Winter Care for Hibiscus

By Heather Rhoades
Published: December 1, 2014 | Last updated: July 17, 2017
Key Takeaways

Nothing adds a lovely exotic flair to your garden quite like a tropical hibiscus. While hibiscus plants will do fine outdoors in the summer in most areas, they need to be protected in the winter. Wintering hibiscus is easy to do. Let’s look at the steps for hibiscus winter care.

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Who should be overwintering hibiscus?

If where you live gets more than a few days a year below freezing (32°F), you should store your hibiscus indoors for the winter.


Indoor locations for hibiscus winter care

Hibiscus is not picky when it comes to indoor storage. Keep in mind, when you take care of a hibiscus indoors, their summertime, flower-covered glory will quickly fade. Unless you have an atrium or greenhouse, your hibiscus will most likely start to look less than stellar before spring returns. It is best to find a place to care for the hibiscus that will be out of the way—as long as you are wintering hibiscus in a place that stays warmer than 50°F, gets some light and is in an area where you will remember to water it.

Watering tips for care for hibiscus in the winter

The first thing to remember about hibiscus winter care is that hibiscus in the winter will need less water than it does in the summer. While watering is essential to your year-round care for hibiscus, in the winter, you should only water the plant when the soil is dry to the touch. If you water more than this, you may damage the roots. This will cause a significant number of yellow leaves on your hibiscus.


Are yellow hibiscus leaves normal?

You can expect to see a moderate amount of yellow leaves on your hibiscus when you take care of a hibiscus indoors over the winter. This is normal, and the plant is acting normally. If all the leaves have fallen off but the branches are still pliable, your hibiscus has just gone into full dormancy.

At this time, you may want to place it in a cool, dark place and allow it to stay dormant. These yellow leaves are why you will want to find an out-of-the-way place to care for hibiscus trees in the winter.

But, the benefit for taking the time to take care of a hibiscus over the winter is that you will have a larger and lovelier plant in the summer than you could ever buy in the store.


How to care for hibiscus plants in general

Growing hibiscus is an easy way to add a tropical flair to your garden. When you know how to care for hibiscus plants, you will be rewarded with many years of lovely flowers. Let’s look at some tips on how to care for hibiscus.

Choose a container


Many people who are growing a hibiscus plant choose to do so in a container. This allows them to move the hibiscus plant to ideal locations, depending on the time of year. A hibiscus prefers a cozy fit when growing in a container. This means the plant should be slightly root bound in its pot and when you do decide to repot, only give the hibiscus a little bit more room. Always make sure that your growing hibiscus plant has excellent drainage.


When you care for a hibiscus, you should remember that a hibiscus flowers best in temperatures between 60 to 90°F and cannot tolerate temps below 32°F. In the summer, your hibiscus plant can go outside, but once the weather starts to get near freezing, it is time for you to bring your hibiscus indoors.


When a hibiscus is in its blooming stage, they require large amounts of water. Your hibiscus will need daily watering in warm weather. But once the weather cools, your hibiscus needs far less water—too much water can kill it. In the winter, water your hibiscus only when the soil is dry to the touch.


A growing hibiscus plant needs lots of nutrients to bloom well. In the summer, use a high potassium fertilizer. You can either use a diluted liquid fertilizer one a week, a slow release fertilizer once a month or you can add a high potassium compost to the soil. In the winter, you do not need to fertilize at all.

In conclusion

These are the basics for how to care for hibiscus plants in your garden. As you can see, they are an easy maintenance, high-impact flower that will make a garden in any part of the world look like a tropical paradise.



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Written by Heather Rhoades

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Heather Rhoades is the founder of Gardening Know How, where she continues to write articles and answer questions relating to gardening.

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