When to prune hibiscus for a healthy plant and beautiful flowers come summer

Hold your horses and your secateurs – it might not be the time just yet

Hibiscus flowers
(Image credit: Getty Images/annick vanderschelden photography)

The vibrant blooms of a hibiscus plant have become synonymous with the summer season, both on holidays in more tropical climes and in many English gardens. But to keep the plant healthy and strong and its flowers big and abundant, there is a lot of out of season care that goes into it upkeep. This includes pruning and knowing when to prune hibiscus.

Mastering the technique of how to prune hibiscus is very important indeed. But choosing your timing right is just as key if not more so.

That’s why we’ve turned to our all-knowing gardening pros to reveal what the best time to prune hibiscus is and why. So hold off putting your pruning shears to work until you find out.

When to prune hibiscus

Hibiscus plant

(Image credit: Getty Images/Steven Willetts)

Similarly to knowing when to prune roses, cutting back your hibiscus at the right time of the year is just as important.

‘Pruning hibiscus is an important part of the plant's care routine for healthy growth and knowing the right time to do it is crucial for its blooming potential,’ explains Petar Ivanov, gardening and plant expert at Fantastic Gardeners.

'Pruning hibiscus is a great way to keep your shrub in good shape,' continues Fiona Jenkins, garden expert at MyJobQuote.co.uk. 'This ensures the outer branches don’t become too weighty and light and air can get to the centre. Hibiscus plants tend to grow tall, so pruning your plant annually while it’s still young will give you more attractive, bushy growth. Removing the old, dead and diseased branches will keep your hibiscus healthy.’

Hibiscus plant

(Image credit: Getty Images/Karan Mankar, 500px)
Petar Ivanov portrait
Petar Ivanov

Petar Ivanov is one of the company's top-performing experts and manages over six teams of gardeners, delivering stunning landscape results and fostering a deep connection with nature through his work.

It’s good to know why you’re doing something to give you a boost of motivation. In this case, it’s a healthy hibiscus plant with an abundance of big, juicy flowers.

Perhaps incidentally, the time when to prune hibiscus is quite similar to when you should be pruning your hydrangeas.

‘The best time to prune hibiscus in the UK is in late winter to early spring, around February to March, depending on the season's conditions, before you notice any new growth,’ advises Steve Chilton, garden expert from LeisureBench. ‘This offers plenty of time to allow new growth to develop before its blooming season.’

Steve Chilton portrait
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field. As the director of LeisureBench, an industry-leading garden furniture company, Steve has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. 

When not to prune hibiscus

Hibiscus flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images/George D. Lepp)

While there is the perfect time to prune your hibiscus (February to March), there are also times when you should definitely avoid doing it.

‘Avoid pruning hibiscus during its active growing season, especially in late spring and summer, because it can reduce blooming and stress the plant,’ warns Petar. ‘Instead, stick to late winter to early spring for your pruning. Also, if you wait too long into spring to prune, you risk cutting off new growth that has already started so aim for late winter or very early spring before new growth becomes too evident.’

Other times to avoid pruning hibiscus are during any extreme weather conditions. ‘Avoid pruning hibiscus during extremely hot or cold weather because it can stress the plant further. Instead, choose a mild, dry day for your pruning,’ Petar adds.

Hibiscus flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images/Billy_Fam)


Which month is best for pruning hibiscus?

The ideal time to prune hibiscus is from late winter to early spring, which generally falls between February and March.

‘As most hibiscus plants don’t flower until mid to late summer, you’re usually ok to prune them until late spring, but around March is best,’ recommends garden expert Fiona.

Does hibiscus need to be cut back in winter?

It’s not advised to prune hibiscus before or during the height of winter. Instead, this should be left until late winter/early spring.

‘I recommend avoiding pruning directly after flowering for the majority of outdoor-growing hibiscus plants in the UK. This is in order to prevent the flowers from being damaged by the frost and cold of the winter,’ explains garden pro Steve.

Everyone knows (or at least they should) that a pair of good, sharp and clean secateurs or pruning shears is a necessity when it comes to pruning. Blunt and dirty tools risk damaging and infecting your plant which could have dire consequences for your hibiscus. And we’re particularly impressed with the three pairs above that are sure to get the job done and take good care of your hibiscus plant.

Content Editor

Sara Hesikova has been a Content Editor at Ideal Home since June 2024, starting at the title as a News Writer in July 2023. Sara brings the Ideal Home’s readership features and news stories from the world of homes and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more, focusing on all things room decor, specialising in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.