Hibiscus: Fashionistas of the Flower World
By Ama H.Vanniarachchy Ceylon Today Features
“Outside my window, as I write is a magnificent hibiscus with hundreds of blooms making a splendid splash of colour against the jungle.”
– William C. Heine, The Last Canadian
Hibiscus flowers are large, beautiful, and colourful. They come in different sizes and colours. Some are single petaled, while some are double petaled. Some petals have scallops while some are plain. In the vibrant world of flowers, Hibiscus was surely created by an impressionist, who is fearless and confident in using colours.
Hibiscus flowers come in a large range of colours starting from blood red, pale red, magenta, pink, pale pink, orange, pale orange to bright yellow, pale dull yellow, white, purple to mauve. There are about two three shades of these hues, and some flowers are two-toned. Isn’t it amazing? This is why I call them the fashionistas of the flower world.
I have sentimental emotional strings attached to this wonderful flower, related to my childhood. There were single petal red, double petal red, white and large magenta hibiscus plants always blooming with flowers at my grandparent’s garden.
As a child, I was extremely fond of the large magenta flower and the yellow pollen. Our cousins would pluck the double petaled red flowers and make a red watery paint from the petals. Hence, for me, Hibiscus is a gateway to my childhood memories. Hibiscus is also a herbal plant in indigenous medicine and in Ayurveda.
It is also used to make hibiscus tea and uses for many commercial purposes. Who wouldn’t like to have these vibrant fashionistas in their gardens? They are attractive to the human eye as well as to wildlife (butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds).
Once they start to bloom, it looks like some bright vibrant lanterns are hung from trees. So having them in your gardens is like having many benefits. As they know they are evergreen beauties and fashionistas, in general, the Hibiscus plant is demanding and needs your attention and care regularly. If attention and care are given, Hibiscus never disappoints the gardener. So, let’s take a look at how to plant Hibiscus and how to care for them.
What natural environment conditions do they love?
Hibiscus is a tropical plant and to grow well, it needs to plant in a tropical environment. If not, you can provide tropical environment conditions for the plant. The Hibiscus plant can also be grown in pots and also in a balcony garden. They can grow into shrubs depending on the space or can be controlled its growth by controlling the environmental conditions.
Where to grow them?
Hibiscus prefers a cosy fit for its roots. Therefore if growing in a container chose a smaller one in which the roots can be fitted tight. If you are growing them in the ground, make sure there are about 2-3 feet of space between two plants as Hibiscus tends to grow into shrubs.
What soil do they need?
Hibiscus loves excellent drainage. So if you are planting them in pots make sure they have holes in them. Gardening experts say that Hibiscus loves acidic soil, therefore miz some loam in the soil. The soil should be rich in nutrients. So you can use a fertiliser with potassium, to enhance blooming. There are different types of fertiliser in the market; liquid and dry. You can choose them depending on your convenience and follow the given instructions in the packets to use the fertiliser.
Sun or shade?
These tropical fashionistas love bright sunlight. They thrive well under the sun and need at least six hours of sunlight. But do not plant them in a place where it is sunny all day. Locate a palace where it is sunny for about six hours. The preferred temperature by hibiscus is warm and humid conditions.
How much water do they need?
As much as they love the sun, they love water too. Water them during the plant is in its blooming stage. When it is warm, water them daily. But make sure to check the soil. If it is wet and soggy, do not water. Hibiscus that are in pots, will need watering daily. “Blood-coloured bottlebrush trees and scarlet hibiscus looked too bright for this devastated world.” – Jane Wilson-Howarth, Snowfed Waters