Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > May 2015 > SHOWY, GORGEOUS CHINESE HIBISCUS

SHOWY, GORGEOUS CHINESE HIBISCUS

This tropical flowering shrub certainly deserves its popularity as a summer patio plant.  It will freely produce its large 5-petaled flowers when given sun, water and warm temperatures.  The state flower of Hawaii, there are over 5000 cultivars in a mind-boggling array of colors (white, reds, pinks, peaches, orange, yellows, lavenders…), and hybridizers are busily producing more as you read this.  There are single- and double-flowered varieties on bush, standard and braided forms.  The flowers of various cultivars may be as small as 2 inches in diameter or up to 4 or 5 inches across, and may be a solid color, or striped or splotched.  A red hibiscus flower is still the most popular, but my favorites are yellows and peaches.  Hibiscus flowers of any size or color are easily recognized by the long central tube (stigma) with stamens and pistil at the tip.

In the tropics, Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) are used as specimens, foundation shrubs, or to make hedges, but we have to keep them in containers so that they can come inside over the winter.  As with many tropical flowering shrubs, a little shade in the middle of the day is much appreciated by the otherwise sun-loving plant.  Hibiscus are thirsty, so check for water needs regularly, keeping the soil moist but not saturated, and provide good drainage.  Apply a flowering-formula fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer.

This plant can get fairly large, up to 8 or 9 feet in height, but they are prunable.  It is best to cut the plant back by up to a third when you bring it in for the winter.  With dry air and lower light levels, some yellow leaf drop is normal.  You may not get any flowers while inside, but, as hibiscus flower on new growth, once outside they should resume flowering.

Most hibiscus flowers are only open for one day.  In Tahiti, a girl sticks a hibiscus flower behind her left ear if she is looking for a mate.  Hibiscus flowers do not need to be placed in water to prevent wilting.  They will keep for several hours if picked just after opening.  To keep flowers open until evening, place a freshly picked flower in the refrigerator until just before using.
Posted: 5/19/2015 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
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