especially during the first weeks after you have planted it.
Once it has taken, and especially from the second season after you’ve planted it onward, you should water it about twice a week unless it rains a lot for several days.
For as important as it is to keep your hibiscuses well-watered, however, you need to make sure that water doesn’t pool at the bottom, as this can lead to root rot.
As with many plants, you should water your hibiscus less during the winter months.
What you feed your hibiscus can also play a big role in how tall your plant grows. Miracle Grow and similar run of the mill fertilizers can do just fine in supplying your hibiscus with the nutrients it needs to grow healthily.
As with any plant, pruning is an essential step for making sure that your hibiscus remains healthy. Start pruning your hibiscus immediately once the petals start to fade or they turn brown.
Ideally, you should wait until you see new sprouts start to grow before you start to cut the stalks. Finally, you want to make sure that you do not cut the plants too close to the ground, as after all, they have to grow back next year.
If you have a small pot and are worried that these little plants might have a big root system, fear not, for that’s far from the case.
As with the plants themselves, hibiscus roots tend to be toward the small side, so while you want to leave more than enough room for them to expand outward as described above, you should not feel overwhelmed by this. A 10-gallon container with roughly 10 inches width should be more than enough to contain them.
Another nice thing about hibiscuses is that they tend to be low maintenance. They are by far some of the easiest flowers to take care of in this respect.
Many other flowers require a lot of precision, but once you plant them, you can pretty much leave your hibiscus to grow on its own and it will do so without a lot of fuss from you.
That means that these are excellent starter plants for newbies looking to add some color and variety to their garden. They still aren’t the easiest flowers to take care of by far, but they are easy enough to make the process pretty manageable and simply enjoy them once planted.
By following these tips, you can make sure your little hibiscuses can grow back bigger with a fuller bloom – and as perennials, that beauty can return from year to year.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.