Tropical Hibiscus originally comes from the Pacific Islands and Asia. It is a member of the Mallow (Malvaceae) family and Hawaii’s state flower. Many people want more of the beautiful hibiscus flowers and wonder how to grow Hibiscus from seed.
It should be understood that growing these plants from cuttings is the easiest propagation method. But starting hibiscus seeds is a fun way to increase plant growing knowledge and get some new plants.
Each of the plants’ scent-free, beautiful blooms typically lasts a day. Blooms, either single or double-petaled, range from deep blue/black to dazzling white and everything in between.
In this article, we discuss the propagation of these popular, captivating plants, focusing on growing hibiscus from seed.
How To Start Hibiscus From Seed?
If you live in an area with no mature hibiscus plants or want a specific variety, growing from seed may be your best or only option.
Luckily, growing Hibiscus from seed is quite easy, and it can prove to be a very cost-effective way to establish a varied collection.
While it is possible to grow any Hibiscus from seed, typically, only the hardy Hibiscus varieties (as opposed to the tropical varieties) are started this way.
This is because tropical varieties cannot be trusted to grow true (resembling their parents) from seed.
Follow these steps:
- Determine the last predicted frost date for your area. You should sow your Hibiscus seeds indoors 6 to 12 weeks before that date.
- Before planting your Hibiscus seeds, nick them with a sharp cutting implement and soak them overnight. Begin with hot water and allow it to cool overnight.
- Prepare a tray of well-draining soil, and sow the seeds about a half inch below the surface of the soil.
- Place the tray in an area where it will receive full sun (supplement with grow lights as needed) and a constant humidity level of about 60% percent.
- Keep the soil evenly moist. Seeds should sprout in 2 to 4 weeks.
- When the seedlings are over a month old, you can carefully transplant them into individual pots. Handle the roots very gently.
- When the weather warms up sufficiently outdoors, you can give your little plants some time in the sun each day. This will help harden them off before transitioning them to an outdoor setting.
- As the young plants grow, manage their shape and height by pinching the tips of branches back. Your goal is to keep the plants between 6” and 8” inches high and to encourage bushier growth.
- After the final frost, gradually move your plants to a sheltered outdoor setting.
What’s The Best Location For Hibiscus?
If you live in the northern United States, you can put your Hibiscus in a south-facing setting where it will receive bright sunlight all day.
If you live in a hotter climate, place it in an eastern location where it can receive full morning sun and some shade in the afternoon.
In a scorching, sunny location, you may also place a Hibiscus under trees that provide high, dappled shade.
No matter what sun exposure your plant receives, you must also be sure that it is protected from harsh winds yet receives good air circulation.
- If you prefer, you can prepare your seeds for soaking by roughing up a spot on each seed using a bit of sandpaper, rather than nicking the surface of the seed with a sharp cutting implement. This is a good way to involve children in the planting process safely.
- Planting at a half-inch depth is generally correct; however, seed size may vary. If you find this to be the case with your seeds, bury them twice the depth of the size of the seed.
- When covering your seed with soil, keep it light and airy. Sprinkle the covering soil over the seeds rather than back-filling the holes. This will prevent pushing the seeds into the soil too deeply or compacting the soil.
How To Grow Hibiscus From Cuttings?
Growing from cuttings is the usual method of Hibiscus propagation because it is carefree and ensures that the plant you grow will look exactly like the parent plant. In addition, it is an easy way to grow both hardy and tropical Hibiscus.
Follow these steps:
- Take cuttings in the spring or summer from new or softwood growth. As the names imply, this is growth that is not yet mature and is still green and pliable.
- Each cutting should be between 4” and 6” inches long. The bottom tip of the cutting should be taken just below a leaf node.
- Remove all the leaves except for the top two.
- Dust the bottom of the cutting with the rooting hormone.
- Prepare a small container of well-draining potting mix and perlite (50-50) for each cutting.
- Water the containers of soil thoroughly, and poke a hole in each container’s surface using your finger, a pencil, or some such.
- Place the cuttings gently in the holes and firm up the soil around each cutting.
- Lightly cover the cuttings with clear plastic to help hold in warmth and humidity. An easy way to do this is to place a clear plastic bag over each pot. Take care not to allow the plastic to touch the cuttings’ leaves.
You should see new growth within a couple of months. Once this happens, you will know that roots have developed, and you can transplant your cuttings into larger pots.
- If you only want one or two Hibiscus plants, take and start multiple cuttings. That way, you will have a better chance of success. Of course, you can always gift or trade extras.
- When you repot your cuttings into larger pots, use good quality potting soil amended with organic matter. It should be slightly acidic and have a good amount of potassium to encourage more blooms.
- Give your Hibiscus a feeding of a slow-release, balanced fertilizer two times annually in the early spring and mid-summer.
Enjoying Hibiscus In Many Garden Settings
You can never have too many Hibiscus! These attractive plants bring a tropical feel to any garden.
They can be used as spring and summer hedges, as specimen plants, in butterfly and pollinator gardens, and much more.
Both hardy and tropical Hibiscus can be grown from seed or cuttings. In either case, the hardy varieties are a bit easier to grow than the tropical varieties; however, as in all things, practice makes perfect.
We hope you learned more details about how to grow Hibiscus from seed and are ready to try it yourself. Always sow an extra seed and start extra cuttings to ensure your success. Are you ready