Bring in Your Tropical Plants Now!


Have you got hibiscus, mandevilla, or other tropical plants you don’t want to say goodbye to for the winter?

Follow these simple steps and you will be able to enjoy your tropical plants again next summer.

We especially love the colorful tropical plants that reward us with dramatic flowers all summer.  But these same plants will not live through the winter in our climate, and if fact will be damaged in temperatures below 50-55 degrees.  Worried about losing the beautiful hibiscus you enjoyed all summer? Can’t stand the thought of tossing out your mandevilla that rewarded you with colorful blooms for months?

So do we let them die a cold death? Of course not! In fact if you can “winter over” your plants, and mature plants actually flower better than young ones.

Mandevillas (sometimes listed as dipladenia) are dramatic vining plants with large glossy leaves and magnificent trumpet shaped flowers which can be pink, red, purple or white.

Hibiscus, too, can come in many colors and sizes, including bushes and trees.

The winter care of mandevillas and hibiscus, like many tropical plants can be one of two methods. If you have the space, they can be brought indoors and grown as a houseplant. Place the pot in a sunny location. Water about once a week. Trim as needed to maintain the desired size. These plants will not bloom through the winter due to the shorter days unless they receive supplemental lighting. With this method don’t be alarmed if these tropicals insist on going dormant and lose their leaves. They often look dreadful during the winter.

The other method is the “just don’t die” method. Dig the mandevilla from the garden or bring in the container before temperatures get below 60 degrees F. Trim the plant back to about 8-10 inches. Wash plant thoroughly. Drench container soils with water to encourage any critters like ants and sowbugs to vacate. Store the plant in a cool dark basement, garage or crawlspace. Anywhere where the temperatures stay about 55-60 degrees is adequate. Do not fertilize during the winter.

Keep the soil on the dry side, but do not let it dry out completely. In the early spring the plant will form shoots. Move it to a sunny spot indoors and pinch shoots periodically to form a bushier, more floriferous vine. Before setting outside in late May or early June, repot and apply a water-soluble fertilizer. Do not set outside until all chances of frost have passed and temperatures stay above 60 degrees F.

Tropicals are worth the extra effort to nestle them in for a long winter’s nap, so you can appreciate them again when spring brings the promise of summer blooms.