James H. Schutte
Plant Common Name
Hibiscus is a large genus consisting of more than 200 species of herbaceous plants, trees, and shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous. Most are native to the warm areas of the world, including the tropics, subtropics and warm-temperate regions. Chinese hibiscus is arguably the most widely planted and beloved of all tropical flowering shrubs.
Usually woody and variable in form, Hibiscus have simple leaves that are arranged alternately on the stem. They are often lobed with toothed edges and can have glossy or matte surfaces. Many Hibiscus bloom all year around. Their five-petaled flowers are large and showy, may be platter or funnel-shaped, and have protruding reproductive columns in the center. Flower color is extremely variable and multicolored blooms are common. The fruit is a large, dry, chambered capsule that bursts open to show lots of round, flattened, dark brown seeds.
Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is one of the most popular shrubs for tropical gardens because its breathtaking flowers are large, prolific and come in practically every color of the rainbow. Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is the common hardy hibiscus grown in temperate regions. It is a tall-growing deciduous shrub which produces an abundance of white, lavender-pink, red, or purple flowers. Other popular hibiscus include swamp rose-mallow Hibiscus moscheutos, cotton rosemallow Hibiscus mutabilis and roselle Hibiscus sabdariffa.
Culture and hardiness vary by species. Most require full sun or very bright light, well-drained, acid to neutral soil and regular applications of water. Overall, they grow best in full to partial sun and fertile loam with even moisture and good drainage.
Sandy Brown, Gray