S & J Nursery’s Guide to Growing
Hibiscus Painted Lady
in the Northeast Florida Landscape
( Hibiscus rosa- sinensis ‘Painted Lady’)
Hibiscus Painted Lady Origins:
– Hibiscus rosa sinensis plants are a long time southern staple in the landscape and a favorite for potted gardens and indoor gardens in colder winter areas. The big bold blooms from spring all the way to fall add an instant tropical appeal to the landscape and are one of the showiest shrub or tree selections available.
– Hibiscus rosa-senensis are often referred to as Chinese Hibiscus and
are thought to be native to tropical Asia.
Hibiscus Painted Lady Preferred Exposure:
– Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Painted Lady’can be planted in a full sun
to partially shaded location in the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine area landscape.
– Best if planted on the south side of the house away from cold north winds, up next to a fence or near the foundation of a home or other building, or near larger shade trees that will protect these tropical plants from frost.
Hibiscus ‘Painted Lady’ Foliage:
– Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Painted Lady’ has large medium green leaves that
are heavily scalloped at the edges.
– Foliage may or may not remain evergreen during the winter in our
Northeast Florida area gardens, foliage is generally thought to be hardy to near 30 degrees and roots are hardy to 20 degrees. As with all tropical plantings, they are particularly responsive to their individual planting location. When planted on the south side of the house away from north winds, or where receiving some frost protection from larger trees or nearby buildings, hibiscus rosa-sinensis plants have been known to remain evergreen and blooming right in the middle of winter on one area of the yard and suffer complete foliage burn from frost in another. All that
fuss and Hibiscus will remain one of the most popular landscape plants available because despite their need for a little extra care during recovery after winter, hibiscus plants will be well worth the effort!
Hibiscus Painted Lady Soil Preference / Salt tolerance:
– Painted Lady hibiscus plants will prefer well drained soils that are rich in organic matter. Amend the soil when planting with compost to help your northeast Florida soil hold both water and nutrients to keep the hibiscus healthy and blooming.
– Be sure to plant your hibiscus rosa-sinensis into a raised burm (
slightly elevated mound 2-3 inches of even higher above the existing grade) in wet soils, they do not like wet feet and poorly draining soils is the fastest way to kill your hibiscus plants!
– Hibiscus rosa-sinensis are moderately salt tolerant and well suited to coastal landscape plantings here in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area landscape.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Painted Lady Size Variance:
– The foliage on the Hibiscus ‘Painted Lady’ may reach heights
of 10 ft or more in the tropics, but are normally seen at around 6-8 ft high and 3-4 ft wide here in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area landscapes.
Hibiscus Painted Lady Growth Habit:
– Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Painted Lady’ will form an upright but rounded
column of dense foliage and blooms, or can be trained to a small ornamental tree with lower leaves and branches removed.
Hibiscus Painted Lady Growth Rate:
– Slower growing in spring but quickly grows during the hot summer months even when trimmed down to the ground after a hard freeze.
Hibiscus Painted Lady Bloom:
-Extra large blooms are a bright hot pink with a deep burgundy throat and soft white veining from the center outward to the about near the center of each blossom. Painted Lady hibiscus has slightly waved edges that add interest to it’s already beautiful blooms.
Hibiscus Painted Lady Water Requirements:
– Although much more durable once established in the landscape, regular water is necessary to get the plant rooted and growing on its own after being planted in the ground from an S & J Nursery container. Water every day for the first week then every other day for the next week, and continue to taper watering black to a minimum of once a week or every time the top 2 inches of the soil is dry to the touch.
Best Uses For Hibiscus ‘Painted Lady’ in the Jacksonville | St. Augustine Area Landscapes :
– Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Painted Lady’ adds instant tropical appeal
to any landscape setting.
– Use as a stand a lone garden specimen or in massed plantings to add flower color during spring summer and fall.
– Big bold color flowers grab attention anywhere you put them.
– Easy care plant for containers on pool decks, patio areas,
walkways, home entry accents etc.
Care of Hibiscus ‘Painted Lady’ in the Northeast Florida Landscape:
– Amend sandy soils generously with compost to help your hibiscus
get the much needed water and nutrients it takes to feed these ever blooming beauties.
– Water every day during the establishment period after planting in the garden from an S & J Nursery container. Be sure to continue supplemental irrigation during the hot summer months making sure to water when the top 2-3 inches of the soil has dried out.
– Fertilize these fast growing heavy flower producing shrubs often for best
results. A minimum of a good fertilizer application in spring summer and again in fall each year. Tropical plant food is best.
– When temperatures drop below 30 degrees you may opt to protect your foliage and stems from severe frost damage by throwing a blanket or other breathable fabric over the top of the plant making sure the edges touch the ground to trap in the heat from the soil.
– Make your last summer pruning in August giving your Hibiscus plant ample time to recover new foliage that will harden off before winter arrives for us here in late December. Pruning to late into the fall will cause flushes of cold sensitive new growth that is sure to freeze during even a light
frost that hardened off foliage would not be affected by.
– DO NOT REMOVE BURNT FOLIAGE UNTIL ALL DANGER OF FROST HAS PASSED. If you are like me, I just let the winter have at my hibiscus and deal with what I have left in the spring. If you choose this option, be sure not to remove any stems or leaves from the plant until we have reached
the last average frost date and there are no late freezes being predicted. ( mid February for Northeast Florida is the average last frost date) Trimming burnt foliage and stems before then will leave bare branches deeper on the plant exposed to cold temperatures that would have been protected by those same stems and foliage if left unpruned and most often results in loss of the plant entirely.
-Trim off cold damaged foliage in spring after all danger of frost has passed.
Fertilize with a slow release garden food like Osmocote directly after spring pruning and again in summer and fall. Hibiscus are heavy bloomers and all those blooms quickly deplete nutrient stores, you may opt to fertilize
biweekly or monthly with a water soluble bloom fertilizer, just be sure to use the Osmocote as well to make sure the plant still has the nutrients it needs if you decide to stop feeding the flowers. I have really sandy soil in my home garden and like to add a few shovel full of compost around the base of the plant underneath the foliage each spring, fertilize once a season with Osmocote and throw a handful of granular bloom booster every once in a while if I notice that there are not as many blooms on the plant as I would like!