Hibiscus in pots: instructions for planting & suitable varieties

Lea
Lea
Lea
Lea

Having studied organic farming, I enjoy trying out new cultivation methods and other gardening experiments with friends in our community garden. I care deeply about exploring sustainable and mindful approaches to working with nature. This is my biggest passion, but I am also a real ornamental plant enthusiast!

Favourite fruit: strawberry, mango, guava
Favourite vegetables: artichoke, tomato, rocket

Many people only know hibiscus as sprawling bushes and hedges. We present a few smaller varieties that are also great for planting in pots. Find out all about growing hibiscus in pots.

potted hibiscus with large red flower
If you give it the right care, hibiscus can thrive in a pot [Photo: GalinaSh/ Shutterstock.com]

Some people do not want to do without a hibiscus (Hibiscus) even in the home or on the balcony. And they do not have to because hibiscus can also be planted in a pot. Of course, there are a few differences from growing them outdoors. However, once you know them, nothing stands in the way of growing hibiscus in pots. In our article, we tell you everything about suitable species and varieties, how to plant hibiscus in a pot and what to consider when caring for it.

Hibiscus varieties for the pot

Hibiscus varieties for growing in pots should be, first of all, small. Frost resistance is rather irrelevant here, since the plants spend the winter indoors. The most suitable for growing in a pot is the rose hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), also called Chinese hibiscus. This species of hibiscus also bears the name indoor hibiscus, so it is perfectly suitable to be grown as an indoor plant, on the terrace or balcony. The species of rose hibiscus includes an incredible number of varieties, some of which are rare. None of them are hardy. We present some varieties that have proven particularly suitable for growing in pots.

pink flowering hibiscus in pot
Smaller hibiscus varieties are suitable as container plants [Photo: Elena Zhi/ Shutterstock.com]
  • ‘Standing Ovation’: this variety convinces with red-orange and yellow, very large flowers. The plant can grow up to 15 centimetres in height.
  • ‘Tahitian Flaming Dragon’: this variety blooms pink with white stripes. The plant can grow up to 30 centimetres tall and blooms from April until November.
  • ‘Dark Continent’: with brown flowers outside and ruby red inside and a diameter of up to 18 centimetres, this variety is captivating. The plant itself can grow up to 30 centimetres tall and blooms from April to November.
  • ‘Jolanda Gommer’: the flowers of this variety are purple, red and orange. The plant rarely grows very high, a maximum of 30 centimetres.
  • ‘Voodoo Magic’: this hibiscus variety owes its name to its very special flowers. These are dark brown and have an orange eye in the centre. Flowering time is from April to November.

Even more hibiscus varieties can be found here in our dedicated article.

Planting hibiscus in pots

Before planting the hibiscus in a pot, it is necessary to find the right place for it. In summer, potted hibiscus can live both indoors and outdoors on the balcony, terrace or directly in the garden. Hibiscus likes a sunny and warm location, both outdoors and indoors. Therefore, it is best to put it on the windowsill if keeping it inside. However, the hibiscus does not like the blazing midday sun, so at noon you should close the curtain in front of the window or choose a place away from direct sun. A place above the heater does not bother the hibiscus, as long as it is supplied with sufficient water and humidity. That is why regular watering and humidification in the room is very important, more about this below.

potted hibiscus with two yellow flowers
Caring for hibiscus properly is important for vibrant flowers [Photo: Anastacie/ Shutterstock.com]

Potted hibiscus: location

Potted hibiscus feels most comfortable at indoor temperatures between 18 and 28 °C. If the temperature outside is consistently above 15 °C, your indoor hibiscus can move outside in the summer. Here, it prefers a semi-shady and sheltered location. Both indoors and outdoors, the hibiscus is extremely loyal to its location. This means that once it begins to bloom, it should not be moved. A change of location places great stress on the plant and can lead to the shedding of flowers. If temperatures fall below 15 °C in autumn, the hibiscus must move to its winter quarters.

Location: Hibiscus in pots

  • Inside: sunny, but no blazing midday sun
  • Optimum temperature range indoors between 18 and 25 °C
  • Only place outdoors when temperatures are constantly above 15 °C
  • Outdoors: semi-shaded and sheltered location
  • Bring inside in the autumn when temperatures drop below 15 °C
  • Do not change the location once flower appear
pink potted hibiscus on windowsill
A place on the windowsill, protected from the midday sun, is ideal for potted hibiscus plants [Photo: servickuz/ Shutterstock.com]

The right soil for hibiscus in pots

Your hibiscus will thrive best in a pot in soil that is rich in humus and nutrients. It is also important that this is very permeable and excess water can drain away well. Therefore, if the substrate is very compact it may be useful to loosen it with sand. You should create a drainage layer in the pot so that any water can drain away well. Otherwise, waterlogging can cause root rot on the hibiscus. Therefore, also make sure that the pot has a drainage hole.

Summary: Potted hibiscus substrate

  • Rich in humus
  • High in nutrients
  • Permeable
  • With drainage
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In the following, we have once again summarised the key points about planting hibiscus in a pot:

  • Select a sufficiently large pot
  • Create a drainage layer
  • Fill the pot with 1/3 substrate
  • Put hibiscus plant inside
  • Fill the pot with substrate
  • Water generously

For more tips on planting and propagating hibiscus, click here.

Caring for hibiscus in pots

Only hibiscus that is optimally cared for will reward you with lush flowers. Therefore, we explain what is important when watering, fertilising, pruning and repotting hibiscus.

orange and pink potted hibiscus
Some care is necessary so that hibiscus can grow well in the pot [Photo: afarland/ Shutterstock.com]

Read about general tips for hibiscus care here.

Watering hibiscus in pots

The hibiscus is a thirsty companion. Thus, its high-water demand requires regular watering of the potted plant. The substrate should never dry out completely, so you will need to water it more, especially in the summer. However, this requires a bit of tact. With the thumb test – simply press your thumb a few centimetres into the substrate – you can determine the moisture content of the soil. Water only when the soil feels dry to the touch. The whole substrate should be penetrated by water during the watering process. In no case should waterlogging occur. If the hibiscus is indoors on a windowsill directly above a heater, it will also be grateful for regular spraying with water.

Summary watering potted hibiscus:

  • Water more in summer
  • Water regularly and thoroughly
  • No waterlogging
  • No root dryness

Pruning potted hibiscus

To keep your hibiscus from growing too large in the pot and to keep it small and compact, you should cut it back annually. Since hibiscus forms its flowers on one-year-old shoots, spring is the ideal time for pruning. Then, gently cut back your hibiscus by 15 centimetres. The more the hibiscus is cut back, the denser the plant will become. You can also remove all the dried shoots, leaves and flowers.

Detailed instructions for pruning hibiscus can be found here.

Fertilising potted hibiscus

To muster enough energy for the lush and large flowers, the hibiscus needs adequate and regular fertiliser applications. In the pot, you should provide your hibiscus with nutrients once a week during the growing season from March to October.

potted hibiscus
A slow-release fertiliser, such as Plantura Flower Food, provides the hibiscus plant with essential nutrients [Photo: NeCoTi/ Shutterstock.com]

For this purpose, use a product such as our Plantura Flower Food. This consists primarily of organic matter and provides your hibiscus with sufficient nutrients in a long-term and gentle manner. In winter, the hibiscus in the pot is not fertilised

Plantura Flower Food
Plantura Flower Food

With a long-lasting effect, for healthy soil, child & pet friendly

For more information on fertilising hibiscus, see our dedicated article.

Repotting hibiscus

Proper care of your hibiscus also includes regular repotting. In the third year after purchase, the hibiscus should be repotted but at the latest as soon as the entire pot is penetrated with the roots of the plant. After the first repotting, change the pot every two years. Choose a pot that is only slightly larger than the old one. The best time for repotting is spring. To repot, proceed as follows:

  • Carefully remove the hibiscus from the old pot
  • Loosen the root ball well
  • Shorten long, protruding roots with scissors
  • Use new planting soil
gloved hands repotting hibiscus
Repot the potted hibiscus regularly [Photo: Sheila Fitzgerald/ Shutterstock.com]

Overwintering hibiscus in pots

Rose hibiscus is not hardy and must therefore spend the cold season indoors. During hibernation, the hibiscus should be placed in a cool, bright place. The optimum room temperature for overwintering is between 12 and 15 °C. Temperatures should never fall below 12 °C otherwise the hibiscus may shed its entire leaf covering. However, if your hibiscus loses a few leaves in the winter, you do not have to turn up the heat right away. A little leaf loss in winter is quite normal. Temperatures above 20 °C are more likely to harm your hibiscus now. However, even in winter, the hibiscus must be watered regularly. The substrate should never dry out but in the winter, you need to water much less than in the summer. Fertilising is not necessary during the dormant period in winter.

The most important things about overwintering hibiscus at a glance:

  • Bright location
  • Temperature between 12 and 15 °C
  • Water sparingly but regularly
  • Do not fertilise

Even more information on how to properly overwinter hibiscus can be found here.

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