There are about 60 species of hibiscus indigenous to South Africa ranging from small perennials to trees of up to 5m tall. Some are quite showy and well worth growing. You’ll usually find them at nurseries specialising in indigenous plants. The two most widely available varieties are:
Hibiscus pedunculatus (pink mallow) A dainty shrub that grows wild from the Eastern Cape to Mpumalanga, it reaches 1–2m high. It has striking pink f lowers and is relatively fast growing, provided it’s planted in fertile, rich and well-draining soil and receives plenty of light. It’s easily propagated from seed and looks great in small groups placed towards the middle or back of a perennial bed and in pots.
Hibiscus calyphyllus (sun hibiscus) This is adorned with bright lemonyellow f lowers with deep red to black centres which attract birds and butterf lies. The blooms close each evening. It’s a relatively large shrub (up to 3m high) so give it some space. It will grow in pots, as long as the container is of a good size. While it prefers moist, hot summers it will tolerate some cold. In frosty gardens, place it in a warm, sheltered position with some protection through winter.