Hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus spp.) come in almost all colors and sizes. One of the most commonly grown of the 300 species is the Chinese hibiscus plant (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), which is prized for its large, showy blooms. Children will be fascinated with each flower's long stamens. Because the plants are not tolerant of freezing temperatures, they are often grown indoors where -- unlike their outdoor counterparts -- they may bloom year-round.
Hibiscus flowers add tropical flair to your indoor space. Although each bloom opens for only one to two days, it then drops, allowing another to soon take its place. Meanwhile, other flowers are opening on other parts of the plant. This staggered blooming makes the plant appear as if it is blooming non-stop. Although the species flowers are shades of red, many cultivars are available that offer yellow, orange, pink and multicolored blooms.
Although it is commonly grown as a houseplant, Chinese hibiscus can be grown outdoors as well. Some home gardeners grow the plant in a container and bring it indoors for the winter. Others grow the plant outdoors year-round, where it will go dormant and stop blooming in the winter. The plant is hardy outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, and it can reach heights and widths of 10 and 8 feet respectively.
Proper care is essential if you are going to coax your hibiscus to bloom all year long. Bright light is key. Without full sunlight, the plant will not bloom nearly as well and may drop buds before they open. The plants grow best when the soil is kept moist, but never soggy. Containers should have holes and a water-catch tray to allow for proper drainage. In the winter, let the top inch of soil dry to the touch before you water it again, but never let it dry out completely. If the plant wilts, it may be difficult to bring it back to health.
It is sometimes difficult to give an indoor hibiscus enough light during the winter months to keep it blooming. Some gardeners may turn to supplemental lighting. Others may allow the plant to go dormant so it can renew its energy for spring blooming. To do this, slowly stop watering and feeding the plant in October. In November, cut it back and then place it in a cool -- about mid-50s Fahrenheit -- dry location. Then, bring it back out when the days start to get brighter and longer. Never prune in late winter or spring, as the blooms grow on new growth, which could be cut off during the pruning.