Hibiscus Cuttings: How To Grow Hibiscus Plants From A Cutting

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is commonly called Chinese Hibiscus. You may also hear the various types of Hibiscus referred to as “hardy” or “tropical” Hibiscus. 

You’ll be happy to know that propagating Hibiscus is quite easy no matter what type you have. Hardy Hibiscus is easier to start from cuttings than tropical Hibiscus; however, both types are vigorous growers.

blooming Hibiscus plantPin

Both types are easy to start from cuttings. All can propagate in water, coco coir, or soil. In this article, we explain how to start Hibiscus cuttings. 

Take The Right Kind Of Cutting

The best time to take Hibiscus cuttings is in the late spring or summertime. More on pruning Hibiscus. During this time, Hibiscus experiences the greatest growth. This means that your cuttings will be most likely to survive and thrive.

When you take cuttings from a Hibiscus plant, be sure to choose softwood growth. Softwood is precisely what it sounds like. These are smaller branches that are not yet stiff and mature. Instead, softwood will be a bit greenish and easily bendable. 

Prepare Your Cuttings

The ideal Hibiscus cutting should be between 4″ inches to 6″ inches in length. Once you’ve chosen your cuttings, prepare them by removing all but the very top set of leaves.

The lower tip of the cutting should be trimmed at a 45° angle immediately beneath a leaf node. This is the bump in the stem where leaves grow out.

When you take Hibiscus cuttings, be sure to use a set of very sharp, clean pruning shears. If you can place them directly into a container of water as you work, it will help ensure the success of your cutting project.

If you cannot place your cuttings directly into the water as you work, you should re-cut the tip of the cutting at a 45° angle before placing it into soil or water to root.

Once you’ve prepared your cutting, dip the bottom end into a rooting hormone powder for best results if starting your cuttings in soil or coco coir. 

How To Grow Hibiscus from Cuttings In Soil Or Coco Coir

The best soil for starting Hibiscus cuttings is a well-draining mixture of about half standard potting soil and half perlite. Coco coir is also an excellent medium for starting cuttings. 

No matter which you choose, set up small pots or containers with ample drainage and 2″ or 3″ inches of your starting medium. 

Poke a hole in the starting medium and put your cutting in. Be sure to make the hole first and place the cutting in it. Don’t poke the hole in the potting mix using the cutting, as this can damage the cutting.

Backfill around the cutting so that it stands up securely and you have good contact with the soil or coco coir all the way around.

Place the cuttings in an area that stays consistently warm and receives bright, indirect sunlight. Consider placing a plastic bag over the cutting to keep humidity high.

Keep the rooting mixture slightly damp until you begin to see new growth. Once this has happened (in approximately 8 weeks), you can reduce watering somewhat. 

Mist the cuttings every day to help keep the soil evenly moist. Avoid overwatering as this can lead to rot.

Continue to keep cuttings in an area that provides consistent warmth and indirect sunlight. Protect them against bright, harsh, direct sunlight and extremes in temperature.

When transplanting your cuttings, keep as much of the original planting medium around the roots as you can. Then, transplant them into individual pots with a standard potting mixture surrounding the original substrate.

How To Root Hibiscus Cuttings In Water

You can save a lot of steps by simply taking your cuttings from the parent plant and placing them directly into the water. When you root your Hibiscus cuttings in water, you can watch the growth of the roots. 

This is fun, interesting, and a good way to know whether or not your project is successful. For example, when rooting Hibiscus cuttings in water, you’ll notice that white bumps begin to grow on the cuttings after about a week. Then, in about a month, you’ll see tiny roots start to form.

Additionally, when you root Hibiscus in water, you can place several cuttings into one container or vase to save space and simplify the process. You can keep your cuttings in any consistently warm area that receives bright, indirect sunlight. A vase of Hibiscus cuttings can make a nice conversation piece on a kitchen table, windowsill, coffee table, or desk. 

5 Tips For Successfully Rooting Hibiscus In Water

  • Always use warm water to avoid shocking the cuttings. It’s best to use rainwater or bottled water, but you can use tap water that has been left standing for twenty-four hours to allow chemicals to dissipate. NOTE: Do not use softened water under any circumstances as it has an excessive amount of sodium.
  • Include a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide to help fight fungal infection.
  • Change the water at least once a week to prevent fungal infection. The best practice is to change the water daily.
  • When you change the water, rinse the container thoroughly and lightly rinse the stems of your cuttings under warm running water to prevent fungal infection.
  • You’ll know your cuttings are ready to transplant into soil when the roots turn a light shade of tan. You can place the cuttings into individual pots with a high-quality potting mix when this happens. Water deeply and keep the soil moist until your cuttings become established.

How To Pot Hibiscus Cuttings

For best results, use specially formulated Hibiscus topsoil. Put each rooted cutting in its own pot. The ideal pot will provide about an inch of space around the roots of the cutting.

To create a Hibiscus soil mixture, combine high-quality potting soil with one part peat moss or sand to provide better drainage and a little bit less nutrition.

Be very careful when transplanting Hibiscus cuttings as it is easy to damage the tender young roots. Ensure that all of the leaves are above the soil and not touching it.

Pour about an inch of the substrate into the bottom of the pot. Hold the cutting centered in the pot and pour substrate around it. Press it down lightly and add more soil as needed. Leave about an inch of space at the top of the pot for easy watering.

After transplanting your cuttings, continue to keep the young plants in an area that provides consistent warmth along with bright, indirect sunlight. After a couple of weeks, gradually move the plants into an area providing direct sunlight. Help your plant grow evenly by rotating it every week or two so that the entire plant gets the right amount of sunlight.

Keep Your New Hibiscus Plants Well Watered

Hibiscus are very thirsty plants and may need daily watering through the summer months. Your goal is to keep the soil consistently slightly moist but never soggy. If you do find that the potting soil seems to be wet, reduce watering to every other day.

When your Hibiscus is outdoors in the spring and summer months, use water at the same temperature as the surrounding air. When you bring your Hibiscus indoors in the winter, use warm water to encourage new growth.

Pro Tips For Hibiscus Rooting Success

  • Start several cuttings at the same time. This will give you the best chance of success. If you end up with more than you need, you can always give some away.
  • Some gardeners swear by honey as a rooting hormone! Just coat the cutting tip with honey and place it directly into your rooting medium. 
  • Take care not to touch the tip of the cutting with your hands because the natural oils from your skin or residue from products such as hand lotion may interfere with the rooting process.
  • Tropical Hibiscus roots best in a mixture of peat moss and sand. The best combination is one part peat moss and three parts sand. 

Be patient! It is normal to take up to three months for new roots to form on cuttings. As long as you don’t see any signs of rotting or disease, keep caring for your cuttings until new roots and leaves form.

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