“Saving Hibiscus”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana
We may have our first hard freeze here on the Gulf Coast tomorrow. As I was protecting my tender plants this afternoon and looking at the hibiscus flowers, I was feeling a little sorry to see so many lovely summer plants doing so well, but knowing their days are numbered. I will really miss the coleus. It did so well this year and was a great replacement for the flowering annuals that require so much water in our hot summers.
I have a feeling this will be the last of the hibiscus flowers until next spring.
Most of my hibiscus plants are over seven to fifteen years old. Every winter, I protect them because it is often hard to find the double ones in the spring. Years ago, they were everywhere, but now I rarely see them in the nurseries. I can seem to find only the singles, and while they are pretty, the doubles have stolen my gardening heart.
To overwinter the hibiscus, I will cut them back and cover them with plastic sheeting. This is usually enough for the freezes we have because the below 32 degree temperatures rarely last more than four hours, and then we warm up enough to uncover the tender plants. If we have a really hard freeze of six or more hours, then I carefully put a light bulb under the plastic. This is enough to keep them from freezing. (I don’t know what I will do when incandescent bulbs are no longer available.) On the very rare occasions, every ten years or so, that we will not be above freezing for a few days, they will come into the garage. While the hibiscus plants will lose most of their leaves in the winter, come spring they bounce back fairly quickly.
Over the years, I have lost a few hibiscus plants even with these precautions, but if I get low on one color, I will root cuttings to ensure I always have my doubles. I know this is sometimes a lot of trouble for an inexpensive plant, but after all these years, they are irreplaceable to me.