Hibiscus plants bring a tropical feel to the garden or interior. There are hardy hibiscus varieties but it is the Chinese, or tropical, variety that produces the lovely small trees. The hibiscus topiary forms a slender trunk with a closely cropped ball of foliage at the top. The plant will produce the large, deep throated flowers for which hibiscus are noted.
Tropical Chinese hibiscus is suitable for USDA plant hardiness zones 9 and 10 but makes excellent patio plants in summer where temperatures are cooler. Bring the plants indoors and they will reward you with flowers in winter. Most forms are small shrubs to diminutive plants, no taller than 5 to 6 feet tall.
Hibiscus are large shrubs or small trees that produce huge, colorful, trumpet-shaped flowers over a long season. Hibiscus are deciduous shrubs with dark green leaves; the plants can grow to 15 feet tall in frost-free areas. Flowers may be up to 6 inches diameter, with colors ranging from yellow to peach to red. Hibiscus can be planted singly or grown as a hedge plant; they can also be pruned into a single-stemmed small tree. The flowers are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.
Hibiscus require at least 1 inch of rain (or equivalent watering) each week. They like to be constantly moist, but not wet. Feed twice a month during the growing season and prune as necessary to control plant size and cut back errant branches. Cut branches back to just above a side shoot. Hibiscus are sensitive to cold and should be protected when temperatures dip into the 30s; container-grown plants should be brought indoors. Check plants periodically for pests such as aphids, white flies and mealybugs. Use a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to control these pests.