Growing Awesome Hibiscus from Bare Root
Growers have come to recognize the benefits of growing a high margin, quick turn perennials by starting with field-grown bare root. Hibiscus is an easy crop to grow if you follow some of the following guidelines.
Potting and Timing
Bare root Hibiscus should be potted immediately upon arrival. Pot one bare root plant per 3-gal container in a peat/bark soil mix with a pH of 6.0-6.5. Place the dormant plants directly outside after the last frost date and place on drip irrigation, taking care to space the pots a minimum of 18” apart. Allow 12-14 weeks for plants to finish.
Hibiscus require ample amounts of fertilizer to support its fast growth rate. Feed plants with a constant liquid feed of 150-200ppm nitrogen at every irrigation or incorporate a medium rate of controlled release fertilizer at potting. An EC rate of 2.5-3.5 using the pour-though method is best.
It is very critical that you never let Hibiscus dry out. Yellowing leaves and buds, and the ensuing leaf and bud drop, indicate that the plants are too dry. Drip irrigation is highly recommended.
Hibiscus requires very high light intensities to initiate flower production and to produce the proper foliage pigmentation. ‘Berry Awesome’ will be greener if grown indoors under UV inhibitor plastic, but will develop rich, olive green foliage when grown outdoors. Grow Hibiscus in full sun outdoors or if necessary, in greenhouses with very high light intensities. Long days are required for flowering.
Hibiscus is a crop that must be grown warm and thrives in heat—ideal temperatures are 68°F or higher. Cool temperatures will result in very slow growth and chlorotic foliage. Growing plants outdoors in summer is ideal as long as they can be kept moist.
Finished Hibiscus plants are an absolute showstopper at retail with big, tropical-looking bloomsPests and Diseases
Finished Hibiscus plants are an absolute showstopper at retail with big, tropical-looking blooms
The most common pests to attack Hibiscus are Japanese beetles, sawflies, spider mites, and whiteflies. Scout regularly for pests. Plant diseases are quite rare on this crop.
Pinching & PGR’s
After potting, pinch the top growth back once to 3-5 nodes. Drench the entire plant with 1ppm uniconazole (Sumagic) one week after pinching. Allow 6 weeks from the time of the last pinch to flower. Spacing plants very well is essential to creating well-rounded finished plants.
Forcing is not recommended for Hibiscus as they require long days for flowering, and it is costly to force them into bloom. It is recommended that growers allow these plants to flower naturally beginning in midsummer to maintain their margin on the crop.