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How Do I Grow Hibiscus Cuttings?

By Cindy Quarters
Updated May 16, 2024
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Hibiscus is a flowering plant with attractive foliage and large, showy flowers. There are many different types of hibiscus plants, including the Chinese hibiscus, a perennial evergreen bush that can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) tall, and the annual hibiscus flower that reaches no more than 2 feet tall (about 0.6 meters). These beautiful flowers are normally propagated with cuttings instead of by seeds. This entails taking healthy cuttings from the plant, placing them in a sterile rooting medium, and keeping them well-watered until they develop roots.

One essential part of growing hibiscus cuttings is to use only high-quality cuttings. The plant must be healthy with no signs of disease or stress. It is best to check for signs of pests, water stress or nutrient deficiency when choosing a plant to use as a cutting source. Yellowed leaves, brown spots, or a wilted appearance are all indicators of problems and suggest that plant should not be used as a source of cuttings.

Timing is important when collecting cuttings. Branches cut early in the morning have more water in them, and tend to have a higher survival rate than those cut later in the day. Hibiscus cuttings should be about 6 inches (15 cm) long and cut at about a 45 degree angle with very sharp pruning shears to avoid crushing the stems. It is also important to keep the cuttings cool and damp until they are placed in the rooting medium.

When rooting hibiscus cuttings, first trim the leaves from the bottom third of the branch and remove any flowers or buds. These steps help the cutting to put its energy into growing roots. The branch will grow roots more easily if it is treated with a liquid designed to promote root growth in cuttings, although this step is not absolutely essential. Once the branch is ready, it can be planted in a pot or tray along with other cuttings.

Hibiscus cuttings will grow best when planted in sterile potting soil mixed with vermiculite or sand. The cuttings must be kept wet but must also be able to drain well, so drainage holes on the bottom of the container are important. Once the hibiscus cuttings are planted, they should be covered with clear plastic, though the plastic must not touch the plants. The plastic will let light pass through it but will keep the humidity level high, which is the best environment for rooting cuttings. After they have developed an adequate root system, the hibiscus plants can be transplanted into soil or individual containers.

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Discussion Comments
By anon992825 — On Oct 06, 2015

I live in the warm Caribbean where there are only two seasons -- rainy and sunny -- and I find it really easy to propagate hibiscus cuttings outdoors by immersing the cuttings halfway into a pail or container of water for a couple of weeks until rough white bumps of the roots appear, then plant and care with a fertilizer every two weeks. PS. Keep the water level after evaporation.

By DylanB — On Aug 11, 2012

@shell4life – It sounds like you have the perfect environment for rooting plant cuttings! I have plenty of heat here in the summer, but I don't have a lot of moisture.

Most of the time, around the middle of summer, my hibiscus plants start to either look a bit wilted or develop a few yellow leaves. In the extreme heat of July and August, there is really nothing that I can do to keep them happy.

So, I am going to try to propagate a few in early June. That way, I can catch them while they are still in good shape.

By giddion — On Aug 10, 2012

I never knew how to properly propagate hibiscus plants. I just assumed that since they produced so many large seed pods, I should just plant the seed.

A couple of years ago, I planted about twenty hibiscus seeds in some potting soil. I kept the soil in a warm room where they could get sunlight, and I kept the soil moist. Before long, little green shoots sprang up, and I took really good care of them.

I didn't realize until several weeks later that the shoots were not even hibiscus plants. They were little blades of grass! I had been carefully maintaining little grass shoots for weeks!

It's good to know that hibiscus plants need to be grown from cuttings. I really thought that I had done something wrong, but my only mistake was to use the seed instead of a branch.

By Kristee — On Aug 10, 2012

This article is very helpful. I tried last year to grow a couple of new hibiscus bushes from cuttings without success, but I missed the important step of using a rooting hormone on the plant cuttings.

I will try again this year with this new information in mind. I am looking forward to actually growing the new hibiscus this time!

By shell4life — On Aug 09, 2012

I live in a warm, humid climate, and I propagate hibiscus cuttings outdoors without plastic sheets. The air is damp enough that I don't need to cover the cuttings to keep them moist.

We get a shower just about every afternoon, and the cuttings love this. I believe that the rain helps them grow even more than when I water them out of a sprinkler can.

My friend lives further north in the same state, but she experiences drought in the summertime often. She has had a lot of trouble getting hibiscus cuttings to grow, even though she does cover them up and tries to keep them damp.

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