Mary, Mary Quite Contrary Why Don't My Papos Bloom?

By: Jungle JimExotic HIBISCUS, the culinary delight of hummingbirds and butterflies, are vigorous growers that produce many huge and vividly colored flowers. It takes regular feeding to provide the building blocks for all this growth and color pigmentation.

Hibiscus (known in Panama as papos) like daily watering and sun. Weekly fertilization is recommended in small amounts.
Much Potassium:
Hibiscus have a voracious need for potassium - that is the third or last number in the formulas often given on fertilizer containers. Potassium assists in almost every part of plant growth and metabolism, as well as, photosynthesis, the plant's process that uses sunlight and water to create sugars for food. These sugars are then used to build every part of the plant, and hibiscus, with their complex, colorful, huge flowers need more potassium than most plants to assist in these building processes. Potassium also draws water into every plant cell, keeping each cell plump, hydrated, and healthy, which in turn makes the plant lusher and prettier, as well as more resistant to drought and disease.
Very Little Phosphorus:
Phosphorus is another important issue with hibiscus as they do not tolerate phosphorus well, and in high doses, it will slowly damage hibiscus plants over time. One of the most common mistake novice hibiscus-growers make is to use "Superbloom" or "Bloom Booster" fertilizers. These products (commonly known in Panama as 12-24-12) contain extremely high proportions of phosphorus and are very damaging to hibiscus. Too much phosphorus causes chlorotic, starving hibiscus plants that stop blooming.                                                                     .                  
Medium Amounts of Nitrogen:
All living cells use nitrogen, and all plants need plenty of nitrogen. Plants use nitrogen in their proteins, enzymes, in cholorophyll, and in almost all of their metabolic processes. Too much nitrogen can "burn" leaves, the familiar "fertilizer burn" that turns the leaf edges dark brown. But too little nitrogen can bring plant growth to a halt. So the goal is to provide enough for optimum growth without overdoing it and burning the plant. For hibiscus, this means a middle-ranged amount of nitrogen.


The big numbers on the labels of all fertilizers, called the NPK numbers, give the percentage of each of the three main macro-nutrients in this order: Nitrogen (N) - Phosphorus (P) - Potassium (K). The ratio found to be the best one Hibiscus experts use is 17-5-24.

       17                  5                            2
    Hibiscus           Hibiscus               Hibiscus
      Need                Need                   Need
   MEDIUM               TINY                   HIGH
     amounts           amounts            amounts

Now all you need to do is find 17-5-24 which used to be impossible until GRUPO CERES (Services for the Garden and Fumigation) opened in the old Him strip mall. Franklin Moreno is the owner, who is an expert on our horticulture. The store always has plenty of 17-5-24 as well as anything else you need for your garden.                           .

Hint: if you are having a problem with any plant, take a picture or a sample in a bag to show Sr. Moreno. He will inspect it under his magnifying lens and make good recommendations be it fertilizer or insecticides.