HEAV­ENLY HIBIS­CUS

If it’s flower power you’re after then hibis­cus is for you. Here are some of the best

South African Garden and Home - - Contents -

Bold va­ri­eties that make an im­pact

Hibis­cus be­long to the Mal­vaceae or mal­low fam­ily, which boasts more than 2 000 species, in­clud­ing co­coa, cot­ton and okra – even baob­abs be­long to this fam­ily. You’ll find hibis­cus species all over the world – from tem­per­ate re­gions to the trop­ics. A num­ber of these have been care­fully bred to high­light their best char­ac­ter­is­tic – their gor­geous blooms.

HIBIS­CUS ROSA

SI­NEN­SIS (CHI­NESE ROSE OR HAWAI­IAN HIBIS­CUS)

Na­tive to South-East Asia and grow­ing up to 3m high, this is the species that springs to mind when think­ing of hibis­cus. Their huge sin­gle or dou­ble blooms come in an ar­ray of colours in­clud­ing deep pink, vi­brant red, sub­tle yel­low and sil­very white, while some va­ri­eties like ‘Snow Queen’ have var­ie­gated fo­liage. At their best in sub­trop­i­cal re­gions, they’ll sur­vive in colder ar­eas as long as they’re pro­tected from frost. Plant them in a sunny

po­si­tion, and for best re­sults, make sure they are fed and wa­tered reg­u­larly. If you have a warm, sunny pa­tio, you can grow hibis­cus in large pots. They pre­fer rich, well-com­posted soil that drains well. The f low­ers of Hibis­cus rosa-si­nen­sis are ed­i­ble and are of­ten used in sal­ads or made into a tea.

HIBIS­CUS SYRIACUS

(ROSE OF SHARON)

If you live in the frostier parts of South Africa, you can still grow hibis­cus as H. syriacus shrugs off the most se­vere win­ters. While its blooms may be smaller than those of H. rosa-si­nen­sis cul­ti­vars, they are far more pro­fuse. A rather slow-grow­ing, de­cid­u­ous shrub, it pro­duces its lux­u­ri­ant, large hol­ly­hock­like blooms through sum­mer and into au­tumn. While it prefers moist, well-drained, com­post-en­riched soil, it’s sur­pris­ingly adapt­able to var­i­ous soil types, pH lev­els, soil com­paction, drought, heavy prun­ing and even pol­lu­tion. In ad­di­tion, it grows hap­pily in most cli­matic re­gions as it’s able to cope with heat and hu­mid­ity. Syriacus make splen­did sub­jects in a mixed bor­der and shrub­bery.

HIBIS­CUS

MOSCHEUTOS (SWAMP ROSE MAL­LOW)

Hy­bridis­ers have been hard at work on this hardy species. One of the suc­cesses is the Luna se­ries. These dwarf cul­ti­vars thrive in full sun and rich, well-drain­ing soil and pre­fer it moist but not soggy. While the plants are rel­a­tively com­pact (just un­der a me­tre tall and about half a me­tre wide), the flow­ers av­er­age a whop­ping 20cm across. A well-branched, shrubby habit and f lorif­er­ous na­ture make them ideal for con­tain­ers and mixed bor­ders. Plant in a sunny area in com­post-en­riched soil and keep them well-wa­tered and fed through­out the warm months. Don’t be con­cerned if they die back in win­ter, they’ll bounce back once sum­mer re­turns.

Hibis­cus rosa-si­nen­sisgran­di­flora ‘Apollo’

H. syriacus ‘Ham­abo’

H. rosa-si­nen­sis ‘Snow Queen’

H. syriacus

H. rosa-si­nen­sis ‘The Path’

H. moscheutos Luna ‘Light Rose’

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