Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (hye-BIS-kus roe-zuh sye-NEN-sis)
China rose, Rose mallow
Hibiscus plants are popular for their large, brightly colored,
papery flowers that can grow to 4 to 7 inches across and for
their beautiful, dark green foliage. The flowers resemble
hollyhocks. The plants can have single or double flowers.
Most Hibiscuses bloom in combinations of red, pink, yellow,
orange, white and lavender. Some varieties have violet, brown
and gold tones. Some are so dark they appear black.
Each flower may last only a day or two, but with proper care,
there will be a succession of blooms from spring to autumn, and
the plant itself can last for many years. Generally, only a few
flowers are open at any given time.
Hibiscuses are available year-round.
Popular varieties include ‘Candy Wind’ (pink), ‘Carolina Breeze’
(orange), ‘Golden Wind’ (yellow), ‘Brilliant Red’ (red), ‘Pink
Versicolor’ (pink) and ‘Sundance’ (yellow).
Hibiscuses are sensitive to ethylene gas. Check with your
suppliers to make sure their crops have been treated with an
ethylene inhibitor at the farm or during transportation.
MEANING “Hibiscus” comes
from the Greek word for “mallow.”
FAMILY Hibiscus is a member
of the Malvaceae, or mallow, family. Other notables of the group
include tree mallow (Lavatera), hollyhock (Alcea), flowering
maple (Abutilon) and even okra (Abelmoschus).
ORIGINS Hibiscus plants are
native to Southern China, tropical Asia and the Pacific islands.
BLOOMS Remove faded flowers
PESTS Several insects are
likely to show up on Hibiscuses. Check frequently for aphids,
spider mites, thrips, scales and white flies.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
LIGHT Bright, indirect light
is best for plants displayed indoors. Outdoors, Hibiscuses can
be placed in a bright location that is sheltered from hot sun,
wind and rain.
WATER Keep the soil evenly
moist at all times. Drying and irregular watering can cause bud
drop. Avoid standing water. Reduce watering in the winter.
TEMPERATURE Keep Hibiscuses
in rooms that are kept at a constant temperature. Warm areas (65
F to 75 F) are best. Do not refrigerate the plants because
sudden drops in temperature may result in blossom drop.
HUMIDITY Hibiscuses enjoy
constant moderate humidity, so daily misting is beneficial,
especially during the winter in heated rooms.
fertilized plants are more tolerant of insect attacks. Feed
weekly through the end of summer and only once a month during
the winter. Be sure plants are well watered before applying
fertilizer. Most growers prefer low-phosphate fertilizers. Avoid
bloom fertilizers because phosphorous can build up in the soil
over time and cause a general decline in the health of the
SOIL Hibiscuses will do best
in an acidic, moist, well-drained soil.
GROOMING Regularly prune
Hibiscus plants to keep them from getting leggy and to remove
straggly branches. Trimming plants in late winter will stimulate
new, healthy growth and additional blossoms.
Some information provided by:
The American Hibiscus Society,
The Chain of Life Network®,
SAF’s Flower & Plant Care manual
Reach “Fresh Flower of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD,
or (415) 239-3140.
Images courtesy of The John Henry Company
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