Hibiscus – Overwintering on Balcony

(Question)

I would be most grateful if you could give me advice about caring for my Hibiscus over the winter in Toronto.

The plant is on my balcony facing south, mostly dry as there is a roof over balcony. It is in a container approximately 20 inch diameter and 1-1/2 feet in height. The plant (bush-like) is 2 feet, 5 inches tall. It has red flowers and has been blooming very well all summer and continues to do so. I would like to try to keep this plant over the winter months.

1. Can I wrap it with burlap and place it on the balcony where it will have the most protection from the wind and cold?

2. If you advise me to take it indoors, I am concerned about any bugs that perhaps might be in the soil that I do not want indoors. (I have not seen any such bugs)

3. Could you tell me how much water it would require during the winter? Should I feed it in the early spring?

Thanking you in advance for any information you can give to me.

(Answer)

Many people do overwinter tropical hibiscus indoors and this would be our recommendation for your hibiscus plant.   Be aware that the plant will lose some leaves due to the change in climate – Canadian homes are usually quite dry in the winter, and the light level will be considerably reduced.

Your hibiscus needs to rest  indoors during the shorter days from October till March. Do not push them to keep blooming indoors and leave them full of old foliage.

Cut back your plant to within 4-5″ of the main stems in order to help eliminate the bugs and insects that hide in the plants before you move it inside. Next remove any dead leaves, stems., old flowers or debris in the pots, or on the plants.   In addition, it is important to hose the plant down , making sure to blast the stems, under the leaves, etc. Let the plant dry thoroughly before you bring it inside.   If necessary, an insecticidal soap can be used to drench the upper and lower parts of the leaves, as well as the stems.  Dry thoroughly outside for a day or so before they come inside.  It is normal for the leaves to probably turn yellow and fall off when  the plant is brought inside but they should grow agian when they are ready. Water the plant very sparingly over the winter, making sure ths soil is almost bone dry before watering again.  Do not let the plant sit in water (in a saucer or container.) Repot your plant in good quality potting soil in the spring.

Below are some further web links.

www.chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/faq/overwintering_hibiscus

www.trop-hibiscus.com