September 10, 2016
At the beginning of the summer, I had a beautiful yellow hibiscus on my patio until the deer ate all the leaves. I kept watering and fertilizing it and it recovered about mid-July (lots of green leaves), but it still has not bloomed. I fertilize it with Osmocote smart release plant food. I spray it occasionally with deer repellant to prevent a repeat of the deer buffet. What do I need to do?
Tropical hibiscus plants bloom on the new growth. They like full sun—a minimum of six hours, but more is better. I too use the slow release fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season, but I supplement with either a water soluble or granular faster acting type every two weeks or so in the summer. With as much rainfall as we have had or the amount of watering we need to do when it is hot, the nutrition in the soil gets leached out. Tropical hibiscus can continue to bear flowers until a killing frost—I still had some blooms last December, but check the nutrition and the sunlight and let’s hope you see some blooms soon.
November 14, 2015
Could you please identify the attached picture? My neighbor doesn't know what kind of bush this is that is now blooming in her yard.
The plant in question is a type of hardy hibiscus that only blooms in the fall. It is commonly called Confederate Rose, or Hibiscus mutabilis. The carnation-like blooms open in the morning either light pink, or white and fade to dark pink or pink depending on the variety. In Arkansas, they are reliably winter hardy from around Searcy south. If you want to insure success, take some cuttings prior to a hard freeze and root them in water. This is a great method to share with friends as well. Then next spring plant outside. They like full sun and ample moisture, and even though they look like shrubs or small trees now, the woody stems die to the ground after a killing frost. They have done extremely well this year. I have had a few complaints from gardeners who say theirs usually begin to open and get killed by a frost. That can be affected by when we have our first frost, and how much sunlight the plants receive. In light shade, they will bloom a bit later.
When we moved to our new house we brought our hardy hibiscus with red flowers. I planted it near a pecan tree. It bloomed this summer, but now the bloom stalks are dying. Could the pecan tree be the cause of this? Do I need to move it or is it too late to save?
Hardy hibiscus plants are deciduous and die back to the soil line every year in the fall. This year, as dry as it was, many started the process a little early. If your plant bloomed, it is obviously getting enough sunlight, but do keep in mind the two factors for success with a perennial hibiscus are sunlight and water. The pecan tree also uses a lot of water, so they may be in competition. I think it will come back just fine next season.
I have some hardy hibiscus plants that were planted about six years ago. They come up every spring and seem to double each year. They are beautiful, but have become so big that they are hard to manage. I'd like to divide them and have several friends who want a start from them. Can this be done? If so how and when should it be done?
I would suggest digging and dividing as they emerge next spring. For now, they have gone dormant. When new sprouts appear in the spring, dig up the clump, and separate them into several crowns per division. Replant in a sunny moist area, and they will bounce back and should bloom that season.
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