Hibiscus is a species of annual and perennial flowering plants, shrubs and deciduous and evergreen trees. Dried hibiscus flowers can be used to make a herbal tea that is a mild diuretic and can lower blood pressure.
Hibicus has large, funnel-shaped flowers that range in colour between white, yellow, orange, pink, mauve and purple. The flowers measure between two to five inches across. The foliage is dark green when fully developed in the summer. In temperate regions, leaves start growing from late spring. Hibiscus shrubs can grow to over 10 feet.
Hibiscus grows in the wild in tropical and subtropical regions. The ancestors of today’s modern hibiscus hybrids came from the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar and Mauritius and Pacific Ocean islands such as Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii. Various species of hibiscus have been brought to Europe and eventually the Americas, since the 18th century. Nectar in hibiscus flowers attracts hummingbirds in tropical climates, whether in the wild or in a garden.
The plant flowers in summer and autumn while commercial growers supply numerous varieties of Hibiscus throughout the year. It is worth noting that Hibiscus should be brought inside for the winter in most European countries.
The hibiscus genus belongs to the Malvaceae family. This family has over 200 genera and 3,200 species, including over 300 species of hibiscus.
Hardwood cuttings grow well in a sheltered position in full sun. They prefer a well-drained alkaline or neutral soil. Cuttings should be staked as the plants produce fine roots at soil level that may break if the stalk is moved during a wind. Potted Hibiscus should stand outside during summer and be moved indoors during winter. When indoors, they require regular misting, and frequent pruning will help to shape the plant as well as encourage flowers.
Did You Know?
Different Hibiscus species are the national flowers of South Korea and Malaysia and the state flower of Hawaii and Puerto Rico. A red Hibiscus represents the Hindu goddess Kali. In Polynesia, dried fibres from Hibiscus bark are used to make grass skirts and wigs.