Hibiscus


(Species: Hibiscus - Family:    Malvaceae)

Hibiscus and its origins
The hibiscus, from the Greek word hibiscus, is part of the mallow family, and there are over 200 different species that grow throughout the world, ranging from annuals to small trees. However they have one common factor, in varying forms: the distinctive funnel-shaped flower, which resembles an exotic tropical bloom, even on the hardy shrub varieties.

Seasonality: Hibiscus in flower
The most garden-worthy hibiscus are the medium-sized shrubs that offer spectacular blooms in a wide range of luscious colours, including white, peach, cerise, lemon yellow, cherry red and pale pink.

The reliably hardy hibiscus is syriacus, which is readily available, especially cultivar Oiseau Bleu (formerly Blue Bird), which has rich lavender-blue flowers with carmine throats; the similar Chinese hibiscus, rosa-sinensis, can be grown successfully outdoors in warm, sunny gardens.

The branches are stiff and upright, growth can be ungainly, the serrated leaves are unmemorable and it is deciduous, so becomes bare after the flowers reach maturity but those fleeting flowers that bloom from high summer to early autumn make you forgive its other shortcomings.

How to plant: Hibiscus
Hibiscus, as befits such an exotic-looking plant, is inclined to be fussy. It demands free-draining soil and full sun in order to thrive, as well as protection from cold winds.

Add organic matter to the planting hole to guarantee the perfect sowing conditions to offer the plant a good start.  Be patient, hibiscus takes time to get going. You can also grow the plant successfully in a large container, provided you water regularly through dry periods.

 

Keep established plants in good shape by cutting back stems in early spring, and encourage bushiness on young plants by pinching out tips. Check regularly for whitefly, which can damage flower growth.   

Propagation of Hibiscus
Grow annuals such as Hibiscus Trionum from seed; propagate shrubs by taking green cuttings in late spring or semi-ripe cuttings in summer.

Did you know: Interesting Hibiscus facts
Due to their flamboyant, funnel-like blooms, hibiscus attracts bees and butterflies, as well as hummingbirds.

 

Aside from its highly decorative value, the flower is used to make tea, served hot or cold, in many countries throughout the world.  Hibiscus is purported to be a diuretic that can also lower blood pressure.