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January 2008
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More about Hibiscus

Hibiscus, or rosemallow, is a large genus of about 200–220 species of flowering plants in the family Malvaceae, native to warm temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world. The genus includes both annual and perennial herbaceous plants, and woody shrubs and small trees.
How do you know whether you have a tropical Hibiscus ? If your hibiscus has glossy deep green leaves, 3-6″ flowers of red, pink, orange, yellow, double or single flowers, it is probably a TROPICAL hibiscus. While many common garden varieties have the 3-6″ blooms, many of the hybrid varieties of tropical hibiscus can have blooms around 10″ in diameter under ideal conditions. If you have a tropical hibiscus, remember it is a TROPICAL. They will not tolerate more than a night or two of light freezes. Even one hard freeze (below 25) could kill the plant. These plants are native to sunny, warm and usually humid tropical places.
If your hibiscus has dull medium green heart shaped leaves, dinner plate sized white, pink or red flowers with HUGE, bomb shaped buds (2-4″ in length!), it is a perennial, hardy hibiscus. Hardy hibiscus need very little care over the winter, they are root hardy to about zone 5 with no protection. They die to the ground each year.
Hibiscus do not like wet feet, but neither should they be allowed to dry out — especially in hot weather. Organic matter in the soil and mulch on top help to maintain a constant level of moisture in the summer. In pots or not, good drainage is very important!
They do like a lot of direct light, but under a blazing sun from dawn ’til dusk with temperatures in the 90s, 32+(C), many of these hybrids will reduce their blooming. A little shade during the heat of the day and they will reward you with more and larger blooms.
How to graft this species ? Some varieties will root easily in a medium like perlite using rooting hormones, while others are very difficult to root. Air-layering can also be used. Propagation of hybrids is usually done by grafting to a proven rootstock variety to assure vigor and to efficiently use the hybrids’ wood.

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