How Does Your Garden Grow? – April 2015

Hibiscus blooms are very showy and come in almost every imaginable color.

Hibiscus blooms are very showy and come in almost every imaginable color.

Louise Grabell

Having fun yet? Been to the local garden centers? Planted your annuals? How about those containers? One way to add color with very little effort is to plant profuse bloomers in some colorful containers. Irrigation or daily watering will be necessary. I’ve cheated a bit in my yard by setting up some nice, large ceramic containers which I moist with drip lines I’ve pulled off the main ¾ inch pipe that runs underground. For some really large containers, I’ve attached two drip lines to ensure that the potting soil gets a good soaking. The valves for those lines don’t run every day, so I do keep an eye on them and supply additional water if necessary on the hottest of days. Since these pots are out in the open, the summer monsoon rains help keep them moist.

One of my favorite plants for large containers is hibiscus. There are so many choices within this genus that you won’t have any difficulty finding a size and color that pleases you. Hibiscus is a shrub which can also grow into a small tree with proper pruning. No matter what size suits your needs, the flowers are large and outstanding. There is one drawback: an individual bloom lasts for just one day. However, there are always new blooms developing for the next day, and so on. Hibiscus start blooming in spring and do not quit until late fall.

The shrub is deciduous and loses its dark green leaves in early winter. But, if there is no deep freeze, the hibiscus will surprise you and throw out new leaves and blossoms for years to come. Containerized hibiscus can be covered in winter if the nighttime temperature drops below freezing. If you lose a plant, simply treat yourself to a new one! The blossoms come in every color you can imagine, each one more beautiful than the next. I have yellow flowering and orange flowering hibiscus in two large containers. One is in full sun and the other gets half day sun. The six inch diameter flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Fertilize twice a month during the growing season and prune as necessary to control the plant. Check plants periodically for pests such as aphids, white flies, mealybugs and even killer bees depending on where you live (check out this pest guide here for more information about pests). Use a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to control these pests. It’s really important to purchase your hibiscus from a reliable nursery and it is your job to check for pests before you make the purchase. And make sure you have a good potting soil mix on hand to complete the container planting. However, if you are finding that pests are becoming a serious problem in your garden, you may have to contact a team such as Adam’s Pest Control, Inc. to help get rid of them once and for all.

The Master Gardeners of SaddleBrooke has a website: for all up to date information and events for our community. Garden questions? You can reach our SaddleBrooke Garden Helpline by calling Pat at 520-407-6459. Your phone call will be forwarded to a Master Gardener Volunteer who will assist you in the solution of your problem.

Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.