How to Remove Dead Leaves to Prune a Hard Frozen Hibiscus

Remove leaves from hibiscus plants in early spring.

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Hibiscus is a tropical plant that does well in all climates if you care for the plant properly. The tropical variety can withstand cold to about 40 degrees and then must be brought inside for the colder months. Continued exposure to hard freeze temperatures will kill tropical hibiscus. Hardy hibiscus can be wintered outdoors up to growing zone 5. Both types can be pruned in the spring for optimum summer growth and flowering.

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Don't remove leaves from a hardy outdoor hibiscus during the cold months. Even though the leaves are brown and dried, they will insulate the plant from freezing. Carefully pull brown or yellow leaves by hand from a tropical hibiscus before bringing it inside for the winter.


Prepare tropical or hardy hibiscus for pruning in February or March by removing any remaining leaves. Brown and dried leaves will fall off the branch easily. Pull any remaining dried or brown leaves by hand prior to pruning.


Clean and sterilize your pruning shears with alcohol-based hand cleaner or rubbing alcohol to remove disease-carrying organisms. Wipe the blades with the solution and wait about 15 seconds before cleaning it off and cutting.


Cut branches back by about one-third, starting with the longest. Look for a leaf node or eye facing up. This is the direction the new growth will take. Prune after removing all the old leaves so you can easily see where the new leaf nodes are sprouting.

Tips & Warnings

Don't prune or remove leaves on hardy outdoor hibiscus until all danger of frost has passed.

To winter indoor tropical hibiscus, place the potted plant in a cool place such as a basement for the winter months where temperatures will remain above freezing. Water once a month. Bring the plant upstairs in March; remove any remaining leaves and prune the plant. Place in a sunny window and feed an acid-based plant food every other week. Put the plant outside in the shade during the day in the spring and gradually accustom it to full sun to avoid burning new leaf growth.

Ask your nursery whether your hibiscus is hardy or tropical to determine proper winter care.

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ReferencesUniversity of Washington Botanic Gardens: Elisabeth C. Miller Library; HibiscusHidden Valley Hibiscus: Pruning HibiscusPhoto Credit ImagesRead Next:

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