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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - April 15, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care for non-native tropical hibiscus in Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How to care for a tropical hibiscus plant? How much water, sun, fertilizer? I am novice gardener in Houston, TX. From much reading, April seems to be the month I cut all blooms and let the plant lie dormant. Please help, I am confused.

ANSWER:

Since you are a novice gardener, we invite you to read our How-To Article A Guide to Native Plant Gardening. Tthe Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants are being grown, so the Tropical Hibiscus would fall out of our range of expertise. 

There are 13 members of the Hibiscus genus native to North America, 11 native to Texas and two, Hibiscus lasiocarpos (rosemallow) and Hibiscus laevis (halberdleaf rosemallow) native to the Harris County area. Those, however, are not what you could ordinarily refer to as "tropical" hibiscus. You likely have a hybrid of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, probable origin tropical Asia, much cultivated and hybridized.  You can follow the plant links above to the pages in our Native Plant Database on the Hibiscus native to Harris County, and may learn the answers to some of your questions. We would also refer you to these websites that are NOT confined to natives and have a great deal of information:

Gardening-guides.com Hibiscus: Tropical and Temperate

The Tropical Hibiscus - A Brief History

The American Hibiscus Society

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Hibiscus lasiocarpos

Hibiscus lasiocarpos

Hibiscus laevis

Hibiscus laevis

 

 

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