Know your Hibiscus

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5 Dec 2019

Flamboyant chorus girls of summer deserve top billing for scandalous skirts of tropical colour. Those wanting to tone things down a bit have plenty of options.

Chinese Hibiscus

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

ID:  Large summer flowers in white, pink, yellow, orange etc, single or double, with a prominent yellow staminal column.

GROW:  These evergreen shrubs like warm, sunny positions with protection from strong winds.  Fertilise in spring and water regularly.  Prune hard at the end of winter.  Protect from beetles which eat holes in the flowers and leaves.


Confederate Rose

Hibiscus mutabilis

ID:  White, pink or red double or single autumn flowers, darker at base of staminal column, with large cordate leaves.

GROW:  As a small deciduous tree or spreading shrub, position it in full sun.  It copes well with frost. Prune hard in winter to remove spent flowers and fruit.  Fertilise in spring with flowering plant food.


Native Rosella

Hibiscus heterophyllus

ID:  Spring-summer flowers of white edged with pink, with a dark purple-red spot at the base of its anthers.  Narrow, prickly leaves.

GROW:  Full sun is the place for this tall evergreen shrub, preferably in warm and moist conditions.  Prune back by one third straight after --flowering unless you wish to harvest its edible fruits.


Rose of Sharon

Hibiscus syriacus

ID:  Flowering from summer to autumn, often with a darker contrasting colour beneath a cream stamina column.  Serrate leaves turn yellow in autumn before falling.

GROW:  Cool moist climates are ideal for this deciduous shrub, it’s frost tolerant so prune hard in winter and use some of these prunings to make cuttings.  Fertilise in spring.


Sea Hibiscus

Hibiscus tiliaceus

ID:  Heart-shaped leaves with yellow to bronze flowers in late spring through summer. 

GROW:  This native evergreen small tree tolerates wet feet and salt but not frost.  Feed lightly with native plant fertiliser.  Prune straight after flowering if a shrub-like form is desired.  Look for ‘Rubra’ with deep red foliage and pale yellow flowers.


Native Hibiscus

Alyogyne huegelii formerly known as Hibiscus huegelii

ID:  Usually mauve flowers however white and yellow forms are also known.   Flowering occurs mainly from spring to autumn, with spot flowering.

GROW:  This native shrub likes warm, sunny situations in freely draining soils for best results however it will tolerate part shade.  Prune long branches at the end of summer.


Coral Hibiscus

Hibiscus schizopetalus
ID:  Pendant pink-red frilly flowers with staminal columns that hang down, sporadically throughout the year.  They open in the morning and die that same night.

GROW:  This arching shrub is best suited to tropical locations in full sun to part shade, however it will tolerate some cold, drought and salt.  Prune sparingly once every 3 years.