Growing Chinese Hibiscus trees

Chinese Hibiscus has the scientific name Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, but is known by a few different names including China rose, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow and shoeblack plant. Chinese Hibiscus plants produce stunning blossoms. Colours range from white, yellow, pink and even bright red, which is my personal favourite.

If you have ever wondered how to grow Chinese hibiscus in Perth then look no further. Chinese Hibiscus is a relatively easy tree to grow, however can be a somewhat high-maintenance plant, in my opinion they are well worth the effort. The below write-up attempts to summarise everything you will need to know.

When to plant Chinese Hibiscus trees:

Chinese Hibiscus can be planted most months of the year, but it’s best to plant Chinese Hibiscus during autumn. This will allow your plant time to establish roots before winter.

How much water do Chinese Hibiscus trees need:

To ensure the best care for your hibiscus plant, keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water daily during the first week after planting, then, reduce frequency to every other day in the second week. In general, aim to water the hibiscus twice a week, unless there is no rain or the weather is particularly hot and dry, in which case you may need to water every other day. By maintaining the right balance of moisture in the soil, your hibiscus will thrive.

How big can Chinese Hibiscus grow?

Chinese hibiscus can grow to be quite large, with some varieties reaching heights of up to 4.5 m and widths of 3 m. However, it is more common for Chinese hibiscus to reach a height of 2-2.5 m and a width of 1.2-1.8 m. The size of your plant will depend on various factors such as the growing conditions, the type of soil, and the amount of sunlight it receives. Chinese hibiscus is generally a fast-growing plant, so it can reach its full size within a few years if well cared for.

How to prune Chinese Hibiscus:

Pruning Chinese hibiscus can help to shape the plant, promote healthy growth, and encourage the production of flowers. Here are some general guidelines for pruning Chinese hibiscus:

  1. Use sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors.
  2. Prune away any dead or damaged branches, as well as any branches that are growing in an unwanted direction.
  3. Thin out the plant by removing some of the older branches to allow light and air to reach the centre of the plant.
  4. If you want to encourage new flowers, prune back the branches that have already bloomed. This will help to stimulate new growth and encourage the development of new flowers.
  5. Avoid pruning more than 25% of the plant at one time, as this can stress the plant and slow its growth.
  6. After pruning, water the plant well to help it recover from the pruning process.

Prune the plant in a way that preserve its natural shape and balance, and try to avoid over pruning.

How fast do Chinese Hibiscus grow:

Chinese hibiscus is a relatively fast-growing plant that can quickly reach its full size under the right growing conditions. In general, Chinese hibiscus plants can grow up to 1-1.2 m per year, although this will depend on factors such as the type of soil, the amount of sunlight and water it receives, and the overall health of the plant. If you provide your Chinese hibiscus with well-draining soil, plenty of sunlight, and regular watering, it should grow at a steady rate and reach its full size within a few years. It’s important to keep in mind that Chinese hibiscus is a tropical plant and will not tolerate frost, so it’s best to plant it in a warm, sheltered location where it can receive plenty of sunlight.

How to Chinese Hibiscus at home:

To plant a Chinese Hibiscus tree in the garden simply follow these steps:

  1. Choose a spot in the garden that receives full sun or part shade (depending on species). Enrich the well draining soil with a quality soil improver. If your soil is clay based, add gypsum and fork in well.
  2. Dig the planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball. Remove the shrub from the container. Gently tease the plants roots. Position the plant in the hole and back-fill with soil, gently firming down.
  3. Form a raised or doughnut shaped ring of soil around the outer edge of the plant’s root zone. This helps keep water where it’s needed. Always water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots.
  4. Mulch the base of your plant using wood chips (or similar). Keep the wood chips from direct contact with the trunk to avoid the spread of diseases.
  5. Water deeply, one to two times a week, depending on weather conditions.
  6. Feed every 6-8 weeks from spring to mid autumn with a soil improver and dynamic lifter and weekly with a liquid plant food for flowers.

How to grow Chinese Hibiscus trees in pots:

Growing Chinese Hibiscus trees in pots is a great idea if you want to grow a relatively small Chinese Hibiscus tree. I love to grow Chinese Hibiscus trees in pots because it gives you the flexibility to move them around the backyard to get the sun required.

  1. Choose a pot at least 60 cm wide.
  2. Place the pot in a full sun to part shade and fill with quality potting mix.
  3. Remove the hibiscus from the pot and gently tease out the roots.
  4. Position in hole and backfill with potting mix, gently firm down the topsoil. Water in well.
  5. Once planted, keep the plant well watered, but don’t let the water sit in a saucer at the base of the pot.
  6. Feed weekly with liquid plant food for flowers during the spring.

How to propagate Chinese Hibiscus trees:

here are several ways to propagate Chinese hibiscus. Here are three common methods:

Cuttings: This is the most common and probably easiest method for propagating hibiscus. Take a cutting from a healthy stem that is about 10 – 15 cm long. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip the cut end in rooting hormone help increase the likelihood of success. Plant the cutting in a well-draining seed raising mixture, water it, and keep it moist. Place the cutting in a warm location like a window with bright, indirect light.

Air layering: This involves rooting a stem while it is still attached to the parent plant and is a more advanced method. Choose a stem that is at least 1 year old and has healthy, mature leaves. Make a slanted cut through the bark on the stem and coat the cut with rooting hormone. Cover the cut with moist sphagnum moss, and wrap the moss in plastic wrap to keep it moist. When the roots are 1-2 inches long, cut the stem below the rooted section and plant it in soil.

Seeds: Propagating hibiscus from seeds can challenging. Start by soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours to soften the seed coat. Then, plant the seeds seed raising mixture and keep the soil moist. Place the seeds in a warm location with bright, indirect light and cover them with a plastic dome to create a greenhouse effect. When the seedlings are large enough to handle being moved, transplant them into individual pots.
Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to keep the soil moist and the plant in a warm location with bright, indirect light until it is established as hibiscus like the tropical warm conditions.

How to transplant a Chinese Hibiscus:

Sometime your hibiscus will outgrow its current home. This might lead you to want to transplant your hibiscus to a different spot.

Thankfully the process is pretty straightforward. First take a look and see how wide your plants canopy is. This is a good way to try to determine how big your root ball is. Carefully dig gently around the hibiscus plant in a circular fashion building off your root ball.

Don’t try to lift your plant too early. Once it feels loose you’re ready to lift the plant up out of the ground. It is important to be careful to maintain as much of the root ball as possible.

Make sure the new planting hole is about the size of the root ball, it’s important not to plant the plant too deeply, if it is too deep you can have troubles later on. It is also best to fill in with the soil that you dug out of the original hole rather than fresh soil. Water it in and then your Chinese Hibiscus is ready to thrive in its new location.

How to fertilise Chinese Hibiscus trees:

Hibiscuses like to be planted into fertile, slightly acid, well-draining soil. Heavy clay or light sandy soils will need to be improved with compost and animal manures. When planting a new hibiscus I recommend adding a soil improver regardless of the soil conditions to give your soil a boost and kick start your plants growth.

The key to healthy hibiscus is to mulch generously and water regularly. Chinese Hibiscuses are thirsty plants, and require a deep watering once a week. Conserve the moisture by covering their roots with a thick layer of mulch (but avoid contact with the trunk of the plant).

Well-maintained hibiscus plants produce a large volume of flowers over many months of the year. To promote healthy growth and blooms fertilise about once a month with a liquid plant food, which is suitable for hibiscus (there are some brands specifically for hibiscus available). Move the mulch around each plant to lightly pour the liquid fertiliser evenly on the soil beneath the plant, water well in, and replace the mulch once done.

Chinese Hibiscus common pests:

Hibiscus beetle causing holes in flowers can damage hibiscuses. Metallic flea beetle can cause holes in leaves and aphids can damage the buds and new shoots.
However, many people prefer to put up with a little damage rather than using pesticides.

Is Chinese Hibiscus poisonous?

No, It’s completely safe. No part of the Chinese Hibiscus plant is poisonous to humans, so it is safe to have the plant around children, toddlers, and babies. This is not to be mistake with the Norfolk Island Hibiscus which can cause skin irritations.

How to grow Chinese Hibiscus

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