Skip to main content

A complete guide to caring for the Hibiscus rosa-Sinensis, a striking red plant

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is native to Asia that, when grown in an outdoor environment with ideal conditions, can reach up to 15 feet tall. Indoors, they’re more likely to stay around four or five feet where they can be easily maintained and managed (so there’s no worry about them out-growing your space). They’re a fast-growing plant, able to grow about two feet per year, so it takes a lot of care and time to make sure it doesn’t get too unruly when in an indoor environment. If you have one in your home, here are the best ways to keep it happy and healthy.

Red hibiscus flower
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why you should grow a Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is a beautiful tropical shrub that grows flowers in orange, peach, pink, purple, red, white, and yellow. Growing one of these plants gives you a chance to experience not only their blooms but their aroma as well. The array of colors means there’s a variety for almost anyone to choose from, and you can get multiple kinds if you want to have a collection of different flowers for fresh arrangements.

Best of all, the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis isn’t all that difficult to care for. It may be particular about the environment, but as long as you adapt the care to fit the needs of the plant as it lives in your home, you’ll have no trouble keeping it alive.

What is the common name of the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis?

Colloquially, the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is known as:

  • China rose
  • Chinese hibiscus
  • Tropical hibiscus

When you see hibiscus plants marked in stores as any of the above names, regardless of bloom color, chances are you’re purchasing a Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.

How do you care for a rosa-sinensis Hibiscus?

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis can be grown year-round, depending on your climate. In USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11, the shrub makes a beautiful landscape plant that can live and thrive during any season and still return the following year. Ideally, they want bright light in northern areas and partial shade where it’s less humid and drier. But no matter where you live, you can create conditions that will allow the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis to thrive.

This plant prefers temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and can be killed by even just a few nights spent out below 50 degrees. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis should be promptly transitioned indoors when temperatures start to drop in the fall.

Light needs: Full sun in northern climates; partial shade in hot, dry climates
Water needs: Water regularly, sometimes daily or twice a day depending on dryness
Soil needs: Well-draining potting mix marked for tropical plants

Is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis hardy?

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is not a terribly hardy plant; it’s only able to thrive when planted outdoors in zones 9 through 11. This evergreen shrub is a tropical plant, and as such has humidity, water, and light requirements that make it a bit tricky to grow year-round unless you’re prepared with the right knowledge and conditions.

Outside of those zones, the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis should be grown as a potted plant and can be outdoors during the warmer weather; however, it will need to be transitioned indoors for the winter where care is maintained to carry it through to the next growing season. This can include but is not limited to, trimming off any buds that start to appear to help your Hibiscus conserve energy during the colder season.

Is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis perennial?

Technically, yes. If you’re growing the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis outdoors in the ground in a climate where winters don’t cause damage to plants, then it will come back the next year with no issue. Outside of that climate (think northern ones with harsher winters), the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is best grown as a potted plant that you can bring indoors to overwinter. With proper indoor winter care, you’ll be able to transition it back outdoors when the weather warms up and watch it bloom again.

Pink hibiscus flower
Adisorn Chaisan / Shutterstock

Can you propagate Hibiscus rosa-sinensis?

You can! Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is propagated via cuttings and can grow the same plant as the parent. For this plant, you’ll want to take the cuttings in late spring or early summer, just when active growth is starting to emerge. Soft stem cuttings are best for viable results.

To take cuttings from the tropical hibiscus, get a pair of gloves and a sterilized pair of shears (or something else that can make a clean cut), then follow these steps:

  1. Find a stem that has around four to six inches of soft green on it and remove each set of leaves except the top one.
  2. Cut the stem just below the bottom leaf node — staying in that four to six-inch range — and place the cut end of the stem into a pot filled with a mix of one part well-draining soil and one part perlite.
  3. Moisten the soil, then place a clear plastic bag over the cutting to help it retain heat and moisture while it grows new roots.
  4. Put the pot in a partially shady location, out of direct sun, until you see the cutting start to actively grow.

Caring for a Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is fairly easy, as far as tropical plants go — just be sure not to leave it outside of its comfortable temperature range and you won’t run into many issues. If you love the plant enough or want to share its beauty with family and friends, you can take cuttings, watch them start to grow, and give them as gifts for any occasion.

Editors' Recommendations

Kiera Baron
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kiera Baron is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a budding digital artist, based in Upstate NY. She is currently one…
Can you grow plants in water beads? Here’s what you need to know
Find out what common houseplants you can grow this way
A tulip in a vase with water beads

Keeping your plants healthy includes keeping them hydrated, but what is the best way to do that? There’s traditional watering, automated watering systems for when you’re out of town, and even water globes. One option you may have heard about is growing plants in water beads. Is this really an effective way to keep your plants hydrated, though, or are the potential risks more troublesome than they’re worth? This guide to gardening with water beads will answer all your questions.

What are water beads?
Water beads are gel spheres that come in a variety of sizes and colors. They absorb water and slowly release it over time, which is why some gardeners use them to keep their plants watered. Water beads can be made from a variety of materials, including both naturally occurring and manufactured substances.

Read more
5 easy indoor plants anyone can grow
Simple indoor plants for anyone, especially beginner gardeners
Top down view of several potted plants together in a box

Gardening and caring for houseplants is a hobby stretching back thousands of years, and most people want to give it a try at some point in their lives. If you have a green thumb or experience, then you can grow practically any plant your heart desires, but what if you’re just starting out or have tried and failed to keep plants alive in the past? Not to worry.

These five plants aren’t just beautiful, but they’re also easy to grow. Any beginner can care for these easy indoor plants, so start with this list and work your way up to more difficult plants.

Read more
These incredible indoor succulents are our favorites
Great indoor succulents to add to your collection
An assortment of succulents in pots

Succulents are popular houseplants, thanks to their easy care requirements and the wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors they grow in. When it comes to picking the best indoor succulents for your home, the amount of options can be overwhelming. If you’re looking for a good place to start, this is the list for you.

These five succulents are perfect indoor houseplants, great for beginners, and beautiful to look at. No matter what type of succulent appeals to you or what your home is like, one of these indoor succulents will be a great fit for you and your home.

Read more