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Hibiscus care

Latin name: Hibiscus

Hibiscus or rosemallow is one of the most diverse nation of the mallow family (Malvaceae) belonging to the dicots (Magnaliopsidas) with 1200 species, from which there are several ones planted as decorating plants because of their remarkable flowers. It originates from Asia. Some of its species are typical invasive plants, some are deployed by people all around the world. Most of the species live in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate areas, there are some of them which are perennials and annuals, woody and herbaceous, deciduous and evergreens as well.

Well-known species:

  • kenaf or Sida (Hibiscus cannabinus)
  • Hemp-leaved marshmallow (Hibiscus coccineus)
  • Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos)
  • Variegated Leaved Hibiscus (Hibiscus purpurea)
  • Chinese hibiscus, room hibiscus or rose mallow (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
  • Sudanese hibiscus, Rozelle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.)
  • Hanging coral hibiscus (Hibiscus schizopetalus or Hibiscus rosa-sinensis var. schizopetalus)
  • Confederate rose (Hibiscus mutabilis)
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
  • Flower-of-an-Hour (Hibiscus trionum)

Hibiscus is one of the most popular Mediterranean plants in our country, it can grow even 2 meters high. The hibiscus very showy plant, not just in your garden, but on the terrace, in the winter garden or in the hallway as well. Its large, simple or thick flowers and its vivid color range made it a very popular garden and indoor ornamental plant. The Hibiscus can reach even the one and a half meters height and if we provide the right conditions, it bloom throughout the year in our home. Its huge funnel-shaped flowers unfortunately bloom only for one or two days, but it compensates us with the plenty of flowers during the whole year. This nice Mediterranean plant has a plenty of colours, from white through pink and red, we can meet every variation.

Requirements and care:

Light requirements:

It likes the light, bright space and loves the summer sun. Keep the Hibiscus on a sunny or very bright place from spring to autumn. In your house, place it to a sunny window, but you can grow it also on the porch or in the winter garden. Hibiscus wintered in the flat should be gradually habituated to strong sunshine, otherwise its leaves can become burnt.

Heat requirements:

In summer, it likes 18 - 20°C. In May, after the frosts, we can place the plant outdoors too. Keep it on lower temperature of 10-12°C and on a bright place in winter. Don't keep the plant in a warm, heated room in winter, because it will hardly bloom or not at all. It does not tolerate the frost!

Watering requirements:

Many gardeners water the plant and fertilize it once a week. That may be enough, but with daily watering, nutritional supply of the plant is guaranteed. Its soil should always be wet. If the air is too dry, spray the plant with chlorine-free water. Water it more rarely in winter.

Further care:

It is recommended to cut it back once in spring and once in autumn. We can also shape it buy cutting. In the early spring, strongly cut back the wintered plant, in order to have abundance flowering in the next year as well. Hibiscus grow flowers only on the new canes. Cut back the young plant for denser branching. Always keep the first leaves on the outside of the branch, so the new sprouts will grow outwards.

Smaller plants can be transposed into bigger pots even every year, for that choose loose, good permeable potting soil. Soil mixture consisting compost and general potting soil or commercial B type potting soil is good for this plant. Bigger ones should be transposed only every two-three years, later only surface soil change should be done. For transplantation, always choose a pot which is only one size bigger, avoiding to let the plant grow only the roots, as it should have the energy for growing the sprouts as well.

The ideal soil for hibiscus is light and porous. It easily passes through the air and water, still maintaining some moisture as well. Mixture containing two parts soil, two parts peat and one part fine bark is recommended. If we use garden soil for container cultivation, improve its physical structure and ability of water and nutrient absorbing with adding peat, bark, compost, perlite and sand.

The plant can be kept not only in the garden, but in a cool, bright foreground or in a winter garden as well. Plant it into a nice, large tub, or if you would like to have real Mediterranean atmosphere in your home, choose a large, ceramic flower pot in the color of tiles. In Mediterranean countries, hibiscus is planted as hedge as well, we can meet this kind of solution in gardens or squares. It's worth trying in our garden as well.

The most important need of hibiscus is the regular fertilization from spring till autumn, and the spring and autumn pruning. The more we prune the plant, the more flower and enriched growth we will get.

Use only the commercially available plant nutrient and always read the label carefully. Dissolve the liquid or powder nutrient in water and put it to the surface of the soil. The granular supplies and tablets ensure the nutrient absorption of the plant gradually and smoothly, in the selected treatment period. Application of complex plant nutrients containing micro-elements as well has positive effect.

The healthy hibiscus plant has no rest periods, it can even flourish throughout the year. With consistent nutritional supply, the plant will keep growing beautiful flowers. If we decide to grow this tropical beauty in a container, we can avoid fighting against the nematodes and other pests, drought, frost and the lack of nutrients.

Propagation:

Garden hibiscus species can easily be propagated from seeds, as the insects can easily pollinate them outdoors. When you collect the seeds, leave them on a dry place and they can be sown in spring, the beginning of March. It's not difficult to grow the seeds but needs attention. Sowing is recommended to be done by 2-4 seeds in small pots and removing the weaker ones after they grow out. In the second year, they can already be transposed outdoors.

Indoor species are much more demanding. Propagating them is not so easy, as they are grown by breeding processes so their propagating ability has been reduced significantly. It is difficult to pollinate them and the seeds grow hardly as well. If you do manage to get seeds, than the process is the same as the garden plant method, the only difference is that these seedlings are sensitive to cold and drafts.

In most of the cases, the propagation is solved by sprout cuttings. That might be difficult, as the cut sprout part is not always able to strike root. We can try rooting it in sand, peat, water, but books recommend to use of helping hormones as well. In seed stores, usually rooting powders are available. Its use is not mandatory, but recommended if you want to achieve certain results. The most important thing is to separate the young sprout part, which is fully healthy. Remove the lower leaf or leaves and plant the sprout into moist peat or sand. The loose structure of soil is important, because rooting starts easier in that.

Cover the planted plants with foil and move them to a half-shaded place. Check the moisture continuously, because if the peat dries out, hard to win back its loose structure. If it successfully rooted, you should also pay attention to the pests.

Most common diseases, pests of the Hibiscus, main reasons of its destruction:

Because most of the hibiscus species are unfortunately attacked by lice and other pests, it's worth doing a prevention spraying in spring and autumn, in order to destroy the settled insects before hatching. A clove of garlic to the pot can also prevent the appearance of these unpleasant pests.
In spring, we can do wash spraying with nettle juice, which can be followed by the chemical treatment.

Occasionally, the leaves might turn yellow. That might be caused by under- or over watering, or a sudden change in temperature.

If the plant starts to fall its leaves, we can help the growing of the new leaves if we cut back the plant a little bit.

Sources:
http://hu.wikipedia.org/
http://www.kertvarazsmagazin.hu/
http://www.edenkert.hu/
http://knol.google.com/