Monday, February 18, 2008

Trimming back a Hibiscus


We have a hibiscus indoors in a large pot. At present it is about 3' high and 3' wide. The leaves are starting to fall off. A friend told us we should prune back the branches. We are not sure how much and how far back to prune them. Perhaps you could give us an idea of just how much to remove from the plant.

Thank you for your time,

Jerry K.
Centerport, NY

Anne's Response:

The leaf drop could also be from moving air from a heating system and a change in the moisture level in the soil. I do not like to prune a plant indoors until it is time for it to start its spring growth. If you leave the hibiscus outdoors during the summer you may wish to wait until the end of March or early April to cut it back. If the plant has been in the same pot and potting soil for three years it is probably time to repot the plant as well. If you repot, remove the soil from the roots and trim 3 or 4 inches from the rootball before you repot it. Make sure the plant is watered well so the roots have good contact with the new soil. It is easy to remove at least 1/3 of the top growth of the plant. Reduce the height by removing branches so that you thin the plant for better air circulation as well as reduce its size. I find the tallest stem in the center of the plant and cut it back to an adjoining stem at the height I want the plant to be. I cut back the other major stems in the same manner then I tip prune the side branches. You want to remove any broken stems, stems that rub against each other and stems that grow down from a main branch.

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