Hibiscus is a tropical plant that brings an exotic look to your garden. Hibiscus tree is one of the easiest to manage plant and give you beautiful tropical flowers year around. It can be planted on your front porches, back patios, and decks. The flowers of the plants attract hummingbirds and butterflies and give your property the look of a tropical paradise. Lets us know more details of hibiscus tree e.g. types, characteristics, methods of cultivation, maintenance procedures, etc
Hibiscus Tree: Types & Individual Characteristics
There are different types of Hibiscus Tree. But all types of hibiscus share common characteristics. They produce big colorful flowers. These flowers bloom in multiple colors such as white, pink, orange, purple, yellow and red. Another common characteristic is almost all of them bloom in later summer. Let’s know more details on some specific types
Native hibiscus is those that grow wild in the Continental United States. They can be found in 48 states of the United States. There are twenty-two species of Hibiscuses that grow wild in the Continental United States and considered as native hibiscus. Both Alaska and Nevada have no native hibiscus while Florida and Texas have the highest number of species. Most common native species is Hibiscus moscheutos which is found in 35 states.
Characteristics of Native Hibiscus:
- They can be perennial or annual
- evergreen or deciduous
- can be found in swamps, marshes in the east coast, or dry rocky areas in the west coast.
A few popular varieties of native hibiscus are given below:
- Hibiscus moscheutos
- Hibiscus syriacus
- swamp hibiscus
This is a quite large flower. When bloom, becomes 10 inches across and bright-red in color with a small, darker center. It can resist heat and humidity but should be kept away from areas that experience a lot of wind. The best place to plant it is in full sun or in partial shade. This variety looks amazing alongside ponds or streams and when placed in containers.
This variety comes with flowers that feature large, double-bloom petals in a beautiful lavender color and soft-yellow center. It grows as high as 12 feet long. This plant type deer-resistant and looks great as hedges or borders.
Swamp hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)
this type is a vigorous, sturdy, erect, woody-based perennial that typically grows 3-6′ tall and features showy, hollyhock-like, 5-petaled, bright scarlet red flowers (3-5″ diameter. Each flower comes with a prominent and showy center staminal column
How to grow native hibiscus?
There are over 300 species or types of Hibiscus plants. But not all of them are native to the United States. Swamp hibiscus (H. coccineus) and rose mallow (H. moscheutos) are native American plants. Below we have discussed how to grow a native hibiscus – Hibiscus moscheutos.
This plant grows well in U.S department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10. Hardiness zones 5 through 10 include city like Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago. Dallas, Denver. Plant hardiness zone map is the standard by gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location.
Hibiscus grows well in slightly acidic soil that has a pH between 6.5 and 6.8. before planting, determine your soil pH by testing it. In order to achieve optimum pH in soil, you can add amendments either to increase pH or decrease pH. Adding Pennington® Fast Acting Lime will increase pH while applying soil sulfur will decrease it. If you want to grow hibiscus in containers, use potting soil that drains well and that’s designed for acidic plants
Prior to planting, enrich the soil by amending it with homemade or bagged compost and Pennington® Earthworm Castings 1.5-0-0. According to a study conducted by the American Society for Horticultural Science found that hibiscus grown with worm compost grew bigger and had better blooms.
Enhance soil fertility and encourage profuse hibiscus blooms by adding Lilly Miller Lawn & Garden All Purpose Plant Food to the planting area.
Abundance of light
The best place to plant a hibiscus plant is a location that gets direct sunlight for five to six hours a day. They also grow in partial sunlight. For optimal growth, the plant requires full sun as much as possible.
Fertilizers to apply
Once hibiscus is firmly planted and new growth is visible, apply fertilizers like Alaska® Morbloom Fertilizer 0-10-10. Feed the plant with the fertilizer in every two weeks. This fertilizer is manufactured to promote blooming and vigorous root growth. In order to make sure that hibiscus receives essential nutrients, also fertilize monthly with Alaska® Pure Kelp Plant Food 0.13-0-0.60.
Flower & Foliage
Hibiscus moscheutos has showy, dinner-plate-sized, , hollyhock-like flowers. Each flower measures 4-6” diameter that has five overlapping white, creamy white or pink petals with reddish-purple to dark crimson bases which form a sharply contrasting central eye.
Each of them also features a prominent and showy central staminal column of white to pale yellow anthers. These flowers last only 1-2 days. But new flowers bloom each day in rapid succession between July o September. At height of blooming period, a large plant can produce up to 20 or more flowers a day.
The leaves of the Hibiscus moscheutos are alternate, broad-ovate to lanceolate (3-8” long) with toothed margins which are green above and white-hairy beneath. The leaves have 3-5 shallow lobes.
Care and Maintenance
Hibiscus tree care is not extensive. At the beginning of the planting, it requires regular watering, fertilizing. But when it is established, it will bloom in its own way. Below are a few essential maintenance procedures:
Keep the soil surrounding the plant moist but not soggy. In the first week of planting. Water daily. In the second week, water in every two days. After the second week, water twice a week. But if the weather becomes hot and dry, water every other day. Stop watering the foliage when irrigating hibiscus because wet foliage can lead to foliar diseases, such as mildew.
Prune to boost blooming
The longevity of hibiscus blooms only last a day before falling off the day. Remove spent blooms to keep the plant tidy. For plants that you grow outdoors in a mild climate, prune the shrub back by one-third in late winter or early spring. Remove crossing and dead branches.
Diseases & Pests
Hibiscus moscheutos is vulnerable to several pests and diseases. Insect pest can damage the plant in several ways. The damages include premature dropping of flowers, failure to bloom and thrive overall, holes in leaves and petals, and a gooey substance on plants and nearby surfaces.
Check the plant periodically for signs of pests and pest damage. Minor infestations can be removed with a strong spray of water. However, for recurring and severe infestations, you need powerful insect killer.
The plant can also be affected by leaf diseases including gray mold and downy and powdery mildew. Such disorders have symptoms white, gray or yellow splotches on leaves and can lead to moldy buds that fall off before blooming. If such symptoms appear, treat the plant with the right fungicide
Growing native hibiscus does not require a lot of effort to care for. It only needs certain conditions in order to thrive. Below are a few recommendations:
- Hibiscus blooms well in slightly acidic soil. If the soil of your garden is not acidic, make it acidic by adding peat moss.
- Place each plant two to three feet from each other.
- Hibiscus prefers to grow in moist soil. But soil also needs to be drained well. The best way to ensure that the plant gets optimum water is to use an irrigation that will drain out any excess water.
- Plant it where it is exposed to direct sunlight.
- The plant flourishes most between 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit mark, bring the plant indoors so that cold weather does not cause damage to the plant.
- Prune the plant to stimulate the budding process. Pruning also helps the plant thrive throughout the summer months.
The plant grows well in hardy zone 4. Alaska belongs to this zone.
Soil need to be well-draining and rich. And it needs to be moist in summer. The plant usually grows naturally near ditches and swamps. During the winter the root should not be moist. Add mulch to hold in moisture and keep it safe from late spring frosts.
Hardy hibiscus needs applying plenty of fertilizer. Apply organic fertilizer with plenty of phosphorus to boost blooms.
Flowers come in July and August. Each flower has a short lifetime. But they come in plenty.
This plant can be grown year round in zones 9-10. These ranges cover the city like New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, etc. This variety does not survive frost or heavy freeze.
Soil need to be rich and well-draining. Also, keep the soil moist, but do not waterlogged.
Fertilizer: This type requires regular feeding. Apply organic, liquid fertilizer.
Flowers come spring through fall. But blooming may slow in the heat of midsummer
In order to keep your tropical hibiscus over the winter, bring the plant indoors before night temperatures drop to 40s F. Keep it in a cool, bright spot. Slow down the frequency of watering, but do not discontinue.
Hardiness zone 10-12.
soil should be well-drained and slightly alkaline.
Apply fertilizer steadily during active growth. When watering daily, ( this happens at the beginning of planting) apply a water-soluble 17-5-24 fertilizer at a rate of 1/2 teaspoon per 1 gallon of water. When fertilizing weekly, mix I teaspoon per 1 gallon. Keep soil moist. Never fertilize in dry soil.
Hibiscus flowers bloom in several colors, such as white, pink, red, and bicolor. A good combination of these colors can make your garden look beautiful throughout the year.
this variety grows well in zones 5-9. It is used as a border or specimen shrub. It loses its leaves in winter. It comes in upright shape, fairly dense and has a coarse texture.
Full sun exposure with a little afternoon shade in hotter climates.
rich and well-draining
Does not require many nutrient feeds. But need regular watering.
This plant grows quickly. It can be pruned heavily in the early spring to encourage larger blossoms. This is a self-seeding gardening plant. It means the plant drop their pods, capsules or seeds at the end of the season. The seeds only require the soil they fall onto and utilizes natural seasonal changes to germinate and grow.
Another variation is braided hibiscus tree. You can grow this type in pot or container. In fact, it is a good idea not to put it in the ground. Because it will make a huge shrubby bush if you allow it.
Uses of hibiscus
Hibiscus plants and flowers have two main uses. One is home decorations and the other is treating different illness. Both hibiscus flowers and plant have medicinal properties. According to Ayurveda, ( a system of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent), the plant is good for increasing blood count people suffering from anemia. The Hibiscus flowers come in multiple varieties, shapes, sizes and colors. So, they are great for home decorations. Let’s explore various uses of hibiscus.
Hibiscus Bush & Trees can be used to make your home more attractive. They can be used as a hedge. When used as a hedge hibiscus need to kept trimmed for a semi-formal look. Hibiscus hedge will produce few blooms. But instead of a hedge, planting the plant in clumps looks most attractive.
While hibiscus can be planted to hedge your property, but they are not well suited for foundation planting. Because shrubs were installed along a house wall to hide the raised house foundations. But hibiscus is not shrub. Plant hibiscus tree along the sides or the back of a house where a tall plant is needed.
When planting hibiscus bush near the house, it is a good idea to cut them to two feet or less in height late each fall or cut back the older wood to the ground. Because if pruning is not done, there are many hibiscus varieties that grow too large for the average house. But pruning does not decrease bloom since hibiscus flowers on new wood.
Health benefits of hibiscus
Hibiscus flowers are not only beautiful and fragrant, they also offer a wide array of health benefits. One way to get these benefits is drinking hibiscus tea or sour tea. This is a dark red tea which is made from the flowers leaves calyces (centers) of hibiscus. Another way to get health benefits from hibiscus is to topically apply hibiscus oil. These two products can do great favors to your health. Below are nine possible health benefits of hibiscus:
- Rich in antioxidants
- Filled with nutrients
- Enhance immune system function
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers cholesterol
- Improved mood
- Helps in digestion
- Firms skin
- Contains mucilage
However, not all of those health benefits are scientifically proven. Here are a few health benefits of hibiscus that has scientific backing.
Lower blood pressure
a study was conducted in 1999 to find out the effects of hibiscus tea on individuals with moderate hypertension. Research findings showed that after 12 days of drinking hibiscus tea, systolic blood pressure in the experimental group was 11.2 percent lower, and diastolic blood pressure was 10.7 lower before they took part in the study.
Hibiscus tea help to lower LDL cholesterol. An experiment was carried out in this regard in 2007 and the result was published in the journal Nutrition. The researcher of the experiment concluded that hibiscus flower extracts can reduce serum cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic adults
Filled with nutrients
In addition to vitamin A and C, hibiscus tea contains several B-vitamins and other minerals like copper, zinc and a good amount of iron. This tea is a rich source of protein and omega-3 essential fatty acids. With vitamins and minerals, the hibiscus tea is a nutritional superstar.
Benefits without substantial evidence
People in many parts of the world use hibiscus for various purpose. But there is no good scientific evidence to support these traditional uses. Some of these are:
- In Nigeria, hibiscus plant has been used to treat constipation
- Fiber from H. sabdariffa variety has been used to fashion rope as a just alternative
- The plant is used extensively in Egypt to treat cardiac and nerve disease.
- In Iran, hibiscus tea is consumed for the treatment of hypertension.
- In Africa, The mucilaginous leaves are used as a topical emollient
- In Thailand, people drink roselle juice to quench thirst.
Hibiscus is safe for most people when consumed in food amounts. The possible side effects are given below:
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
you need to be careful drinking hibiscus tea during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Because no study conducted, that indicates the tea is safe at this particular time. Side effects of hibiscus are not so well known but might include temporary stomach upset or pain, gas, constipation, nausea, painful urination, headache, ringing in the ears, or shakiness.
Hibiscus may make difficult controlling blood sugar level during and after surgery. So, stop consuming hibiscus at least 2 weeks prior to a scheduled surgery.
Avoid hibiscus tea if you are allergic or sensitive to it or members of the Malvaceae plant family. If you have high or low blood pressure, drink sour or hibiscus tea with caution. Hibiscus might decrease blood sugar levels. So, dose of your diabetes medications might need to be adjusted by your physician.
Hibiscus tea may interfere with anti-malaria drugs and reduces their effectiveness. It may have interaction with supplements you are taking, even though, that supplement may be natural. The safe process is to tell your doctor about the supplement you are currently taking. The doctor then can check any potential side effects or interactions with any other medications or substances.
For high blood pressure, add 1.25-10 grams or 150 mg/kg of hibiscus to 150ml to500ml of boiling water to make hibiscus tea. The tea is steeped for 10-30 minutes. Then drink the tea one to three times daily for 2-6 weeks. This dosing has been approved by scientific research.
Beautiful hibiscus tree can make your home look exotic. It has plenty of variety and color. The beautiful fragrant flowers can be used to make tea. Drinking hibiscus tea can reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The tea has other health benefits. But those benefits are not proven scientifically yet. Plant a hibiscus tree today and reap many of its benefits.