Drip Systems & Fertigation
EXOTIC HIBISCUS THRIVE ON CONSISTENT INPUTS
Exotic hibiscus are some of the most hungry plants you will come across when it comes to fertilization and attention. They also thrive when they not only are receiving the proper inputs they want but at a constant amount over long periods of time. Exotic hibiscus are momentum plants and take time to slow down and then build up momentum to go in a different direction both good or bad.
Being that hibiscus originated from tropical climates they have evolved to be used to constant temperatures and weather with only minor variations. Since Southern California is a Mediterranean Climate Zone we experience seasons which hibiscus do not like or need. This includes both moderate changes in seasonal temperatures and precipitation which again are not consistent with how hibiscus have genetically evolved to flourish. One advantage we have here in Southern California is that we do not normally get excessive amounts of rain on an annual basis so we can have adequate control over how much water our plants get. This is a nice setup for using drip systems that can deliver precise and consistent amounts of water and fertilizer to your plants.
Drip systems have been around for a long time now and they continue to innovate new products to make them more effective and easier to utilize. Not only are drip systems the best way to minimize the amount of water used on your property but they allow you to target specific inputs into your water for your hibiscus like fertilizers. This is known as FERTIGATION – the process by injecting fertilizers directly into your drip system’s water source. For those of us who have a large amount of plants on our properties this becomes a life saver in both time management and effectiveness with growing results. And drip systems work great for both in ground plants and potted plants. There are a host of different fertilizer injectors now available for the home grower. The size and power of injectors cover it all from a small collection of just a dozen plants to those of us well into the hundreds spread over vast spaces across our properties.
Most parts for drip systems can be purchased at your local big box stores as well as many hardware stores that have gardening/ plumbing sections. We highly recommend Dripworks.com for all of your special drip irrigation needs and great how to info on their website. Drip Works Website
EZ FLOW INJECTORS
We recommend for small size drip system setups to use an EZ Flow injector. EZ Flow comes in 3/4 gallon and 2 gallon holding tanks which take up little space, can be placed on the ground, are easy to connect to your water supply, can handle high PSI and are the most inexpensive reliable injectors. The one big downside to using EZ Flow injectors is that they work using a dilution mechanism. Your holding tank will be filled with your concentrated fertilizer mix and when your drip system turns on it will push water into your holding tank through one water line and then push it out through through an exiting water line that will mix the concentrate to the mix ratio dial you preset. The problem here is that with each use of your EZ Flow injector your concentrate mix will become more and more diluted with water until the entire holding tank is nothing but water after a number of uses. So your plants will not get a constant mix of fertilizers which goes against their need for constant inputs that they can grow accustom to over time allowing them to thrive.
For growers that are serious about giving the best inputs to their hibiscus on a constant basis, have a large collection of hibiscus plants and/or spread out over large areas a stronger and larger volume injector is needed. We have tested out several of the top of the line fertilizer injectors over the years and have found that Dosatron is the most reliable. Other brands tend to start having mechanical issues after several years and seem to be more sensitive to the elements. Dosatron also offers a nice array of injectors that offer different gallons per hour output. This is very important as the more drippers, micro sprinklers and distance you cover with your drip lines your water pressure can drop quickly to your peripheral outlying lines and emitters causing them to not work. The set up and assembly needed is definitely a lot more complicated and involves some planning out ahead of time but the results are well worth it. You can choose the size holding tank (not part of the Dosatron Injector assembly) for your concentrate fertilizer mix you want to accommodate both space available as well as controlling what intervals you will have to refill your tank concentrate mix. The giant advantage with Dosatron is it mixes your concentrate with the water inside of the pump itself drawing up only pure concentrate from your holding tank (it never gets diluted). Also with the ability to get a pump with much stronger gallon per hour volumes you can supply water to much larger areas and more plants.
By installing an Alternator Valve into your drip system you can split the number of emitters being used per timer run. This is invaluable as you basically increase the water pressure by 50% since you are now only using your drip system pump for half of what your were before it was installed. So you then set your timer to go off twice on the same day. The alternator valve works through water pressure and will change the direction of flow between one of the two valves automatically each time the drip system turns on. Thus you will run two drip lines out to your zone, one from each of the valves on the alternator. This is critical when it comes to set ups that have a lot of emitters, distance to cover and/or uphill gradients to conquer.
What to Add to Your Fertigation Mix
We recommend to add 1 Cup per gallon of HVH Special Blend, 1 Cup per gallon of HVH Booster for a minimum mix. Since hibiscus roots are their vulnerable part it is helpful to add supplements that support root strength and development. We also recommend using Supernova Plant Additive (1/2 Cup per gallon) though it is expensive as well as a Vitamin B1 Supplement at 1/2 Cup per gallon as well. You can purchase these products at the following link:
Hidden Valley Hibiscus Care Products