Hibiscus plants are renowned for their vibrant and showy flowers, making them a popular choice for gardeners looking to add a splash of colour to their landscapes. Bare root hibiscus, as the name suggests, refers to hibiscus plants that are sold without soil around their roots. This guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to successfully grow bare-root hibiscus and ensure their healthy growth and abundant blooms.
Choosing the Right Variety:
Before purchasing bare root hibiscus, consider the climate in your region and choose a variety that is suitable for your area. Popular hibiscus varieties include Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Tropical Hibiscus), Hibiscus moscheutos (Hardy Hibiscus), and Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon). Each variety has its own unique growth requirements, so make sure to select one that aligns with your gardening conditions.
Timing and Preparation:
Bare-root hibiscus plants are typically available for purchase during spring or late winter when they are dormant. This is the ideal time to plant them.
Before planting, inspect the roots to ensure they are healthy and free from any signs of damage or disease. Soak the roots in water for a few hours before planting to rehydrate them.
Selecting a Planting Location:
Choose a location that receives full sun for at least six hours a day. Hibiscus plants thrive in warm and sunny conditions.
Ensure the soil is well-draining to prevent waterlogging, as hibiscus plants are susceptible to root rot. If your soil retains too much moisture, consider amending it with organic matter or planting the hibiscus in raised beds.
Prepare the planting area by loosening the soil to a depth of about 12 inches. Remove any weeds or grass from the area.
Incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to improve its fertility and drainage. This will provide a nutrient-rich environment for the hibiscus roots to establish.
Planting the Bare Root Hibiscus:
Dig a hole that is wide enough to accommodate the spread-out roots of the bare-root hibiscus.
Place the hibiscus plant in the hole, ensuring that the crown (the point where the roots meet the stem) is level with the soil surface. Gently backfill the hole with soil, firming it around the roots to eliminate any air pockets.
Water the newly planted hibiscus thoroughly to settle the soil and provide moisture to the roots.
Watering and Fertilising:
Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water deeply once or twice a week, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.
Apply a balanced fertiliser formulated for flowering plants every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Follow the package instructions for proper dosage and application methods.
Pruning and Maintenance:
Regular pruning is essential for maintaining the health and shape of your hibiscus plant. Prune any dead or damaged branches and shape the plant as desired. The best time to prune is in early spring before new growth begins.
Remove spent flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming and prevent seed production, as seed production can divert energy away from flower production.
Not sure where to begin? Read our article “Pruning Tips Every Beginner Gardener Should Know” for more details.
In areas with mild winters, hibiscus plants can be left in the ground with some winter protection, such as a layer of mulch around the base of the plant.
In colder regions, consider lifting the bare root hibiscus plants before the first frost and storing them in a cool, frost-free location, such as a basement or garage. Keep the roots slightly moist and replant them in the garden in spring.
Read our article “A Guide to Protecting Your Plants This Winter” for more information.
By following these guidelines, you can successfully grow bare-root hibiscus and enjoy their spectacular blooms. Remember to provide them with proper care, including adequate sunlight, well-draining soil, regular watering, and appropriate pruning. With time and patience, your hibiscus plants will reward you with a stunning display of colourful flowers.