Hibiscus are prolific bloomers outside in tropical locations and require little assistance in achieving a spray of showy flowers. While it is possible to grow hibiscus as a houseplant, getting them to flower will require a little hands on attention from you. The good news is, I find encouraging blooms on my hibiscus much easier than some of my other indoor flowering houseplants – looking at you African Violet!
The number one thing you can do to encourage flowers on your plant is to keep it in good health. Inside, hibiscus plants that are suffering from stress over lack of light, dry soil, or pests are going to put their resources towards survival instead of blooming. To get your plant in tip-top shape, see my tips for General Hibiscus Care. Make sure your plant is free of pests, getting enough light and not too little or too much water.
Inside your home, hibiscus will likely flower seasonally. I am in Southern Alberta, Canada and my tree flowers in summer. It wasn’t until June that I noticed it was covered in small buds and they didn’t blossom until early July. This is normal. Don’t try to rush your plant but here is what you need to do in spring to prepare it for a summer show:
In early spring, just as you notice the days are getting longer and there are more hours of light for your plant, give it a good prune. Because hibiscus bloom on new growth, you’ll want to encourage the plant to put out new stems and we can do that by cutting back some old ones. Don’t cut more than 50% of the foliage off and if your tree defoliated completely over the winter, don’t prune it until you see new ones forming. It should be at the beginning of an active growth stage when you prune it. Then, it will have no problem replacing the lost stems and adding new ones too.
You can see in the photo above, where I pruned the tree, it responded by shooting out two new branches from directly below the point where I cut. Blooms will form at the top of those new branches.
And here is another branch that threw out two new branches from below the prune.
Providing your hibiscus plant with nutrients is key to achieving good health, and therefore flowers. I’ve been using an organic fish emulsion based fertilizer and have been so pleased with the results! The blooms this year are much larger and deeper in colour and so is the foliage. I attribute this directly to this fertilizer. Fertilize only during the growing season when your plant is going to use the nutrients or you may burn the roots or cause strange lanky growth.
Unfortunately, I’m not seeing this brand online – their website is down but ask your local garden center for a fish based option with these same numbers 3-2-5. It should work just as well if you can’t find this exact brand. I’m giving half the recommended dose at every watering and right now in July, that’s about twice a week. This is the thirstiest plant but just look at the results! These blooms are larger than my hands and so vibrant! Once summer is over, I’ll cut back on feeding as I notice growth slowing.
I’m happy to baby this indoor hibiscus though because it has provided so much joy in our home – especially now when we are staying home so much more. Every morning we are waking up to a new bloom, the previous days being spent, and we are literally ooohing and ahhhing over how large and beautiful they are.
I’m confident you can get your plant here too but be patient. Plants that are coming direct from the greenhouse may have blooms on them already and once they’re gone you might have to wait until next spring to see more. Use the seasons in between to get it nice and healthy and ready for another show.