Gardeners adore the hibiscus plant for its vibrant colors, and flower heads the size of a dinner plate.
They’re terrific shrubs for the garden, or for potting up to brighten patios.
With 200+ varieties available, some hardy, others tropical, and even more that are hybrids, there’s plenty to choose from.
The tricky part is figuring out where to buy your hibiscus.
Most will be available at local nurseries, but if you’ve decided on a type that isn’t available locally, it might because you don’t have the conditions for it to grow.
Tropical hibiscus plants are only available from early spring. Later in the season, most nurseries will only stock hardy hibiscus.
Where to Buy Hibiscus Plants
Hibiscus are widely available but the quality differs between suppliers. Big box stores will have cheaper prices, but less experienced staff to care for the plants. Hardy hibiscus varieties require less upkeep so you’re more likely to find cheaper priced hibiscus perennials at chain retailers. Garden centers, mail-order nurseries, and local nurseries will have better quality plants, a wider variety of tropical and hybrid hibiscus plants, and knowledgeable staff able to assist with plant care advice.
3 Places to Buy Hibiscus Plants
Mail Order Nurseries
This category includes nurseries with online stores. Some are mail order only, others are garden centers that accept orders online and/or over the phone.
There are pros and cons to mail order only.
The upside is you get quality plants grown by knowledgeable gardeners at an affordable price.
The downside is the higher shipping costs.
A mail-order nursery might only ship plants. Not all will be able to supply fertilizers, containers, gardening tools, soil, and bags of mulching material.
For all you know, what looks like a mail-order nursery could be a backyard gardener growing hibiscus plants from cuttings, potting it up at the time of order, and shipping it in a one-gallon pot within 8-weeks of you placing the order.
Due diligence is needed with any mail order service. In particular, those that aren’t local to you because you can’t stop by to see their growing conditions
These are usually good for buying quality plants only.
What you may miss out on with some nurseries are the savings from shipping all your gardening supplies in one shipment.
As hibiscus are seasonal, they’ll only be available early in the season.
Nurseries located in the North where climates are colder will only have hardy varieties available later in the season.
Overwintering tropical plants will be too expensive for them.
Southern-based nurseries are in a better position to overwinter tropical hibiscus.
Local nurseries are your best bet for buying hibiscus plants you know you can grow in your garden.
These plants will be grown in the same climate you’ll be transplanting your hibiscus in.
Being local, they’ll also know about the most problematic pests in your area. They deal with local gardeners every day.
The staff here are more likely to know the difference between a Moonstruck and an Haute Couture hibiscus. They might even be able to get you a Dream Catcher hibiscus, which is a hybrid of those two.
The point is that local nurseries know the real stuff when it comes to plants.
They spend their days caring for plants, providing the right nutrition, watering, temperatures and they can give you the best advice for caring for your plants.
Prices will be higher because you’re dealing with specialists. That always comes with a higher price tag.
If you want or need that expert level of customer service you can’t get from chain retailers (unless you’re really lucky and strike a conversation with a green-thumbed shelf stacker), your local nursery will be the ideal place to buy hibiscus.
Big Box Stores
The big stores that are known for their discount pricing are able to offer savings because they bulk buy.
It’s the economy of scale at work.
They have the buying power and storage capacity for thousands of plants.
What they can’t do is give each plant individual attention so you’ll get far less quality.
If you know what you’re doing and aren’t afraid of nursing a plant back to health or spending time acclimatizing it to your growing conditions, you’ll save money buying from the likes of Walmart, Target, Lowes, or Home Depot.
Maybe even marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.
Savings from discount stores always come with a higher non-monetary price.
You’ll get yellow stickered plants for pennies on the dollar, but you’ll (probably) need to spend time nursing them.
That’s really only beneficial for experienced gardeners who know how to care for sickly plants. You can get lucky though.
Frequently Asked Questions about Buying Hibiscus
Do sellers accept returns if the plant doesn’t do well?
The big box stores often have warranties on their garden products including plants. Some as long as one year from the date of purchase. Local nurseries and mail order garden centers rarely refund. Exceptions are usually made in cases where it’s clear that the nursery was at fault, such as finding a pest infestation on your hibiscus plant a few days after planting it. In the majority of cases, refunds are store credits and not money back.
Can hibiscus plants be imported?
Yes, but it’s not a wise idea. Hibiscus plants are grown worldwide, some with tropical reds, and vibrant purples that look terrific in their native habitat. When shipped though, light is cut off and airflow reduced so the plant will arrive stressed. You cannot transplant a stressed plant. For the healthiest plants, buy in person from a local store so you can bring the plant home with you.
Local nurseries are the best places to buy hibiscus plants, but if your area lacks variety, you can order hibiscus online and have it shipped to your door.
You will need to know what you can grow before you have it shipped across the country.
Just because you can buy what you like online, doesn’t mean you should. What you like and what you can grow are often very different.
Research should always be done before you order hibiscus online.
If you need assistance, big box stores likely won’t have the knowledge to answer plant-specific queries. Garden centers and local nurseries will.
If you’re only just starting with gardening, or perhaps moved to a new area, take advantage of first-order discounts and free local shipping.
You will need more than the plant. Possibly a new container, suitable fertilizer, perhaps mulching material, or some gravel to lay along the bottom of a terra cotta pot.
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.