Say the word ‘hibiscus’ and you’re instantly transported to a lush, tropical oasis, surrounded by vibrant, flowering plants that love the natural humidity and warmth. Luckily, even those of us who live in less-than-tropical regions can have that sultry experience as long as we have an understanding of how to nourish these tropical flowers.
One way to ensure success is by investing the best hibiscus fertilizers for your garden. In their native environment, they rely on nutrient-rich organic material to supplement their preferred sand- or clay-based soil. So, it’s no wonder they need a hefty boost of nutrients to encourage their spectacular blooms when residing in our gardens.
- What Is Hibiscus Fertilizer?
- Best Fertilizer For Hibiscus Reviewed
- 1. Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food 24-8-16
- 2. EarthPods Hibiscus Plant Food 0.2-0.2-0.4
- 3. Down to Earth Organic Neem Seed Meal Fertilizer 6-1-2
- 4. Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food 15-9-12
- 5. Espoma Flower-Tone Plant Food Organic Fertilizer 4-3-4
- 6. Down to Earth Organic Langbeinite Fertilizer Mix 0-0-22
- 7. Dr. Earth Organic Bud & Bloom Hibiscus Fertilizer 3-9-4
- How To Fertilize Hibiscus
- When To Fertilize Hibiscus
- Final Thoughts On Hibiscus Fertilizer
- FAQ Fertilizing Hibiscus Plants
What Is Hibiscus Fertilizer?
Hibiscus plants have an enviable tendency to bloom much later into the season than many other flowering plants that are often past their prime by the end of summer. But to achieve the same results in your garden you’ll need to boost the availability of nitrogen and potassium.
They will also respond well to a soil that is enriched with a wide range of micronutrients. Thankfully, these can be found in many fertilizer formulas. Furthermore, regular mulching will nourish the soil and help your hibiscus plants flourish.
Another thing to consider when selecting the right hibiscus fertilizer for your plants is that, unlike many other species, hibiscus can absorb nutrients through their leaves. This means they will also respond well to a foliar spray.
This is great news if you are planning on using a liquid or ‘tea’ fertilizer. And choosing a foliar spray with Neem oil will protect your hibiscus against pest infestations.
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Hibiscus N-P-K Ratio
The best way to make sure your hibiscus continues to shine year after year is to keep phosphorous levels low while nitrogen and potassium stay elevated.
These all-important macronutrients are required to keep plants looking healthy and happy. Here’s a short guide to what these macro-nutrients are and how they can support the growth of your hibiscus plants.
Nitrogen is used by plants for the production of chlorophyll and other important metabolic processes.
When choosing between different fertilizers, you will come across many with a high concentration of nitrogen to ensure the enduring and long-lasting vitality of hibiscus plants. However, as is the case with most things, too much of a good thing can be bad and can cause nitrogen burn.
I encourage you to avoid using nitrogen in excess if your soil is rich in nitrogen or your plants are young. Take it from me and consider factors such as planting location, soil condition, plant age, and size to help you strike the right balance of how much nitrogen to incorporate into your hibiscus feed.
As mentioned before, hibiscus plants don’t respond well to high levels of phosphorus. A healthy hibiscus doesn’t require very much of it. Over-feeding this element will cause a build-up in the plant’s system and may block other, more needed, nutrients from being absorbed by the roots. This can result in hibiscus leaves turning yellow and dropping.
I only really incorporate higher doses of phosphorus for ailing plants that have slowed down or stop flowering completely. A tiny boost of phosphorus can jump-start the plant’s flower-producing processes. Too much, however, and the plant will continue to decline.
Before planting a new hibiscus, you may want to do a soil test to see how much phosphorus is naturally present in the soil. If it’s too high, you’ll need to amend the soil or choose another planting location.
Hibiscus shrubs and trees are big fans of potassium. It stimulates robust plant and root system growth and promotes strong photosynthesis. Potassium also helps to strengthen the growth and formation of stems and leaves while improving pest and disease resistance.
With the use of a higher potassium feed, you will be rewarded with lush, green leaves and vibrantly colored flowers that are perfectly structured.
For all these reasons, a hibiscus won’t hesitate to let you know that it’s not getting enough potassium. Be on the lookout for browning tips and edges on older leaves. This could indicate a potassium deficiency.
Best Fertilizer For Hibiscus Reviewed
It’s fair to say that no single fertilizing formula is perfect for every situation. That’s not to mention our own personal preferences when it comes to gardening. One gardener’s need for an all-purpose product may conflict with another’s desire to fix up an ailing tree or shrub.
I’ve looked at the quality of the fertilizer ingredients, overall performance, as well as the level of customer satisfaction taken from thousands of customer reviews across all major retail platforms, and of course the product’s ease of use.
My first pick for a great quick-release option is from Miracle-Gro. It’s water-soluble and offers a good nutrient balance for hibiscus. However, I use half the recommended dosage.
I’d also recommend this for encouraging blooms on potted hibiscus that you want to over-winter indoors. Everything needs to be just right to get winter blooms but it is achievable, and Miracle-Gro is one part of that particular puzzle that you can control. It’s lovely to see such vivid color when everything else outside has gone dormant!
Check Miracle-Gro latest price on Amazon.com
How To Use: For a fast-acting dose of nutrients, simply shake the bottle well before each application and mix the recommended amount with water. Feed your hibiscus every 1-2 weeks, depending on the season and weather conditions, for lush indoor or outdoor tropicals.
Customer Reviews: Gardeners who have tried cheaper products in the past are saying they went right back to Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food. And those who have been unlucky with hibiscus previously are raving about their spectacular results. All awarding this product 4.7 / 5 stars.
- Provides quick-release formula for fast results
- Easy application every 1-2 weeks
- Relatively high price point for this quality product
These small, eco-conscious capsules from EarthPods vigorously promote root growth and color vibrancy for potted hibiscus and other tropicals like bougainvillea, passionflower, plumeria, jasmine, and bird of paradise.
These concentrated pods come in a canister of 100, so no messy measuring is required with this one. And with no odor, the canister can be easily stored on your kitchen shelf and then recycled when empty.
How to use: Insert EarthPods Hibiscus capsules (as recommended on the label) into the potting soil once every 1-2 weeks near the base of your potted plant to introduce a wide variety of organic nutrients and trace minerals.
Customer reviews: Gardeners are so happy with the simple application process that produces such an environmentally friendly result, declaring this the only fertilizer they’ll buy. Awarding it a generous 4.6 out of 5
- Beneficial for a wide range of tropical plants
- Capsules are easily stored and recyclable
- Can be a costly way to fertilize if you have lots of plants or large plant
This 6-1-2 formula made from the cold-pressed seeds of the Neem tree is versatile enough to be used in several different ways. It can be mixed into ground soil or potting mix as a slow-release method. Or applied as a steeped tea for quicker results.
When used as a tea, it can be applied to foliage where leaves not only absorb nutrients but are also provided with protection against pests.
Formulated without the use of synthetics or stimulants, this Down to Earth product has been certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute, which means you can be assured that it contains nothing but goodness.
How To Use: As a tea, mix no more than 2 cups into 5 gallons (4 liters) of water and let it steep for 3 days. It can then be used as a foliar spray. For a slow-release option, work the recommended amount, based on in-ground shrub or pot size, into the soil.
Customer Reviews: Consumers are delighted with the dramatic results they’ve seen with this product. Including the unexpected benefit of it eliminating all damaging pests while leaving beneficial insects alone. Awarding this eco-friendly option an impressive 4.7 / 5 stars.
- Can be used in a variety of different application methods
- Eliminates harmful pests while protecting beneficial insects
- It has that all-natural organic smell. But hey, it’s an all-natural organic product!
This next pick is specifically formulated for potted plants and contains no less than 11 essential minerals. It’s a granular, slow-release option from Osmocote and continues to nourish soil and roots for up to 6 months.
It works by allowing nutrients to be gradually released into the soil as the surrounding temperature warms up to coincide with the plant’s active growing season. When used as directed, there is no risk of root burn.
How to use: As a soluble, sprinkle 1 scoopful of feed per 2 gallons (8 liters) of water for every 4 square feet of plant. For a slow-release application, mix the recommended amount into the top 1-3 inches of potting soil. Then water regularly.
Customer reviews: Users were amazed at how otherwise dull and lackluster plants were revived and became vibrant in color again. Plants that were not expected to survive, due to severe weather, held up as a result of strong roots, stems, and foliage. And the large-sized bag means very good value for money. Granting this product from Osmocote 4.7 / 5 stars.
- Feeds for up to 6 months
- Minimal risk of root burn
- Tiny resin pellets may be visible once nutrients have been delivered
This granular Flower-Tone formula from Espoma is perfect if your garden bed or container soil is already rich in nitrogen. Nutrients are slowly released to your plants over time without overwhelming them with what they don’t need.
The patented Bio-tone microbes formula plus a 4-3-4 NPK ratio promotes abundant blooms on most flowering plants including hibiscus. It’s versatile enough for outdoor garden beds and containers, as well as indoor potting, with no unnecessary fillers.
How to use: Just evenly pepper the granules onto the soil around your hibiscus. Then, water thoroughly. Be sure to follow the recommended amounts on the label based on the plant’s size and location.
I find this hibiscus fertilizer can cause leaf burn if any product is left to settle on either the foliage or stems. If you do notice any wayward spillage, simply brush it off to protect your plants.
Customer reviews: Gardeners are reporting such great success with this product, they’re excited to spread the word! Hibiscus and other flowering plants in their gardens are just covered in stunning blooms. Publicly awarding this plant food 4.7 / 5 stars.
- Promotes an abundance of blooms on hibiscus shrubs and trees
- Great results on most flowering plants
- May take longer to display great results due to slow-release nature
For hibiscus plants that already benefit from nitrogen-rich soil and don’t require any extra, this fertilizer is high in potassium and a water-soluble option from Down to Earth. As a foliar spray or direct watering application, its 0-0-22 N-P-K is specially formulated to ensure that your hibiscus (and other plants with similar needs) stay healthy with robust roots and vigorous growth throughout the warmer seasons without overfeeding.
How to use: As a foliar spray, combine 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Langbeinite to 1 gallon (4 liters) of water. Then, apply with even coverage directly onto the plant’s leaves. For direct watering applications, combine 1-2 tablespoons to 1 gallon (4 liters) of water. Check Langbeinite out prices here
Customer reviews: Consumers were impressed with the increase in their plant’s vitality and the overall health of their gardens, especially in desert and valley regions. Earning Down to Earth’s Langbeinite feed a whopping 4.8 / 5 stars.
- Can be used as a ‘tea’ or foliar spray
- Low risk of sulfur burn
- May take longer to display great results due to slow-release nature
Sometimes, a good soil test may reveal that your plant’s soil has been depleted of all its phosphorus. As I’ve discussed, hibiscus plants do need a bit of it to allow for proper absorption of other nutrients. That’s when Dr. Earth comes to the rescue.
This granular feed has the right balance of nutrients to get your soil on track so that plants can start to produce more bountiful blooms once again. You can buy Dr Earth Organic Bud and Bloom at Amazon.com
How to use: For new plantings, work 1/2 – 2 cups of granules into your soil. For established plants, apply the recommended amount on the label based on the number of cubic feet of soil around your plant.
Customer reviews: Gardeners are very pleased with this product’s ability to properly amend their soil with just the right amount of phosphorus to support healthy plants. The amazing results they get make the slightly higher price point well worth the investment. Granting Dr. Earth’s Bloom Booster 4.7 / 5 stars.
- Can help soil that is lacking in phosphorus
- Slow-release so less risk of leaf and root burn
- Marginally more expensive than the competition but worth the investment
How To Fertilize Hibiscus
As we’ve seen in my top hibiscus fertilizers list, the easiest and most rewarding way to bring about health and bountiful blooms throughout the summer months is with either a fast-acting, water-soluble feed or a slow-release, granular one. And the variety of N-P-K ratios presented gives you the flexibility to meet both your plant’s needs and those of the rest of your garden at any level.
If you’re looking to fertilize a hibiscus alone, then you’ll want to choose an N-P-K that’s high in nitrogen and potassium but low in phosphorus. If your soil is already rich in nitrogen then success may be found in the feed that’s heavy in potassium and low in the others.
If a soil test reveals that a little more phosphorus is needed to amend the soil and aid in nutrient absorption, a fertilizer with a more balanced N-P-K ratio may be the best solution. Bottom line? Understanding your soil means understanding your hibiscus and the best way to understand your soil is with a pH soil test kit.
Knowing how much nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is present in your soil is half the battle. The second half is knowing what the pH level is. Hibiscus plants are happiest in slightly acidic soil. According to Pennington, ‘slightly’ means a pH level of between 6.5 and 6.8 in the case of hibiscus plants.
If a soil test reveals this to be too high, the pH level can actually be lowered by mixing in a sulfur compound like aluminum sulfate. If it’s too high, a lime compound like dolomite or agricultural limestone will raise it up.
When To Fertilize Hibiscus
Hibiscus typically begin to form buds when the temperature rises to consistently warmer levels in spring. When that specifically occurs will vary according to climate and when spring arrives in your particular region. This actually makes it easy to determine when to start feeding your plants. Regardless of the type of feed you choose (quick- or slow-release), when the first round of blooms have faded, that’s when they’re ready.
Continue feeding through the summer to promote healthy foliage growth then finish the process in autumn. Hibiscus won’t require feeding during their winter, dormancy period.
How Often To Fertilize Hibiscus
How often depends on where your hibiscus plants and shrubs grow. Because potted plants experience nutrient depletion as excess water drains, they will need to be fed and watered more frequently. If you’re using a water-soluble fertilizer, roughly once a week during their active, blooming period. Plants growing in garden beds can easily go two weeks in between feedings as ground soil retains water and nutrients better.
If you’re using a slow-release option, applying it just three times per year is all it takes. Once in late spring, after the first round of blooms, again in mid-summer to boost foliage growth, and then a final time in autumn to last them through winter.
Final Thoughts On Hibiscus Fertilizer
The nutrition needs of hibiscus plants are unique but aren’t terribly complicated when you understand what they are and what the soil is already providing. The only thing left is to make up the difference with the right fertilizer.
So my final recommendations are to shoot for Miracle-Gro’s All Purpose Plant Food for general garden use. It’s a water-soluble option, allowing you to drench the nutrients directly into the soil so they can get to work immediately. Alternatively, if your growing potted plants, then I would use EarthPods Hibiscus Plant Food. This is a high-quality, easy-to-use product that won’t let you down.