Hibiscus Care|Space Gardening

Hibiscus flowers are one of the most spectacular blossoms a container gardener can grow. The blooms are large, colorful and incredibly graceful. The foliage of the hibiscus plant is also beautiful – the dark green, glossy leaves, provide a wonderful contrast with the extravagant blooms.

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Caring for hibiscus is easy and can make any container garden feel luxurious and exotic. Here are some important information to care your hibiscus the best way:

  • Sun Requirements – While most plant tags will tell you that hibiscus takes full sun to partial sun, in reality, if you live somewhere hot and light, you should go more towards partial sun. In Northern climes, your hibiscus will probably be happier in full sun.
  • Drainage and Watering are Key – Hibiscus are thirsty plants and will only thrive and produce blossoms if they are given enough water. Depending on heat, wind and humidity, your plant may need to be watered daily – in extremely dry conditions – twice a day. These are tropical plants, so they don’t like to dry out. They also don’t like to be soaking wet, so you have to be careful not to drown your plants. Keep the soil moist, watering your plant slowly and deeply. If your hibiscus is dropping leaves, or you’re seeing yellowing leaves at the top of the hibiscus, chances are it’s not getting enough water. If your hibiscus has yellowing leaves in the middle or towards the bottom of the plant, chances are it’s suffocating from too much water.
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  • Pot Size – For consistent production of hibiscus flowers, you don’t want to transplant your hibiscus in too deep a container. If you do, your plant will be healthy, but will spend more energy producing roots than flowers and top growth, so you may see fewer flowers until the roots have hit the bottom of the pot. However, if you are doing a mixed container, you will want to put the hibiscus in a larger pot, so optimally, look for one that is wider than the nursery pot, but not much deeper.
  • Fertilizer – Chances are good that when you buy your hibiscus, it has a slow release fertilizer mixed into to the soil so you probably don’t have to worry about feeding your plant for the first few months you own it. After that feed it regularly. I use a diluted, liquid fish emulsion, seaweed combination every other week.
  • Overwintering Hibiscus – If you live in a northern climate, it is possible to overwinter hibiscus indoors, though it’s not easy. Your hibiscus will need at least 2-3 hours of direct sunlight. Try putting your hibiscus in an East, West or South facing window. Though your hibiscus will need less water in the winter, be aware that once you turn on your heat, your air will be dry, which can be hard on tropical plants, so you will need to water more often. If you see any buds remove them – you don’t want your hibiscus to flower in the winter. In the spring, cut the plant back and put it back outside, once the nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50°F.
  • Happy Hibiscus – If your plant is consistently producing hibiscus flowers, it is happy, so keep doing what you’re doing. If your plant is not producing buds and flowers, try moving it into an area that has either more or less sunlight.
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Care For Christmas Cactus|Space Gardening

Good Christmas cactus care will ensure beautiful blooms in time for the holidays.

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This tropical cactus does not exist in the wild. It is a hybrid of Schlumbergera truncata and Schlumbergera russelliana that grow as epiphytes in the rain forests of South America.

Schlumbergera bridgesii has dark-green flattened stems composed of segments joined in a scalloped pattern. Flowers appear at the tips of the stems and are available in shades of pink, red, purple, yellow, and white. Newer cultivars bring together two colors, offering some exciting new combinations.

After your Christmas Cactus is through flowering for the season, it needs about a one-month rest. Water sparingly and stop fertilizing until new growth begins in spring.

Regular pruning will encourage the plant to branch out where the stem was cut, creating a fuller plant. Spring is the best time to prune it back, when it begins actively growing again.

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How to Get Christmas Cactus to Bloom Again

Growing this plant is easy, but there are a few things you should do to make it bloom before the holidays.

  • Shorter, cooler days and nights for about 8-10 weeks are needed for the plant to set buds. Moving it outdoors in fall is ideal, just keep it out of direct sun. Bring the plant back inside before the first frost.
  • Keep soil barely moist, but not too dry. Shriveled, limp stems are a sign that it’s too dry.
  • Once it starts budding, keep the plant in the same location. Changes in light and temperature by moving it around will cause it to drop its buds and flowers. Also keep it away from drafty areas like doorways and heat vents.

Repotting Christmas cactus plant is usually only necessary every 2 to 3 years. It prefers to be slightly pot-bound and blooms best this way. Wait till spring or early summer to repot — never while it’s blooming.

Christmas Cactus Care Tips

Origin: Hybrid with parents native to Brazil

Height: To 2 ft (60 cm)

Light: Bright indirect light

Water: Keep the soil moist, but not soggy while plant is growing. After flowering, water sparingly until new growth begins in spring.

Humidity: Moderate — about 50-60% relative humidity. Stand the pot on a dish of wet pebbles.

Temperature: To set flower buds, the plant needs cool 60-65°F/16-18°C days and 45-55°F/7-13°C nights. Once buds set, 70-75°F/21-24°C days and 60-70°F/16-21°C nights.

Soil: Well-drained potting medium is essential. Mix 1 part potting mix and 1 part fine-grade fir bark.

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half. After blooms have dropped, stop fertilizing for a month.

Propagation: Take stem segments in spring and place upright in moist perlite.