Transplanting Hibiscus

Transplanting hibiscus is one of the biggest challenges you'll face in caring for this lovely plant. While hibiscus are great at fighting off pests and don't need much other than fertilizer and water, they simply loathe transplanting. Even the hardiest plants can die. For that reason, hibiscus should be transplanted as infrequently as possible.

Digging Up and Transplanting an Existing Plant
Dig a hole around the base of the hibiscus that is about three inches wider than the widest branches. Dig deep enough down to get a good chunk of the root ball; at least 12 inches, preferably more. Dig a new planting hole twice the width of the root ball and as deep as the root ball. Center the hibiscus in the new planting hole. Add water to the planting hole, than backfill with soil. Mulch with at least three inches of compost or pulverized bark and water well.

Do not shake the soil out of the roots when you transplant. Keep as much of it in the root ball as you possibly can, and consider backfilling with soil from the original site. If the hibiscus is kept in a pot, it's best to transfer all of the soil from the pot into the new pot.

Bare Root Hibiscus
Dig a planting hole as wide as the spread-out roots. Soak the bare root hibiscus roots in a bucket of water for eight hours to ensure proper hydration. Scar the sides of the planting hole with a pitchfork. Center the hibiscus in the planting hole. Fill the planting hole with water, then backfill with soil. Mulch with three inches of compost or pulverized bark and water well.

Potted Hibiscus
Dig a planting hole twice the width of the root ball and as deep as the root ball. Center the hibiscus in the planting hole, then fill with water. Backfill with soil. Mulch the hibiscus with at least three inches of compost or pulverized bark and water well.

Bagged and Burlaped Hibiscus
If the burlap is synthetic, remove it. If the burlap is organic, you can leave the burlap on the root ball, but be sure to remove any ties or staples holding the burlap in place. Dig a planting hole twice the size of the root ball and as deep as the root ball. Center the hibiscus in the planting hole. Fill the planting hole with water, then backfill with soil. Water well and mulch with three inches of compost or pulverized bark.

When to Transplant
Hibiscus should only be transplanted when there is no danger of frost. It's best to transplant them to the garden in the late spring, well after the last frost has passed.

Hibiscus kept indoors should be transplanted when their roots start to press against the sides of the pot. You want to do this as infrequently as possible, so the new pot should be able to hold the plant for at least a year, and preferably two or three years.

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