Q: We have six potted hibiscus that we move in and out of our home every fall and spring. We usually have to cut them way back to fit them into our warm basement area where they get six hours of indirect light. The problem is it takes them all summer to bloom again. Any suggestions for next spring?
A: If you have to cut them way back in order to keep them indoors for the winter, it’s likely the plants don’t have many leaves left after pruning. The indirect light in the basement might keep the top of the plant alive, but barely so. When you take the plants back out in spring it might take several weeks to get photosynthesis cranked up and producing new leaves and flower buds. I think the hibiscus plants would be better off if you pruned them to a smaller size in August each year, giving them enough time to recover and make new leaves before they have to be moved inside. You don’t have to shear everything off. With a little thought and judicious pruning, you can remove the longest twigs while still leaving enough leaves and flower buds to power a healthy and attractive recovery. Buy an aluminum clamp light and a 100 watt equivalent fluorescent bulb for each plant. Install 12 inches above the foliage.