Although we are months away from cold weather, now is the time to begin preparing tropical hibiscus plants for the indoors.
Walter Reeves, known to many as the Georgia Gardener, says gardeners should start now pruning tropical hibiscus plants. The plants should be reduced to a size that will fit in front of a home's sunniest window come December.
"Though several members of the hibiscus family are perfectly content outdoors, the tropical hibiscus is not," Walters writes on his Web site, walterreeves.com. "If yours has grown vigorously outdoors, you'll have to prune it back somewhat to a small, more manageable size."
With dark green leaves and flowers in vibrant pink, yellow and white, the tropical hibiscus can be an attractive addition to the garden. Pruning the plant now while it is in bloom might be a heartbreaker, but doing so will ensure that it is ready to come indoors when it's time.
Some things to consider before pruning the plant include determining where to place the plant once it is brought inside. Reeves recommends a sunny spot because the tropical hibiscus prefers four to six hours of sun a day.
Several Web sites offer tips on how to care for the tropical hibiscus. One, about.com, even says the plant can be kept for a decade or more with special care through the seasons.
Plants should be moved inside when the temperature is consistently 55 degrees. Although that won't be for another three or four months in our area, you should trim the plant now in preparation for that transition.
If the plant is large, Reeves recommends trimming it back by a quarter its current size, which won't harm the plant. After it has been trimmed, and before it is brought indoors, the plant should be treated thoroughly for insects, using neem oil and liquid detergent.
"Preserve as many leaves as you can on the plant and place it in the sunniest spot possible," said Reeves. "Some leaves may drop during the winter, but a hibiscus will usually burst forth with new growth when you take it outside next April."
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