Hibiscus Propagation: How To Propagate Hibiscus


By: Heather Rhoades

Propagating hibiscus, whether it’s tropical hibiscus or hardy hibiscus, can be done in the home garden and both varieties of hibiscus are propagated in the same way. Hardy hibiscus is easier to propagate than the tropical hibiscus, but never fear; with a little bit of knowledge about how to propagate hibiscus, you can be successful at growing either kind.

Hibiscus Propagation from Hibiscus Cuttings

Both hardy and tropical hibiscus are propagated from cuttings. Hibiscus cuttings are normally the preferred way of propagating hibiscus because a cutting will grow to be an exact copy of the parent plant.

When using hibiscus cuttings to propagate hibiscus, start by taking the cutting. The cutting should be taken from new growth or softwood. Softwood is branches on the hibiscus that have not yet matured. Softwood will be pliable and often has a greenish cast. You will mostly find softwood on a hibiscus in spring or early summer.

The hibiscus cutting should be 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm.) long. Remove everything but the top set of leaves. Trim the bottom of the hibiscus cutting to be cut just below the bottom leaf node (bump where the leaf was growing). Dip the bottom of the hibiscus cutting in rooting hormone.

The next step for propagating hibiscus from cuttings is to place the hibiscus cutting in well draining soil. A 50-50 mix of potting soil and perlite works well. Make sure the rooting soil is thoroughly wet, then stick a finger into the rooting soil. Place the hibiscus cutting into the hole and backfill it around the hibiscus cutting.

Place a plastic bag over the cutting, making sure that the plastic does not touch the leaves. Place the hibiscus cutting in partial shade. Make sure the rooting soil stays damp (not wet) until the hibiscus cuttings are rooted. The cuttings should be rooted in about eight weeks. Once they are rooted, you can repot them in a bigger pot.

Be warned that tropical hibiscus will have a lower rate of success than hardy hibiscus, but if you start several cuttings of the tropical hibiscus, there is a good chance at least one will root successfully.

Propagating Hibiscus from Hibiscus Seeds

While both tropical hibiscus and hardy hibiscus can be propagated from hibiscus seeds, typically only hardy hibiscus is propagated this way. This is because the seeds will not grow true to the parent plant and will look different from the parent.

To grow hibiscus seeds, start by nicking or sanding the seeds. This helps to get moisture into the seeds and improves germination. The hibiscus seeds can be nicked with a utility knife or sanded with a bit of fine grain plain sandpaper.

After you have done this, soak the seeds in water overnight.

The next step in propagating hibiscus from seeds is to place the seeds in the soil. The seeds should be planted twice a deep as they are big. Since hibiscus seeds tend to be small, you can use the tip of a pen or a toothpick to make the hole.

Gently sprinkle or sift more soil over where you planted the hibiscus seeds. This is better than backfilling the holes because you will not inadvertently push the seeds deeper.

Water the soil once the seeds are planted. You should see seedlings appear in one to two weeks, but it can take up to four weeks.

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How to Grow a Hibiscus From a Cutting

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Hibiscus shrubs are subtropical deciduous plants that grow to a height of 15 feet and produce large, brightly colored flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds into your garden. While the San Francisco area isn't subtropical, the mild summers and winters and moist, foggy days provide suitable growing conditions for hibiscus. Hibiscus roots easily from cuttings in early spring, so you can quickly start a new plant from an established plant.

Locate a stem about as thick as a pencil in the new growth of an established hibiscus. Cut a 5- to 6-inch length of the stem about a quarter-inch below a node with at least one other node on the stem.

Fill a container with three parts sand and one part peat to within an inch of the lip of the container. Gently tap the container on a solid surface to settle the medium.

Strip the leaves from the bottom portion of the cutting, leaving three to four leaves near the top. Push the cutting into the sand and peat mixture just far enough so it supports itself.

Water the growing medium until it is moist but not waterlogged and place the container in an area where it receives plenty of diffused sunlight. Keep the growing medium moist, and the hibiscus roots should form in four to five weeks.

Transplant the newly established hibiscus into a larger container or permanent place in your garden after the roots have established and you notice new growth.


How to Grow Hibiscus Outdoors

Last Updated: August 20, 2020 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 17 testimonials and 92% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 298,365 times.

The bright, showy blooms of the hibiscus plant are prized by gardeners who want to add a tropical feel to their landscapes. There are several hundred species of hibiscus, including both dwarf varieties that grow to 2 to 3 feet (0.61 to 0.91 m) to plants that can exceed 8 feet (2.4 m) (2.4 m) in height. Many people find that planting hibiscus in containers outdoors is optimal, as they can be moved indoors in frost conditions. Whether you decide to grow container plants or ground plants, you’ll need to plant them, give them basic care, and keep them warm during winter to successfully grow them outdoors.


Preparation for air-layering?

Air layering is easy, especially for experienced gardeners. If you are new in gardening or just air layering. Then don’t worry follow these steps to proceed. All these steps are tried and tested many times.

  1. Sterilize the knife using rubbing alcohol or sprit. You can also wash it with boiling water just for 2 minutes.
  2. Make small pieces of plastic sheet. The ideal size is 4-inch wide and 6 -inch long. I would suggest using a transparent plastic sheet for visibility. This is optional, any plastic sheet will work fine.
  3. If using Aluminium foil then sterilize this also. Be gentle with aluminum foil. Try not to make any hole in it, prevent any damage. The wrapping should be airtight. At least no water or insect should enter the wrap.
  4. Select a healthy parent hibiscus plant. The parent plant should be free from any fungus or diseases. It should also have at least 3-4 healthy branches.
  5. Spraying antifungal solutions before making any cut is commercially advised. The use of any contact fungicide will protect the plant from any fungal attack.

This is all you need to do before air layering. If you follow each of these steps carefully. then at least 90 % of your layerings will be successful.

How to grow Hibiscus by air-layering?

There are some variations in air layering on hibiscus. The simple method of air layering using compost and soil is the most popular way. Other than this using sphagnum moss, cocopeat, or coco coir is also gaining popularity.

Commercially the use of soil and compost is considered the best for air layering in hibiscus. Here I will discuss the commercial way of growing hibiscus. Don’t worry, this method very easy and cost-effective method. You can get 100s of new plants from each parent plant every year.

Start with selecting a healthy beach and follow the procedures carefully.

  1. Make two sharp round cuts just below a node or leaf. The cuts must be at least 1 -2inch apart.
  2. Remove the bark in between these two cuts. You can use a scalper or just your nails.
  3. Scratch the cambium using the knife. The cut portion should be clean and white. No skin connection should be left in the section. This is the most important step. If a single thread-like piece is left connected then the branch will not develop roots. Remove the bark completely.
  4. You can now apply a thin paste of rooting hormone over this cambium. This is an optional step. The roots will develop without any rooting hormone. This is only used to speed up the process. After applying let it dry for 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. During this time make a thick dough of 1 part garden soil and 1 part compost. If you don’t have any compost the just use the garden soil.
  6. Make a 2inch round ball of this dough. Break it in two halves.
  7. Paste it over the cambium and gently press. The dough to cover the node region completely. It should be soft and moist. You can also use moist sphagnum moss instead of soil. I prefer soil for this step.
  8. Now gently wrap this dough with a plastic piece. Make it tight and firm. Don’t worry this will not harm your plants. You can also use aluminum foil for wrapping but it will increase your costing and efforts. A small plastic sheet is enough for this step.
  9. Tie both ends with string or thread. The knot should be tight enough to hold the dough inside the plastic. Follow the rule- The tighter the knot, the higher success rate you will get.
  10. Leave the branch with the knot as it is for the next 30 days. You need not water the joint. In fact, don’t water the branches during these days. You can water the plant if required.
  11. New roots are visible after 30 to 40 days. You can Wait a few more days if unsure.
  12. After 45 days cut the branches just below the knots. Don’t open the knot at this time. The roots can break if you try to open and then cut the branch out of the plant. It was the first mistake I did so be careful.
  13. First, collect all the branches. Prepare a soil mix of 50% compost 30% garden soil 20% coco peat.
  14. Carefully open each knot one by one. Avoid disturbing the root ball.
  15. Fill half a pot with the prepared soil mix.
  16. Place the new plant in the middle. Gently fill the pot with the same soil mix and tap with hand to settle the soil.
  17. Water the pots thoroughly. Try to make the soil completely wet for the first time. After than water only when the soil gets completely dry.
  18. Place the pot in a semi-shade for 1 week or 10 days. After that, You can grow your hibiscus directly to your garden or in a bigger pot.
  19. Last but an important tip- Don’t get over-excited. A little hurry can destroy your month-long effort. So keep patience and wait for the correct time for cutting, reporting, and watering.

I can assure you that this is a 100% working method for propagating hibiscus. I have tried and tested these methods more than 6 times. So work out carefully for the best results.

If you are still having any problem then please let me know.

Special tips for air-layering in Hibiscus

There are some secret tips that I have learned with experience and from commercial gardeners.

Hibiscus loves a warm tropical climate. So Always grow hibiscus in the sunny spot of your garden. You will get more blooms in this area.

Don’t water your plant regularly. Yes, you heard this right it seems ridiculous but it works. If you keep the soil dry and let you plant droop a little. Then the plant will develop more roots in search of water It will make your plant strong and keep it healthy.

It doesn’t mean that you let it dry every day. Just keep the soil dry for 4-5 days and then water the plants. Apply water thoroughly and let it sinks completely.

Spray the air layered branches with an antifungal solution once every week. Also, spray a mixture of 11-11-11 NPK and Epsom salt to the leaves in every 15 days. These are optional steps but if you follow these carefully. Then you will get healthy hibiscus plants with frequent blooming.

Final Words

Growing hibiscus with air layering is always recommended. The plants you develop using the air layering method will bloom and grow faster than others. Sometimes air layering is considered tricky and difficult. If you follow everything carefully then you will definitely get lots of healthy plants. Still, if you think it is difficult then let me know. I will try to solve your problems.

Write your views and suggestion below in the comment box. Keep reading Keep gardening!


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I live in the warm Caribbean where there are only two seasons -- rainy and sunny -- and I find it really easy to propagate hibiscus cuttings outdoors by immersing the cuttings halfway into a pail or container of water for a couple of weeks until rough white bumps of the roots appear, then plant and care with a fertilizer every two weeks. PS. Keep the water level after evaporation. DylanB August 11, 2012

@shell4life – It sounds like you have the perfect environment for rooting plant cuttings! I have plenty of heat here in the summer, but I don't have a lot of moisture.

Most of the time, around the middle of summer, my hibiscus plants start to either look a bit wilted or develop a few yellow leaves. In the extreme heat of July and August, there is really nothing that I can do to keep them happy.

So, I am going to try to propagate a few in early June. That way, I can catch them while they are still in good shape. giddion August 10, 2012

I never knew how to properly propagate hibiscus plants. I just assumed that since they produced so many large seed pods, I should just plant the seed.

A couple of years ago, I planted about twenty hibiscus seeds in some potting soil. I kept the soil in a warm room where they could get sunlight, and I kept the soil moist. Before long, little green shoots sprang up, and I took really good care of them.

I didn't realize until several weeks later that the shoots were not even hibiscus plants. They were little blades of grass! I had been carefully maintaining little grass shoots for weeks!

It's good to know that hibiscus plants need to be grown from cuttings. I really thought that I had done something wrong, but my only mistake was to use the seed instead of a branch. Kristee August 10, 2012

This article is very helpful. I tried last year to grow a couple of new hibiscus bushes from cuttings without success, but I missed the important step of using a rooting hormone on the plant cuttings.

I will try again this year with this new information in mind. I am looking forward to actually growing the new hibiscus this time! shell4life August 9, 2012

I live in a warm, humid climate, and I propagate hibiscus cuttings outdoors without plastic sheets. The air is damp enough that I don't need to cover the cuttings to keep them moist.

We get a shower just about every afternoon, and the cuttings love this. I believe that the rain helps them grow even more than when I water them out of a sprinkler can.

My friend lives further north in the same state, but she experiences drought in the summertime often. She has had a lot of trouble getting hibiscus cuttings to grow, even though she does cover them up and tries to keep them damp.


Transplanting Hardy Hibiscus

Use 1-gallon pots that have been filled with potting mix to transplant your hardy hibiscus seedlings. Scoop out soil in the middle of each 1-gallon pot to the size and depth of each of your planting receptacles.

Gently strike around the rim of each of the 4-inch pots to remove a hardy hibiscus seedling. Cut off the top section of the peat pot to soil level. This helps to prevent moisture loss to the roots.

  • Try and keep the temperature warm, approximately 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use 1-gallon pots that have been filled with potting mix to transplant your hardy hibiscus seedlings.

Place a hardy hibiscus seedling into the gallon pot. Ensure it’s sitting level and straight and planted approximately a half-inch higher than the surrounding soil in the pot. Scoop in potting mix around each of the hardy hibiscus seedlings. Pat down the soil to remove any potential air pockets. Water each of the seedlings making sure the soil is well moistened.

Once the hardy hibiscus have grown to approximately 8 to 10 inches tall, transplant them permanently outside, or into barrels or other large growing containers.

Prior to planting your hardy hibiscus outside, acclimate them to outdoor temperatures. Situate them in a protected location in your garden for two to three hours a day for 14 days before planting them in their permanent location. Plant hardy hibiscus where they will receive full sun.


Growing Hibiscus

Before growing Hibiscus, a fair amount of planning is required. Do you want to grow them in your garden, use them for landscaping or hedging or keep them pots that can be kept indoors or out? What size and type of plant do you want?

Potted culturing has to be confined to the smaller varieties. For outdoors, the size is dependent on the use. Large types are ideal for landscaping. Those used as hedges can be medium in size. If you want the Hibiscus to blend with other plants in the garden, smaller ones are ideal. For bonsai, use old, compact plants with small leaves.

Check with nurseries or other growers in your area to ascertain which species is best suited for you. You cannot be sure of the color of the flowers unless a plant you purchase is in bloom. There are plants that give common but romantic five petal singles or ones with double layers.

First time gardeners should purchase the right gardening tools, accessories, and perhaps a book on the subject of “growing Hibiscus”.

When growing Hibiscus, choose a sunny spot. The plant is tolerant to many conditions, but thrives in sandy soil with some organic content and slight acidity. Planting materials can be obtained from a nursery.

The propagation is through cuttings, hybrid-grafting and, in the case of certain species, through germinated seeds. Germinated seeds might not have all the characteristics of the mother plant.

The plant has to be watered until it establishes. Moisture retention is important, and mulching helps this. Water the potted plants from the top and not at the base. Proper fertilizing is important, but remember that excessive nitrogen will promote vegetative growth and may not help the flowering. Pesticides, insecticides and fungicides may have to be used depending on the need. It is best to opt for organic products including fertilizers. Make sure that you follow the label instructions.

Hibiscus growing is highly relaxing and satisfying.

Before growing Hibiscus, a fair amount of planning is required. Do you want to grow them in your garden, use them for landscaping or hedging or keep them pots that can be kept indoors or out? What size and type of plant do you want?

Potted culturing has to be confined to the smaller varieties. For outdoors, the size is dependent on the use. Large types are ideal for landscaping. Those used as hedges can be medium in size. If you want the Hibiscus to blend with other plants in the garden, smaller ones are ideal. For bonsai, use old, compact plants with small leaves.

Check with nurseries or other growers in your area to ascertain which species is best suited for you. You cannot be sure of the color of the flowers unless a plant you purchase is in bloom. There are plants that give common but romantic five petal singles or ones with double layers.

First time gardeners should purchase the right gardening tools, accessories, and perhaps a book on the subject of “growing Hibiscus”.

When growing Hibiscus, choose a sunny spot. The plant is tolerant to many conditions, but thrives in sandy soil with some organic content and slight acidity. Planting materials can be obtained from a nursery.

The propagation is through cuttings, hybrid-grafting and, in the case of certain species, through germinated seeds. Germinated seeds might not have all the characteristics of the mother plant.

The plant has to be watered until it establishes. Moisture retention is important, and mulching helps this. Water the potted plants from the top and not at the base. Proper fertilizing is important, but remember that excessive nitrogen will promote vegetative growth and may not help the flowering. Pesticides, insecticides and fungicides may have to be used depending on the need. It is best to opt for organic products including fertilizers. Make sure that you follow the label instructions.

Hibiscus growing is highly relaxing and satisfying.


Watch the video: HOW TO PROPAGATE HIBISCUS FAST AND EASY


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