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Its botanical name, Hibiscus mutabilis, refers to the seemingly ever-changing flower colors. The flowers are huge, and 6-inch blooms in your fall landscape are a sight to behold. Beginning in late summer, the flowers open nearly white, and then turn pink and finally a bright red as they senesce at the end of the day.
This plant is a green, woody shrub for most of the summer, as it will not start to bloom until late August or early September. But believe me -- it’s worth the wait.
The plants produce literally hundreds of blooms per plant. As the old flowers fade, there are new ones opening. On a typical day, there will be loads of flowers in varying shades of white, pink and dark pink.
Growing hibiscus is an easy way to add a tropical flair to your garden. When you know how to care for hibiscus plants, you will be rewarded with many years of lovely flowers. Let’s look at some tips on how to care for hibiscus.
Growing Hibiscus From Seeds
Nick the hard seed coat at the wider, rounded end of the seed with a clean craft knife.
Soak the Seeds
Soak the seeds in a small bowl of hot water for up to 24 hours. Begin the sowing process 12 weeks before your last expected spring frost.
Prep the Planting Tray
Fill a planting tray with moist seed-starting mix, usually a soil-less product that combines perlite, vermiculite and peat moss.
Sow the Seeds
Sow the seeds 1/4 inch deep, firming the moist seed-starting mix over the seed. Place one seed per plug if your seed tray has inserts that hold the mix in separate 1- to 2-inch compartments. Otherwise sow seeds a few inches apart so seedlings will be easy to remove later.
Keep Them Warm
Set the tray on a waterproof greenhouse heat mat set to 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit or in a room with the same temperature range.
Cover the tray with its included clear plastic dome or with plastic wrap to keep moisture in.
Check the Seed Tray
Check the seed tray regularly over the one to three weeks it takes the seeds to germinate. Ensure the soil is moist but not soggy. Too-wet soil can cause the seeds to rot before they germinate.
Remove the Plastic
Remove the plastic when plants emerge and move the tray to a site where it receives bright, indirect sunlight.
Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer mixed to half its recommended strength with every other watering after the seedlings produce their first true leaves – the first pair of leaves after
the initial seed leaves that emerge at germination. Water enough to keep the potting soil evenly moist, never letting it dry out or become waterlogged.
Transplant the Seedlings
Transplant the seedlings to separate 1-gallon containers filled with standard potting soil when they have at least three sets of leaves. Allow them to grow in a sheltered area for several weeks before transitioning them to their permanent outdoor location when all danger of frost has passed.