How to care for hibiscus plants in the winter

Hibiscus thrives in warm weather, producing large, colourful blossoms from mid- to late-summer. There are both tender and hardy varieties of the plant. Hardy hibiscus is killed to the ground each winter, then it regrows from its dormant roots come spring. While hardy hibiscus requires only minimal winter care, tender or tropical hibiscus cannot tolerate any frost. In areas that experience freezing temperatures during the winter months, proper care is necessary–otherwise the hibiscus will not survive until spring.

Dig around the hibiscus plant before the first frost of fall. Dig down 8 to 10 inches, then slide the trowel under the roots and lift the plant from the ground.

Fill an appropriate-sized pot with 2 to 4 inches of soil. Set the hibiscus into the pot and fill in around the roots with additional soil until the hibiscus is planted at the same depth in the pot that it was at in the garden bed.

Set the hibiscus in an area indoors that isn't in bright sunlight. Allow the soil to dry out and the leaves to fall off, forcing the plant into dormancy.

Move the hibiscus to a 40 to 45 degree Fahrenheit room. Choose a dark or dimly lit area, as the dormant hibiscus does not require light.

Check the soil moisture every two weeks during storage. Water when the soil begins to dry at a 3-inch depth. Do not moisten the soil thoroughly, add just enough water so the soil is moist, but not enough for the water to drain from the pot's drainage holes.

Begin watering regularly again in spring four to six weeks before the last expected frost. Gradually move the plant into sunlight once new growth appears. Place the hibiscus back outside once all frost danger has past.


Prune hibiscus back up to half their height if they are too large to easily pot; bring indoors. In areas that rarely experience freezing, apply a 4-inch layer of mulch over the hibiscus root zones to protect them from any short periods of frost that may occur.

Things You'll Need

  • Trowel
  • Pot
  • Potting soil
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.