Originating in Asia and the Pacific islands, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is Hawaii's state flower and the national flower of Malaysia. Thousands of colors and combinations of colors ( no true blue or black), some varieties have blossoms 2" in diameter and others, 10-12". Some with bushes that will only grow a foot in several years while others may grow to 15 feet if left undisturbed in the ground. Singles, doubles, some blooming almost every day, the variation in the tropical hibiscus family is astounding!
Real interest in Hawaii developed around the turn of the century. Some plants probably came from China and were crossed with native Hawaiian species. Interest spread to the U.S. mainland and Florida became a center for this interest.
Another strong area of organized interest in hibiscus is Australia. It is thought that they were introduced there in the early 1800s, but real interest was sparked later when 30 plants were imported from India for use in the landscaping of Brisbane by its city council. The northern parts of New Zealand also became involved in hibiscus culture.
The tropical hibiscus belongs to the Malvaceae or mallow family. Other relatives are the rose-of-sharon (shrubby althea), the hardy hibiscus grown in the north, okra, cotton, the Confederate Rose and quite a few others. Some types hibiscus have been used to make dyes and others have been used as food.
If in areas with frost, you can keep your favorite grafted hybrids in pots and bring inside. There are many gardeners who grow all their hibiscus in pots. These people may live in Texas or even Minnesota and Ontario and they find ways to successfully grow and enjoy the tropical hibiscus 12 months a year. Many of the non-grafted "garden varieties" will come back from the roots if a frost kills the upper plant, but these ARE tropical plants.
A variety of hybrids we love are the Cajun Hibiscus, which were developed by Dupont Nursery in Louisiana. Their blooms are stunning and with names like Cajun Cocktail, C'est Bon, City Slicker, Tsunami, and Red Beans & Rice, they are hard to pass up. The last four pictures on the right are Cajun Hibiscus hybrids.
We always has a large variety during the spring and early summer.
Type: Tropical Shrub
Exposure: Partial to Full sun.
Blooms: Will bloom 12 months out of the year if the weather is good.
Care: Fertilize; do not over water or flood the roots; will not tolerate freezing weather