Hardy Hibiscus


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I bought a new house in March. It was well landscaped, but since it was March, I obviously didn't know exactly what plants to expect. One of the last mysteries was solved a few weeks ago when a large plant started to bloom hibiscus flowers. I live in Michigan, and with a little research, I've figured out it must be a hardy hibiscus.

I did some reading on how to care for them, but I found the information lacking in one particular area. This plant has taken over the entryway to my house. Am I supposed to cut it back as it grows? It is pretty thin and scraggly looking. Or, do I use something like a trellis? It doesn't attach itself to anything, so I'm not sure if a trellis will be very useful. As I said, I had no idea what it was until a few weeks ago, so it was definitely not cared for properly this season. I'm hoping someone can give me some advice so the entry to my house will not be overtaken in the years to come. Thank you!

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It looks like it has been neglected for a lot longer than since March. The plant needs a trim and some TLC, it also is growing in an odd way that suggests it is looking for some sun. You might consider transplanting it to a sunnier location. I don't know if the northern hibiscus tend to climb, but you should be able to make a nice bush of it that will be somewhat more tidy. The flowers are nice, but the vegetation needs tending to.
 
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It was cut all the way down to the ground for the winter. (which is what I read to do) All of that grew up this year. It is flopping somewhat in all directions. To the left, out of the picture, are some shrubs that prevent it from going too far in that direction. It is completely out of control in the other three directions. The way shown in the picture is actually north, so it is the least sunny of the directions for it to grow (it gets shaded by the house).

Ok. I ran out to take a few pictures even though I'm supposed to be working. (I know I need to clean up all the dead flowers- I've been stuck on overtime and it rains every day off I have!! Frustrating!!)
Anyway, one is from the porch, so you can see it sprawls everywhere. One is a close up of the ground, where all the stalks from previous years are visible. And lastly, I added one of the leaves because some type of bug has been eating away all summer long. Not sure what to do about that, either.

I do not have a green thumb whatsoever. My last house had a couple of shrubs and that was all. This house has hundreds of feet of landscaping- all the way around my house, along the fence line, around the shed, etc... I've been trying to keep it all up. I know if the former owners drive by, they probably cringe.

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If you want to save it, i would try transplanting it to a sunny location and give it some fertilizer or soil with good compost. It may be all over the place looking for both sun and food. Before transplanting, i would cut it back to 12". But looking at the photos it looks like an old plant so i would most likely propagate a new plant by way of stem, tip, or cane cuttings.
 

alp

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If I were you, I would take tons of cuttings. They are a bliss - hardy, big, bold, brash and striking and extremely easy to propagate. Have a look on youtube and you will be thrilled that some flower lover has passed this onto you. Plant them 3 or 5 in a group.. Drama and beauty.. what is there not to love!
 
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Hi from a fellow Michigander! :)

I've been noticing lots of hibiscus this year (growing as bushes, not climbing.) I did read that they do best in full sun, and if they are anything like peonies they should be easy enough to transplant in spring.

I see people sometimes using those round wire cages to support plants that tend to get unruly. They support just around the bottom third of the plant, allowing for a "natural" look and all the flowers to show, but preventing the plant from flopping over. I will be getting some for my giant hibiscus next spring.
 
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MaryMary

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giraffe326, Welcome to the forum!! :)

The damage to the leaves in your last picture reminds me of caterpillars/moths, so I did a little digging and found this:

Check the foliage below the hibiscus blooms for caterpillars of the io moth, the common hairstreak, the yellow scallop moth, the rose of Sharon moth, and the glossy black idia.
https://www.thoughtco.com/perennials-for-caterpillars-in-butterfly-garden-4028670

You may want to image-search and see if you recognize anything that's been flying around the plant, looking very happy! (y) (Or search for the caterpillars, then look for them...) It doesn't make for the prettiest plant, but they won't eat so much they kill it, either. (I tend to leave caterpillars alone unless they are eating my vegetables.)

Around here, people usually trim them into perfectly round balls. I've seen them in full bloom, as small as basketballs. The other day, I saw 5 placed across someone's front yard, big enough you could park a VW Bug behind it, and never see it. They were beautiful. :love:

Beverly, Beth_B, alp, (and/or anyone...) What time of year should they be pruned and/or transplanted? :confused: Also, if giraffe326 transplants it, would it be possible to divide the root system and get more plants that way?


Ok. I ran out to take a few pictures even though I'm supposed to be working...

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Welcome to gardening!! (y)



@alp, the page loads, but when I click "play" on the video, the block goes black, and I can't watch it. :(
 

alp

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@MaryMary It does work, albeit a bit slow. I actually saw Monty and his dog. Please try again. Metal rod turned into support, seems to be very easy.

Agree with @MaryMary here, definitely some bugs eating away your plant..
 

alp

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I personally think the plant is not in a wrong place, but I'm not an expert. There are flowers and it is a hot spot for a heat loving plant. But there are definitely bugs in that compost and that plant .. so might be a good idea to clear that up.
 
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Best not to cut Hibiscus right to the ground as you are encouraging vigorous growth, I would recommend to cut back by two thirds in late Autumn a good mulch around the base and granular fertiliser, these are hungry but beautiful plants. Can be transplanted between Autumn and spring.
 
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I feed mine every week during the growing season too give it a full look .
In my zone 7a , I cut it back to the ground each winter also
 

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