All About Hibiscus
The hibiscus is commonly known in Asia as the shoe flower because it is used to polish shoes. The other names are sorrel, rose mallow and China rose. The plant belongs to Hibiscus Genus and Malvaceae family.
The hibiscus is an evergreen bush that is found commonly in warm and tropical regions. There are over two hundred species in this family.
The flowers of the hibiscus plant are large and attractive. The flowers do not have any scent however. There are a variety of colors ranging from bright red to light blue. People often graft plants to get flowers with double colors and increased number of petals.
The government of Malaysia has declared the hibiscus flower as its national flower. The people of Malaysia have high regard for this flower. The symbol of the flower is imprinted on Malaysian currency.
Indians treat the shoe flower with respect and offer it to the Goddess Kali. She is worshiped with red hibiscus flowers. It is believed that she likes these flower offerings and will grant wishes.
Hibiscus is used for making ayurvedic and herbal medicines. Ayurveda uses hibiscus parts like leaves, flowers and roots to cure headaches, swelling, menstrual cramps, hair care, colds, venereal disease, induce short term infertility and stimulate menstruation.
It is also used as a laxative. People use the hibiscus flowers to make chutneys, soups and curries. There are no serious side effects caused by hibiscus use.
Why Grow Hibiscus as Houseplants?
We all know houseplants beautify our homes, and create an ambience that makes us feel good. But research on houseplants has found that there are actual health benefits in growing plants in our houses - some obvious, and others not so obvious:
- Houseplants clean the air in our homes by filtering dust and absorbing contaminants out of the air.
- They act as sound barriers, absorbing sound waves and reducing noise levels.
- They increase humidity in the air, replacing some of the moisture sucked out by central heating and cooling.
- Houseplants decrease carbon dioxide levels and increase oxygen levels in the air.
- They provide an insulating effect that warms the house in winter and cools it in summer.
- Houseplants have actually been found to lift our mood, make us feel calmer and more optimistic. A sick person will tend to get well more quickly if surrounded by living plants.
- New studies have even shown that houseplants in our work space increase our creativity and productivity!
Add to all this the joy of growing houseplants that reward you with large, vivid, multi-colored flowers, and hibiscus will quickly zoom to the top of the list.
How To Care For Hibiscus Plants
Hibiscus are tropical plants that need light and, perhaps more importantly, warmth to thrive. They prefer moderate heat and to continue blooming must have a few hours of direct sunshine every day. Place your plant in a bright South or West facing window.
An Eastern window might also work. In winter watch out for cold drafts that can give hibiscus frostbite. In the winter you also need additional light. I use simple fluorescent bulbs, often referred to as low energy light, which screw into regular sockets.
For best effect, place the light as close to the plant as possible. In summer it is wise to protect the roots from excessive heat by using planters.
Temperatures for Growing Hibiscus
When you care for a hibiscus, you should remember that hibiscus flower best in temperatures between 60-90 F. (16-32 C.)and cannot tolerate temps below 32 F. (0 C.).
In the summer, your hibiscus plant can go outside, but once the weather starts to get near freezing, it’s time for you to bring your hibiscus indoors.
Hibiscus want loamy but not too heavy soil. Regular quality potting soil with added [leaf]compost is an ideal base. Personally I mix my own of 1/3 coarse peat, 1/3 composted bark and 1/3 composted [cow] manure mixed with leca and vermiculite.
Leca, sand or other filler should not make up more than 10% of the finished mix. The soil should be coarse rather than fine. Watch out for soil that is mainly fine peat, it tends to compact in the pots, resulting in badly aerated roots.
A growing hibiscus plant needs lots of nutrients in order to bloom well. In the summer, use a high any organic fertilizer. A slow release fertilizer once a month or you can add a high potassium compost to the soil. In the winter, you don’t need to fertilize at all.
These are the basics for how to care for hibiscus plants in your garden. As you can see, they are a easy maintenance, high impact flower that will make a garden in any part of the world look like a tropical paradise.
When hibiscus are in their blooming stage, they require large amounts of water. Your hibiscus will need daily watering in warm weather.
But once the weather cools, your hibiscus needs far less water, and too much water can kill it. In the winter, water your hibiscus only when the soil is dry to the touch.
Hibiscus have good root systems. Healthy roots are white to tan in color, crisp and plump. Replanting is usually carried out in spring, February-March. Often you can at that time observe roots poking out of the bottom of the pot through the drainage holes.
When the root ball has been carefully loosened and lifted out of the pot, it can at times be seen that the roots are wrapt around the inside of the pot. These roots must be loosened up properly and perhaps shortened. Completely cut away any dark brown and soft roots.
It doesn’t matter if some of the roots break off. A root pruning might have to be carried out if there is too much roots. Replant in a one size larger pot than before.
The best time for pruning hibiscus is August-October, but some practice spring pruning with good results. Pruning is carried out not only to get a more harmonious plant but also to stimulate budding as hibiscus flower on new shoots.
To create a good looking plant, try to establish 3-4 main branches. These should be sturdy and upright. Cut back 1/3 of the main branches and completely remove weak growth or sideways growing branches.
You might decide to root prune at the time of replanting. Never prune off more than 1/3 of the root mass. It is better to err on the careful side here.
The most common pest on hibiscus to benefit from a dry indoor environment is Spider Mites. The most effective way to get rid of them is showering the plant with lukewarm water, strong blast, at least once a week.
Make sure to clean the underside of the leaves. Daily water spraying may also be useful.
All hibiscus have yellow leaves now and then. A few yellow leaves usually only mean that those leaves are getting old and need replacing.
If your plant has many yellow leaves it is stressed. The most common causes of plant stress are under-watering, drastic environmental changes or pest invasions, especially spider mites.
Bud drop is often the result of drought or severe pest attacks. Some double flowering varieties are more prone to bud drop than other hybrids, why is unclear.
Attention! Hibiscus in bud should not be turned because then the buds almost invariably fall off. If the plant has buds, and turning of the plant is desired for more even growth, then it should not be twisted more than 1/4 turn each time.
Growing hibiscus is an easy way to add a tropical flair to your garden. When you know how to care for hibiscus plants, you will be rewarded with many years of lovely flowers.
It becomes very important to select the planters wisely according to available space, the plants we grow or the colours of one’s choice.
Buy ready to use nutrient rich soil:
In general use a soil-based compost placed over a generous layer of drainage material such as earthenware crocks, pebbles or gravel. Water and feed regularly, especially while plants are bearing flowers and fruit, when a high-potash fertilizer is recommended.
Buy Decorative Pebbles :
Decorate planters or garden landscapes with these decorative pebbles :
Using pebbles in a garden brings different colours and textures to the garden. Pebbles can also fill up otherwise empty space in the garden, leaving a visual that might be considered more interesting and aesthetic than simple dirt, soil or mulch.
Add a splash of beauty to balconies, patios, walls, fences & window sills with durable,light weight, Rotomolded planters.