Hibiscus – the China rose

by M. Arjoca, vegetalshapes.com

Orange HibiscusHibiscus (Rosa sinensis), is a tropical and subtropical plant, native to China and East Asia. Her big, usually red flowers gave her the name “Rose”. She is the national flower of Malaysia and she is associated with the Hawaii islands where the tropical climate is ideal for her.
Hibiscus flowers last usually a day (sometimes two days) and even if they don’t have a scent, the hummingbirds are attracted to them. They are edible and you can make from them a tasty, diuretic tea or you can eat them in salads.
The flowers last a day but the plant makes many of them and you have the impression that she is always in bloom. The flowers have a single or many rows of petals and can be huge on hybrids, sometimes up to 25 cm (10'') in diameter. The colors vary from red to yellow and orange and there are many combinations of shades.
Hibiscus loves the light and can resist in sunny gardens, but also in semi-shaded ones. In warmer areas she grows also in open gardens. She blooms all year around, but during autumn and winter, when the amount of light decreases, the flowers production decreases too. Starting February a new growing/blooming season begins.
This plant comes from warmer areas and loves the warmth and the light, but resists very well to semi-shade too. In this case she will have just less flowers. In stead she can’t stand the cold and it is good to bring her inside before the first frost (if you keep her on terrace or in garden during summer). Also, you have to protect her from wind. Her flowers break very easily and sometimes when you pass near them, just a little touch will be enough to break them.
Hibiscus adapts to different types of soil, but prefers rich soil with pH 6.0 – 7.0, which will make her thrive and flourish. That’s why adding organic fertilizers is a good idea.
When it comes about watering, she prefers a slightly moist soil, but not a sloppy one. Generally, if you water her once every three days, it is ok, but that depends of how warm it is. Anyway, if you forget to water her she will show you this, leaning the leaves.
Hibiscus is a plant that can be easy grown in container. So, she is suited to containers garden. It is better if the container is rather large than too deep because the plant has bushy roots that grow rather horizontally than vertically. Of course don’t forget the flower pots plate for water drainage.
Red HibiscusHibiscus propagation can be very easy done through cut branches from a mature plant.
Use a cutting from a branch with a new growth. It must be thick as a pencil. Reduce it to 10 cm - 15 cm (4'' - 6'') length. Remove almost all leaves, letting just few of them. If these are too large, cut them in half. Don’t worry, you don’t hurt the twig. Actually, this way you help her to focus her energy in making the new roots. Make the cut at 45° angle (diagonal cut) under a node. The node is the place where the leaf joins the stem.
Take this twig and put it in a small pot full with soil or sand. Pay attention that the sand dries faster. You can put it also in a glass of water and before this you can treat the cut with some root hormones that stimulate the roots growth. If you don’t have these you can put in the same glass, together with the hibiscus cutting, a willow twig which has this kind of hormones.
Place the glass in a bright spot, but not under direct sunlight. After 1-2 months the new plant will have roots.
Hibiscus is a shrub that can grow to 4.5 m (14 ft) height, but if you don’t want her to reach this height, you can cut her stalk at the desired height. But this depends on us and is not mandatory. You can let her grow as a tree or as a bush.
The pruning is done from different motives: removing the old or suffering branches, keeping a certain shape, stimulating new branches and flowers. This operation must be done when there is no danger of frost because the new Pink Hibiscusgrowths can’t resist to low temperatures. Cut the branches about ½ cm above a node (the place where the leaf joins the stem). The new shoot will grow in the direction of the node and it will have flowers after about 3 months. This is an occasion to use the cuttings to obtain new plants.
Regarding the pests, the hibiscus can be attacked by aphids, whiteflies, mites, caterpillars, snails and slugs, leaf miners etc. That’s why you have to check her from time to time and when you want to buy a plant from store, choose one that has no spots, stains on leaves or insects around. If the plant is attacked by pest insects you can use organic insecticides to protect her.
Having this information, even if she is a little tree or a bush, your hibiscus will delight you with her wonderful flowers, if you give her the proper conditions to grow.

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