Growing Hibiscus

Growing Hibiscuses

Want to take a selfie with a bright flower sitting behind your ear and another garnishing your cocktail? Then you should plant a hibiscus today!

Summer is synonymous with alluring hibiscus flowers covering huge evergreen shrubs in temperate and subtropical gardens all over the country. Now, what will you do to have this extreme floral pleasure close by even if you don’t have the space for a huge shrub? The answer lies in a range of hibiscus hybrids bred in Denmark, and called HibisQs. They have godly names derived from Greek mythology, and are compact and bushy plants (mostly 2 x 1.5m) with lush and healthy foliage and a seemingly neverending flowering season. (The whole mouthful is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis longiflora.)

Every vividly coloured bloom, mostly having a contrasting, darker eye zone or throat, seems to be immediately replaced by another! So, double up on the patio or balcony romance by adding pots and tubs filled with dreamy hibiscus plants with flower colours so bright that you will feel like you have been carried off to a faraway tropical island paradise! These compact and very floriferous plants were especially bred for container growing, although they will do equally well in the garden! They like full sun but do well in semi-shade and can even be kept indoors as flowering house plants for short periods. 

Growth tips in a nutshell

• Plant a hibiscus in a sunny spot in compost-enriched soil with good drainage. Morning sun and afternoon shade is good, too. Although mature plants are fairly drought-hardy, they like regular watering once or twice a week in summer. Young plants in the garden and those in pots should be watered more often in hot weather.

• Garden plants can be fed in spring and mid-summer with slow-release fruit and flower fertiliser, while those in containers will appreciate a monthly dose of Bio Ganic or Nitrosol. Hibiscuses are hungry plants!

• Plants can be pruned fairly hard after flowering to encourage new bushy growth for a next flowering season.

• They can sometimes be prone to hibiscus stalk borer and may need to be treated as a precaution with a systemic insecticide such as Koinor as a soil drench.

Interesting facts about hibiscus

• Hibiscuses are the fifth most popular commercially grown flowering plant in the world, coming after roses, azaleas, carnations and orchids. They are especially loved in Germany as flowering potted plants as they start flowering from a very young stage.

• In Asia the flowers of H. rosa-sinensis are used as black shoe polish.

• The sap in those with red flowers was used in liqueur and as a dye to colour hair and eyebrows. • Dried flowers are used medicinally in the Orient.
• The Chinese use the flowers in pickles and to make tea, and in Hawaii the raw flowers are eaten to aid indigestion.

• In some cultures, placing a hibiscus flower behind your right earmarks you as single and looking for love. If it is placed behind the left ear, it means you are spoken for.

The Gardener