How to Prune a Hibiscus Bush

By Shannon C , last updated May 13, 2011

Learn from experts how to prune and maintain growing hibiscus plants in your own home garden or landscape setting. The delicate, colorful blossoms that characterize the easy to grow and care for hibiscus plant are just one of the reasons why the hibiscus is a popular choice for flower gardens across the country. There are two main types of hibiscus, tropical and hardy. The tropical hibiscus has slightly more exacting care standards and is not recommended for cooler climates. The hardy hibiscus is the beginning gardener's friend, and is very amenable to a variety of growing conditions. The tropical hibiscus will also need more pruning and maintenance attention than the hardy hibiscus will, but both types are well worth the effort when their vibrant blossoms begin to appear.

When to Prune Hibiscus

The hardy hibiscus is rarely in need of pruning, except to remove damaged or diseased foliage. For best results, prune either type of hibiscus only between the months of February and August to avoid newly pruned growth coming into contact with harsh cold temperatures, which can damage new or exposed growth. If it becomes necessary to cut back the entire plant, this should be done during the spring.

How to Prune Hibiscus

To begin, thoroughly clean and sterilize pruning implements. You can use a weak alcohol and water solution or simply apply anti-bacterial alcohol based hand gel to pruning shears. Sterilization avoids transmission of fungal or bacterial disease. Next, examine your hibiscus for signs of damage or disease, and remove all affected foliage from the plant and the garden bed. Sterilize your pruning implements between each cut. To prune for size and shape, prune away no more than one third of existing growth, taking care not to simply lop off the top and damage new growth. Cut just above leaf nodes on an outward facing diagonal.

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