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Overwintering Hibiscus – 5 Simple Steps for Success

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Do you have a favorite tropical hibiscus plant that you’ve enjoyed all summer and you want to keep your plant successfully through the winter? They’re just too beautiful to let die! This article is all about overwintering hibiscus.

From bringing your plant back inside before the cold weather, to reintroducing it outdoors back in the Spring (and everything in between), keep reading to discover my 5 step plan for success.


The two main options that you have in overwintering hibiscus are the following:

  • Allowing your plant to go dormant and then reviving it in the spring
  • Keeping your plant in active growth

From personal experience, I will say that I strongly recommend the second option. If you let your plant go dormant completely, it will take far too long to bring it back to life and bloom.

One year, when I tried that, my hibiscus didn’t bloom again until August, so it missed much of the summer. I’ll focus this article on the second method, which I strongly recommended.



Here is a 5 step process to prepare your tropical hibiscus for overwintering indoors.


A well grown hibiscus plant can grow quite larger over a single summer, and pruning your plant back will have many benefits:

  • Allows your plant to fit indoors more easily.
  • Creates a bushier plant.
  • You’ll stimulate more flowering. Hibiscus grow flower buds right at the tip of each branch. By pruning your plant, you’ll stimulate more branching, and this will result in a lot more flowers on your plant.

For hibiscus growing in pots outdoors that you’ll overwinter indoors, pruning will be the first step of the process. Do this before the minimum temperatures outdoors get consistently below 50°F (10°C).

Use a pair of clean, sterilized pruners and prune about 1/3 of your plant back and up to about 50% or so. Do this on each branch.



After you’ve pruned, you’ll need to prepare your hibiscus so you’re not bringing in any pests into your home.

First, rinse your hibiscus plants off with water to knock off any pests (particularly spider mites!). You can use a hose with a shower attachment. Rinse off the entire plant, and try and get the undersides of the foliage as well.

Do this a couple times per week for a couple weeks before you bring your plants indoors to overwinter them.

If you do notice any of the characteristic spider mite webbing, keep spraying with water as best as you can.

Lastly, apply horticultural oil to the entire plant, allow it to dry, and then move your plant inside.

Be sure to cover all leaf surfaces including the undersides of the leaves, stems, etc.



Typically, for other plants indoors, I will stop fertilizing during the winter months if the plant isn’t actively growing.

For hibiscus, it is important to not let them slow down too much, otherwise it will delay blooming the following year.

An amazing fertilizer to use for hibiscus is the Hidden Valley Hibiscus special blend fertilizer. It’s heavy on potassium, which hibiscus love. You will notice a big difference in the vigor and blooming of your plants with this fertilizer.

You can use this fertilizer year round. Use as directed on the label for best results.

In the winter time, fertilize less frequently than you would during the summer outdoors, but you should still fertilize.



Situate your hibiscus immediately in front of the sunniest window that you have.

Keep in mind that any location that you have indoors (including your sunniest window) will not be providing nearly as much light as a location in full sun outside.

The intensity of light indoors, just by virtue of light going through our windows (and only coming from one direction), is much less than outdoors, so for sun-loving plants like hibiscus, it will be best to place it in the sunniest window you have.

Don’t be surprised if you get some yellowing of leaves after you move your plants indoors. This is perfectly normal and it’s simply your plant shedding some leaves as it adjusts to lower light levels indoors.


Never allow the potting mix to go completely dry. Let the top inch or two of the potting mix dry out, and then water thoroughly.


When temperatures are warming up again in the Spring, don’t be tempted to simply move your hibiscus out into full sun immediately or all your hard work will go to waste.

As I mentioned, the light intensity indoors is much less than it is outside, so you must allow your hibiscus plant to acclimate slowly when you place it back outside otherwise it will quickly scorch. How can you do this?

When you move your hibiscus from indoors to outdoors when minimum temperatures are consistently 50°F (10°C) at night, move your plant into FULL SHADE at first and leave it there for about 7-10 days.

Then, and only then, start to introduce some direct sun a little at a time (starting with morning sun only since it is gentler). Increase any direct sun a little each day over the period of another week or so.

Just keep an eye on your plant to make sure there is no sun scorch. You can’t acclimate too slowly, but you can acclimate too quickly. If you noticed any whitish, bleached out areas on the top of your leaves, you haven’t acclimated your plant slowly enough to direct sun.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on overwintering hibiscus. Have you overwintered hibiscus before? What has your experience been? Comment below. I’d love to hear!


Thursday 24th of August 2023

I live in Maine. I bought 2 hibiscus (with three plants in each pot) a few months ago with the intention of planting them in the yard. However, I tore my rotator cuff and haven't been able to do it. I've only been watering it and pruning off dead leaves and the flowers once they've bloomed out. They've been blooming like crazy, I've been very pleased with the results so far. I'm going to take your advice on the overwintering. My question, though, is can I plant them outside next year? Or will I have to keep bringing them inside every year? You should know that I have never been very successful with gardening and, by no means, have anything resembling a green thumb.


Saturday 26th of August 2023

I'm assuming you have tropical hibiscus. You could plant them in the ground and treat them like annuals if you'd like. But they would probably do better in a pot. There are also a couple other types of hibiscus that are perennials and would probably come back in your climate depending on what growing zone you are in Maine. Here is a recent blog post that I wrote that talks about 3 types of hibiscus (two which are hardy and 1 which is not):


Monday 7th of August 2023

Thank you so much for this article! Hibiscus are my favorite flower, I want to save them over the winter months. I will definitely use this method! Thanks Again, Sandy South GA


Monday 7th of August 2023

Glad you enjoyed it Sabdy!

Marlyn Lindstead

Sunday 30th of July 2023

I have.but that was five years ago in Ontario. I am now in Vancouver Island. My son said I should cut them back to five inches from the ground I dont thinks that's right. They are moscheutos. I always cut them back in the spring but I was not too sure how far back I should cut them. Thankyou Marlyn


Tuesday 1st of August 2023

Assuming you have the hardy hibiscus, those canes usually die back all the way to the roots, and then sprout back up from the root system in the Spring (usually pretty late). At least that's what they do in my climate. I usually prune my plant all the way to the ground in the spring. Do yours die all the way back in your climate?

Diane Stella

Monday 10th of July 2023

I am new to the hibiscus plant. I bought one from the discounted rack at a nursery and repotted and babied it last summer. Overwintered it in the house, put it out on the deck in the spring, and now it is blooming gloriously. It is as tall as me. I’m worried that I won’t be able to handle the weight of the plant if I repot it does it have to be repotted? How do I tell for sure, if it’s a tropical or hearty hibiscus? Color of the bloom is: golden orange. I live in South Carolina near Charlotte. Can I plant it in the ground or is it too cold in the winter?


Monday 10th of July 2023

Hi Diane! I would be able to tell with a photo, but it sounds like it is probably a tropical one based on the flower color. I don't know of any hardy hibiscus flowers that are orange. Your area would be too cold in the winter to plant a tropical hibiscus in the ground. Eventually, it would need to be repotted as they can get very rootbound. Hope this helps a bit!

Pat S

Saturday 20th of May 2023

When we brought our hibiscus in to overwinter last fall it defoliated completely. It has continued to bloom all winter but the leaves bud out but die. This is a 20 year old plant which has been repotted, although it was quite a while ago. Can I save it by repotting? Should I use a special mix of fertilizer to stimulate leaf growth instead of blooms?


Saturday 20th of May 2023

It sounds like it probably needs to be pruned, and probably repotted too. Have you ever pruned it? It would take a while to get blooms though if you prune it, but it probably won't be full with leaves unless you prune it.