Question of the Week – Number Two: October 31, 2019

“Do I need to prune my hibiscus and bougainvillea plants before I move them into the garage for the winter? Is there anything else I need to do?”

If you’ve read my words before, please forgive me. Many people have not.

Tropical hibiscus grows quite large where it receives sunlight and warm conditions.

The garage is not a good place to “store” plants for 4 or 5 months. Tropical hibiscus and bougainvilleas are large tropical plants that thrive in full sunlight and 85- or 90-degree daytime temperatures. Neither of those sounds like the average garage. Garages are too dark and too cold.

Continued Below

By the time winter is over and each of those plants has spent four or five months stashed behind the lawnmower and the old Christmas decorations they’re pretty well drained of their vigor.

Even 45 degrees puts a shiver in the midribs of a bougainvillea leaves. They love hot, sunny conditions.

So what are your best options? Some may be absurd for your situation, but I’ll list them anyway:

Consider a greenhouse. It’s a great way to love gardening year ‘round.
Install a window or skylight in your garage. (“Grow” lights don’t give nearly enough light intensity.)
Trim the plants enough that you can move them indoors to a bright south or west window or sunroom.
Simply buy fresh plants each spring. That’s not such a bad plan if the others aren’t options, because plants that have been sitting in the garage all winter seem to take two or three months to get geared up to grow, and by then you’ve lost half of the season.

So I’m not trying to shut you down. I’m just trying to bring you clear focus of what to expect.

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top