Should I transplant my potted hibiscus or bring it inside for the winter?


I just bought a Proven Winners Summerific Perfect Storm hibiscus. It is potted and has been outside all summer. Should I plant it outside now, or should I keep it inside? If outside, how late can I transplant it, and do I water it in? If inside, what do I do to keep it growing?


Jonathan Foster, Special Projects Assistant

At this point, I would not try to plant the hibiscus out and would instead plan to overwinter it indoors. The leaves look to be turning color and dropping, which indicates the plant has begun to enter dormancy–I worry if you plant it out now and water it, you may stimulate new growth which wouldn’t survive the first frost and would waste valuable resources the plant has stored up. Generally when overwintering hibiscus, you can either treat it as a houseplant (keeping it warm, moist, and well lit) or let it continue into dormancy (slightly cooler, darker, only enough water periodically to keep the soil from going bone dry). If indeed it’s already entering dormancy, I would encourage you to go that route. In the spring, you can do what’s known as “hardening off”–that is, starting to take the plant outside for a few hours each day for a week or two to get it used to the less protected environment–then plant it in its permanent location once all threat of frost has passed.

A light treatment with neem oil before you take it indoors for the winter can help reduce the chances of bringing pests back into the house (see the UMD resource below).

Chicago Botanical Garden page on overwintering hibiscus

UMD Extension page on overwintering tropicals indoors (including hibiscus)