Those bright and tropical-looking blooms that hibiscus is famous for require a hefty dose of nutrients, which is why a fertilizer for hybiscus is important if you want your flowers to look their best.
Although hibiscus isn’t too fussy, using the wrong fertilizer, or even over-fertilizing with the right fertilizer, can spell disaster for the plant, so you need to try to get things right from the start. Here’s how…
What Should You Look for in a Fertilizer for Hybiscus?
Every plant has its own nutrient requirements, but the three main ones are nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K).
Although hibiscus doesn’t need much phosphorous, it requires high amounts of nitrogen and potassium, meaning that any fertilizer you use should cater to this. Of course, buying specific fertilizers for each of your plants can end up quite costly, but hibiscus responds really well to all-purpose formulas too.
Hibiscus also needs a wide range of micronutrients, which the soil alone can often fail to provide. Many chemical fertilizers lack these nutrients too, which is why gardeners in-the-know will always opt for a liquid seaweed fertilizer when they want their hibiscus plants to truly flourish.
Using a Liquid Seaweed Fertilizer for Hybiscus
Liquid seaweed fertilizers are known for being great all-rounders, and can work wonders with hibiscus.
Did you know that seaweed contains 10 times the number of minerals than plants grown on land?
Imagine what all of those micronutrients could do for your hibiscus, as well as the soil around it…
If you pick the right product, you won’t need to worry about over-fertilization either, as there won’t be any excessive build-up of minerals. Liquid seaweed is water-soluble and contains the perfect level of nutrients for hibiscus plants.
The Best Liquid Seaweed Fertilizer for Hybiscus
A quick Google search will show you that there are numerous seaweed fertilizers out there, but a surprising number of them are non-organic. You’ll be using this product in both the soil as well as on the leaves of your hibiscus, so pick a trustworthy brand.
One company known for their dedication to producing organic gardening products is Eco Home & Garden Solutions. Their Liquid Seaweed Fertilizer is fully natural and organic. It comes from a mix of oceanic kelp and other types of seaweed, meaning an incredible mixture of nutrients, and it’s all sustainably harvested and completely renewable.
You can use this formula on all types of plants, from fruits and vegetables to flowers, including hibiscus. Seaweed is also rapidly being recognized as a great alternative to chemical pesticides, making it worth using throughout your garden. Click here if you would like to give this powerful kelp and seaweed blend a try.
When to Fertilize Hybiscus
A liquid seaweed fertilizer for hybiscus should be applied every one to two weeks for best results. However, it’s understandable that life gets in the way, so if you’re only able to fertilize your plants a few times a year, these are the four key stages at which your hibiscus would really benefit from a feed:
- In the early spring
- After the first flowers have died back
- At the very beginning of winter
Generally, more feed is needed during the spring and summer, since this is when your hibiscus will be most actively growing. You can then cut this back in the fall, with your last feed applied at the beginning of winter.
If you’re growing your hibiscus in a container, then you will likely need to fertilize more often than if you were growing it in the ground. Being a heavy drinker, a pot-grown hibiscus will also need extra water, so give it a diluted feed of liquid seaweed each time you water your container plants. As mentioned, you don’t need to worry about over-fertilizing if you’re using seaweed, especially if you’re diluting the formula down even more.
The best time of day to fertilize your hibiscus would be in the early morning or early evening. You want temperatures to be cool and wind speeds to be low - this will ensure that all of those nutrients reach the roots of your hibiscus as quickly as possible.
How to Fertilize Hybiscus
Fertilizer application methods vary depending on the product you’ve picked. If you’ve opted for a seaweed fertilizer, this will need to be diluted in water and then applied to the soil around your plants.
If you only have a few plants to feed, a watering can is often the easiest way to do this.
However, if you would prefer to use a hose, it would be worth investing in a fertilizer injector. This is a hose attachment that you pour the concentrated fertilizer into. Small amounts of fertilizer are then released with the water being expelled from your hose. Since all plants, including your lawn, would benefit from a dose of seaweed, this is a good option for those who have larger areas to cover.
Special fertilizer injectors can also be found for drip irrigation systems, making it easy to incorporate a liquid seaweed fertilizer into just about every watering system.
One thing to remember when using a fertilizer for hybiscus is that you should be applying the solution right up to the edges of your plant’s canopy. Don’t focus your attention solely on the soil directly around the main trunk, as the plant’s full root system will extend quite a way out from here.
Do You Need to Use a Foliar Spray Fertilizer for Hybiscus?
Foliar sprays are applied directly to a plant’s leaves and stems, rather than to the soil. This is because there are certain essential elements that plants absorb better through their leaves - this method can actually deliver micronutrients to a plant faster than if you were to fertilize the soil.
Not all plants benefit from a foliar spray, but hibiscus is one that most definitely does.
One of the most popular foliar fertilizers is kelp or seaweed. Being completely natural, this won’t harm your hibiscus in any way, even if you apply it with a heavy hand. Plus, in addition to providing your hibiscus plants with vital trace elements, seaweed also strengthens plants in a way that makes them less susceptible to pests and diseases.
If you already use a liquid seaweed fertilizer in your garden, simply dilute this down a little more than you usually would, and then spray your hibiscus leaves a few times a year. Don’t forget to also spray the undersides of the leaves too!
Ideally, do this early in the morning, while the air is still cool. This will ensure that the leaves are able to absorb the formula before the sun evaporates it away.
Does Your Hibiscus Need Extra Potassium?
When it comes to potassium, hibiscus is a heavy feeder. Potassium is involved in just about every stage of plant growth, so supplementing your hibiscus plants with extra potassium can really make a difference.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you need to buy yet another fertilizer product. Instead, look into some of the ways in which you can make a homemade potassium fertilizer for hybiscus.
Banana peels are known for being packed with potassium. Try soaking a few peels in water for a week or two, allowing them to ferment. You can then use this water as an additional fertilizer.
Wood ash is also rich in potassium. This can simply be sprinkled into your compost. Another alternative would be coffee grounds, which can be mixed into your soil. This will also help to slightly raise acidity, which is something that hibiscus enjoys.
Mulching Your Hibiscus
Another way to provide a slow-releasing source of nutrients to your hibiscus plants is with a mulch. A mulch serves a number of different purposes, including:
- Provides nutrients to plants as the mulch decomposes
- Regulates soil temperature to keep your plants warm in the winter and cool in the summer
- Retains moisture in the soil, which is key if you want your hibiscus to flourish. This also means that you won’t need to water your hibiscus quite as much
- Suppresses weeds, meaning that your hibiscus won’t need to compete for water, nutrients, and light
- Improves the quality of your soil over time
In a way, hibiscus mulches itself. It continuously drops leaves and flowers throughout the year, and these settle around the base of the plant and act as a mulch.
However, in order to experience all of the benefits listed above, you will need to apply an additional mulch too. Some good mulch materials are:
- Grass clippings
- Wood shavings
- Tree leaves
You will notice that there are also many synthetic mulches out there, from simple fabric coverings to shredded rubber. While these may be effective at suppressing weeds, they won’t feed your plant, making a natural mulch a much better option.
Simply spread your mulch of choice around your hibiscus plants, keeping the mulch a few inches thick. Make sure that the mulch isn’t directly touching the stems of your hibiscus - this will prevent your plant from breathing, which could lead to rot.
The best times to apply a mulch is in the early winter and early spring, as this prepares the plant for the upcoming seasonal changes. In the summer and fall, give your mulch a quick mix through to aerate it, which will prevent mildew or fungus from forming within it.
Hibiscus is generally quite an easy to look after, low-maintenance plant - you could potentially get away with not fertilizing your hibiscus at all. However, if an abundance of bright, showy blooms is what you’re after, along with a plant that only seems to do better year after year, then a good quality fertilizer for hybiscus is exactly what you need.