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Re: pruning hibs was: What is this strange item?

David, I will ask a stupid question (always say I'd rather ask a stupid 
question than make a stupid mistake.)  Will a hibiscus die of old age?  I lost one 
last year and another seems to be going this year in the same manner.  These 
plants are about 25-26 years old (can't remember exactly which year I got them) 
and have been fine until a couple of years ago.  I move them indoors before 
frost and they live under lights in my basement until spring.  They always look 
ratty by the end of the winter, but have bloomed fitfully all winter.  In 
late winter or early spring I cut them back, and they have sometimes lost leaves 
when I put them back out in the spring, but have always recovered pretty 
quickly and been handsome specimens all summer.  Last year when I cut them back, 
one never seemed to recover.  It would put out small leaves from the old woody 
stems, but they never developed more than about an inch long, and finally the 
plant just seemed to give up the ghost.  I had repotted it, fertilized it, 
watered it, and done all of the care-taking things I could think of, but by the 
end of the summer it was completely dead.  Now a second old guy is looking the 
same way.  I wonder if they just reach a certain point beyond which they can't 
return.  The old main stems are very thick and woody.  
  These plants had become so large and heavy that my 76-year-old husband can 
hardly manage any more, so I had decided to root cuttings and start over 
anyway, but I'm afraid this one hasn't enough strength left to put out a rootable 
cutting.  I have other hibuscus plants (hibisci ?), but these old guys were 
really part of the family and I hate to lose them.

In a message dated 05/22/2003 1:30:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
dfranzma@pacbell.net writes:

> Hibs bloom on new growth.  If you prune the entire plant at the same 
> time you can expect to wait about 10 weeks before they will bloom 
> again...assuming you are feeding and giving them plenty of light.  What 
> I tell most people is to prune one or so branches at a time so you can 
> still enjoy some blooms on the plant while you wait for the new branches 
> to regrow and develop buds.  Once that happens then select others 
> branches to prune.  In my opinion the time to severely prune the entire 
> plant is in the fall when most blooming has stopped.  In that way your 
> plant will be recovering during the spring and early winter ready again 
> for summer.  You can cut them back as far as you want.  They grow new 
> leaves on old wood.

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