Hibiscus

¹The red hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian women.

A single flower, tucked behind the ear, is used to show the wearer’s availability for marriage.

Hibiscus

Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), is extensively used in paper-making.

In Cambodia, a cold beverage is prepared by steeping the petals in hot water, adding lime juice, sweetener,and water.

Dried hibiscus is edible, and is considered a delicacy in Mexico.

It’s a food plant for moths and butterflies and  if you don’t have a hedge, a bush or a standard somewhere in your landscape, you are probably the lone wolf or a rebel, refusing to jump on the Hibiscus bandwagon.

Every color of the rainbow is represented and they are a sure-fire way to add a tropical boost to your landscape.

Origin:  Asia

Mature Height: While dwarf varieties may only grow two to three feet tall, many varieties and species can attain heights of eight feet or more each growing season once established.  Check the mature height before you plant to make sure it won’t outgrow the space you want to put it in.  Hibiscus flower off of new growth so if you need to prune them, do this after cold or freeze danger is past.

Culture:  They are heavy feeders.  For best flowering, a sunny location and well-drained soil containing plenty of organic matter is prefered.  Water plants deeply and thoroughly, but allow some time between drenching on established plants.  Newly planted hibiscus will need more frequent watering, like other newly planted perennials.

Propagation: Hibiscus are easy to propagate by several methods, making them a common pass-along plant, especially since some popular types such as Confederate Rose can be difficult to find in stores.

Cuttings: Cuttings can be rooted at anytime that new growth is available, although rooting is usually quickest in spring. Start with pencil thick, five to six-inch long cuttings of firm new growth. Strip off lower leaves and insert the cutting in a mix of three parts sand and one part peat. Roots should form within four to five weeks. Once roots are formed plants can be moved into a larger container or transplanted to a permanent location.

Seeds: Seed can be sown indoors 12 weeks before the last spring frost. Soak seeds in very warm water for one hour before sowing. Seed can also be sown in place outdoors after the last expected frost date or fresh seed can be sown in fall. Collect seed for fall sowing once the papery seed capsules brown and start to split. Plants often bloom from seed in their first year and will often self seed in suitable soil conditions.

Problems:  Aphids love the new growth.  Insecticidal soap is a good remedy for aphids or whitefly but at the same time, you can kill beneficial insects such as lady bugs who feed on aphids.  Whitefly can sometimes be conquered by hitting the foliage with a burst of water from your hose.  Mealy bug can be treated by a spray of alcohol.

Leaf spots may be caused by several fungi.  Remove all infected foliage and debris.  Fungus is spread easily so clean up is important and remember if you use garden tools, to clean them up too.  Southern stem blight may occur.  To help prevent southern blight, keep mulch from touching the stems.

Yellow leaves may drop as a natural cycle of the plant.  Being an evergreen plant, nutrients are transferred to the new growth and the older foliage will yellow and fall.  Yellowing can also be caused by overfeeding, change in watering or improper chemical application.  If it is severe, there might be root damage.

Bud-drop can be caused by bugs or extreme differences in night and day temperatures.  If your plant doesn’t flower at all you may be using too much nitrogen which stimulates the foliage to grow at the cost of buds.

If your a real Hibiscus fan, the American Hibiscus Society headquarters is right down the road a piece (Venice, FL). Become a member or at least check out the website. Everything you ever wanted to know about Hibiscus is there.

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