Hibiscus is one of the great garden plants that anyone can have in their own garden.
When you master how to clone them, you’ll be able to replicate some of the best garden plants you’ll set your eyes on.
Some of the most flamboyant hibiscuses are found in your friend’s garden, not the garden center.
If you like what you see, you don’t need to need to ask where they bought it, how they grew it, or what fertilizer they used.
Just ask for some cuttings and you can clone the exact same plant.
Flowers and all. For free!
How to Grow Hibiscus Plant from Cutting
To grow a hibiscus plant from cutting, you only need a few mature branches that are at least 6 inches in length. The bottom of the branch needs to be cut at a 45-degree angle to increase water absorption. Place the cutting in a pot (or glass) of water or soil, then leave it in a location that’s bright and receives indirect sunlight. Use a 15cm pot for propagation, then once roots develop, pot up rooted hibiscus cuttings individually in 10cm pots with a potting mix that’s 4 parts soil, 1 part peat moss. Once your plants reach one to two feet in height, they’ll be ready for transplanting in the garden.
The How to on Hibiscus Propagation
Taking and Preparing Your Cuttings
To grow hibiscus from cuttings, you need to start with a mature branch. The ideal size should be no less than six inches in length with a diameter of at least one inch.
If you use straggly branches, you’ll get a straggly plant. Use strong mature hardwood. Not the softwood on new growth.
Hardwood is found at the base of branches. The ends of the branches are softwood.
The longer the wood has been on the plant, the stronger it will be. You want the older wood that’s had time to mature.
The bottom of the branch where you want roots to emerge needs prepped by stripping the bark off it.
Do this with either a sharp knife or use the blade on a pair of scissors to scratch the bark away from the bottom one inch of the branch.
The lowest portion of the branch is what will be dipped in water (or planted in soil) later.
This should be cut at a 45-degree angle as that increases the amount of water the branch can absorb.
All the leaves apart from a few smaller leaves at the branch tip should be removed with pruners. This helps to increase oxygenation and helps the plant focus on root development instead of foliage growth.
When removing leaves, don’t rip them off as that can damage the branch. Use pruners to snip them off cleanly.
What you should be left with is a mature woody branch with at least five inches of mature wood, a few small leaves at the top, and the lower one inch having the wood stripped back to show the green beneath the wood.
The method is the same for propagating tropical plants or perennial hibiscus. Stem propagation is the most reliable for both types of hibiscus.
Pot Up Your Cuttings in Water or Rooting Soil
Roots develop fastest when left in water. If you do use water, drop all your cuttings into a glass of warm water and leave it for up to five days in indirect sunlight.
The water needs to cover the bottom one inch of the branch where you scraped away the bark. That’s where the roots will emerge.
After five days, replace it with clean water and leave it for another five days. The roots will have developed enough within two weeks to be transplanted in soil.
You can plant your cuttings in soil too.
Soil propagation is slower but the roots will be suited to transplanting sooner.
If you plan to propagate a hibiscus to plant up a garden shrub, start with soil so that it lessens the risk of transplant shock.
The less stressful transplanting is on the plant, the less chance there is of having to deal with hibiscus leaves turning yellow. That happens because of stress and some of the leaves will drop as a result.
Save that hassle by starting your cuttings off in soil. Good rooting soil has a mixture of perlite, river sand, vermiculite, or peat moss.
Strong roots develop when you plant your cuttings in rooting soil then transplant them to potting soil.
To pot your cuttings up, use a small plastic pot with drainage holes. A 15cm container can be used for as many as 30 cuttings.
For each cutting, use your finger or a pencil to make a hole deeper than one inch.
The bottom one inch of the branch needs to be in the soil. Once all your cuttings are potted up, place the container somewhere bright that receives indirect light.
To speed the process along, a clear plastic bag can be put over the container. This increases the heat and moisture retention under the canopy.
Using a rooting soil and clear plastic bag or liner to create a mini-greenhouse effect should see your cuttings develop roots in around four weeks.
After that, they’ll be strong enough to pot up in potting soil.
Transplanting Rooted Hibiscus into Pots
Each rooted cutting will need its own pot, and those should be at least 10 inches (10 cm).
Good potting soil for hibiscus is 4 parts soil to 1 part peat moss. Fill the pot with the soil leaving about one inch of space at the top.
Make a hole through the center of the soil and lower the cutting into it until the bottom-most leaf is sitting just above the soil line, but not directly on it.
Backfill the hole with the surrounding potting mix, then water it well.
Give each cutting a couple of weeks of indirect sunlight all day, then move them into direct sunlight and you’ll soon see new growth sprout.
Once potted hibiscus reaches one to two feet in height, they’ll be ready to transplant outdoors, or you can keep them in containers. You may need to re-pot them in larger containers after a few months though.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hibiscus Propagation
Do you need a rooting hormone powder to grow hibiscus from cuttings?
No. Rooting hormone powders merely speed up the process. They’re essential on difficult to propagate plants. Hibiscus isn’t one of those. It’s easy to root plant so you don’t need to give it any special treatment. Just care.
When is the best time to grow hibiscus from cuttings?
Early Spring for tropical varieties and late fall for hardy hibiscus. Whenever your hibiscus usually needs to be pruned is a good time to use the cuttings for propagation.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.