Information & resources about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld
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Hibiscus

Hibiscus species, hybrids and relatives (Malvaviscus, Alyogyne)

Family: Malvaceae


The Hibiscus is familiar to everyone as being, along with the palm, essentially a "logo" for the tropics.

They are popular in Queensland gardens not only for their tropical look, but also their ease of growth (especially the older varieties), long flowering season through the warm months and utility as hedges and screens.

Most commonly cultivated here are Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cultivars or hybrids of H. rosa-sinensis with other species such as H. schizopetalus or H. arnottianus.

Malvaviscus is a relative with flowers like a partly-opened hibiscus. Old-fashioned Malvaviscus arboreus is easy and fast to grow. Could be used for informal screening in a large garden, but may be difficult to find in garden centres.

There are also the Australian native hibiscus and hibiscus relatives to explore. Gardeners in temperate climates can grow H. syriacus, although these aren't common in the warmer coastal and tropical regions of the state.

Did you know that Bunga raya, the five-petaled Hibiscus, is the national flower of Malaysia?



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Where to buy Hibiscus plants

In Queensland, you should be able to find some hibiscus plants for sale in most Garden Centres. For a larger selection, you may have to seek out a hibiscus nursery or tropicals specialist.

Garden shows can also be a source of more unusual plant varieties. Check this site's Events Diary for gardening events in Queensland.

If you operate a business (including online and mail order nurseries) supplying Hibiscus plants to the public in Queensland, you can advertise in this section. Information for advertisers.



Designing with Hibiscus

Hibiscus have an iconic flower that is, of course, suited to tropically-themed gardens. However, they can also be incorporatred into other designs fulfill more utilitarian functions.

If your interest is a traditional "English" or cottage style garden, remember that in spite of their floral associations, hibiscus are woody broadleaf shrubs. This makes them quite traditional in form compared to many other tropicals. Depending on the natural growth habit of the variety, they can be shaped and hedged, incorporated into a less formal shrubbery or screen or trained as a small tree. Stick with old fashioned types in the softer whites, pinks and peach flowers colours for a more classic look.

If you have a particular colour scheme in mind, of course you can select a hibiscus to suit. Flower range from pure white through the yellows, oranges to the reds and pinks.

Hibiscus also have a strong association with old Queensland gardens, so they wouldn't be out of place adorning a traditional Queenslander style home regardless of the colour.

Most hibiscus have large flowers, which is useful to remember when selecting shrubs for the back of the garden that are usually going to be viewed from some distance, or the visually impaired.

Upright, tall varieties could make useful flowering screens (e.g 'Ruth Wilcox', 'Psyche', 'Swan Lake', 'Archeri'), just requiring occasional pruning to keep them tidy. Others could be formed into semi-formal hedges. Tight clipping will result in loss of flowers, but this wouldn't be such a problem with variegated cultivars which are primarily grown for their foliage effect, anyway.

Smaller-growing types include 'Ritzy" or 'Tiny Tina' could make smaller hedges or they could be incorporated into mixed beds with other shrubs and perennial flowers.

Compact varieties bred primarily for container culture in Europe and similar climates, where they perform as summer patio plants, are a recent international trend which is making its way to Australia. No doubt they will be useful in that situation here, too. Given we can grow them outdoors all year, we should be able to grow them in the ground also, but their suitability for that remains to be seen. If you want to try them, look out for the TradeWinds collection and the Flamenco series. The latter also claims to have longer-lasting flowers.



Some hibiscus varieties for general landscaping in Qld

The following are a selection of cultivars that are easily grown and widely available in Queensland. Generally, the flowers aren't as spectacular as some of the more highly developed exhibition types, but the bushes are tough and surprisingly drought tolerant once established. See links for additional information and pictures.

'Andersonii'
'D.J. O'Brien'
'Psyche'
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Psyche' The Florez Nursery blog, NSW
'Roseflake'
Pink, white and green variegated foliage. Red flowers.
hibiscus roseflake
Hibiscus 'Roseflake'
'Ruth Wilcox'
Known as 'Ruth Wilcox' in Australia, this pink-flowered cultivar is more correctly called 'Albo-Lacinatus'
'Mrs George Davis'
'Snow Queen'
White and green variegated foliage and red flowers. (Sometimes confused with H. rosa-sinensis 'Cooperi')
hibiscus 'Snow Queen' whole shrub in landscape hibiscus 'Snow Queen' detail
Hibiscus 'Snow Queen' doing quite well in spite of heavy root competition from golden cane palms. Detail at right. (Brisbane, November 2013)
'Swan Lake'
Known as 'White Dainty' in the USA.
Hibiscus sp. 'White Dainty' Pacific flora database of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, USA
'Tiny Tina'
'Wilder's White'
This is actually a different species Hibiscus arnottianus

Others

These may be available from time to time
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis "Cooperi" Checkered Hibiscus. Cal's Plant of the Week, University of Oklahoma
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Surfrider' The Florez Nursery blog, NSW
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Lollipop' The Florez Nursery blog, NSW
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Courier-Mail' The Florez Nursery blog, NSW
'Agnes Galt'
'Apple Blossom'
'Fijian White'
'Isobel Beard'
'Lady Cilento'
'Moonshot'
'White Kalakaua'
'Carnation' (also sold as 'Hiawatha')

New varieties may be be released onto the market from time to time. Some of these may have been developed in other parts of the world. Their performance in Queensland gardens may yet to be proven, but if you like to experiement, you might like to give them a go.


Other Species

Hibiscus schizopetalus

Hibiscus schizopetalus Missouri Botanical Garden
A Guide to Planting an African-American/African Focused Yard in Miami-Dade County University of Florida (PDF) Interesting note on H. schizopetalus.
Japanese Hibiscus Hibiscus schizopetalus. Flowers of India
Hibiscus schizopetalus Rooting Database, University of California, Davis
Hibiscus schizopetalus  Hibiscus schizopetalus
Hibiscus schizopetalus Acacia Ridge, April 2013
Hibiscus schizopetalus
Hibiscus schizopetalus Coopers Plains, March 2013

Hibiscus mutablis

Hardy Hibiscus (Including Confederate Rose, Hibiscus mutabilis)
Mighty Floozy: Rose of Sharon Article about Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon), South Korea's national flower At the Human Flower Project
Hibiscus mutablis, Rose of Sharon The Florez Nursery blog, NSW
Confederate Rose - Flower Color Walter Reeves, Georgia
Confederate Rose - Rooting Walter Reeves, Georgia

Hibiscus tiliaceus

Hibiscus tiliaceus The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus tiliaceus Pacific flora database of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, USA
Control of vegetative growth in hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA (PDF)
Sea hibiscus Hibiscus tiliaceus wildsingapore.com


Hibiscus heterophyllus

Hibiscus heterophyllus Australian Native Plants Society (Australia)
Hibiscus heterophyllus The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus heterophyllus Vent. PlantNET, National Herbarium of NSW
Hibiscus heterophyllus Vent. Atlas of Living Australia
Hibiscus heterophyllus Native hibiscus, native rosella. Brisbane Rainforest Action & Information Network
Native Hibiscus (Hibiscus heterophyllus subsp. heterophyllus) Pioneer Catchment & Landcare Group, Mackay
Hibiscus historic links Story about the native Hibiscus heterophyllus, at the Save or Riverfront Bushland (SORB) website (PDF)
Native Hibiscus (Hibiscus heterophyllus) At the "Grow Me Instead" website, Australia
Hibiscus heterophyllus Australia National Botanic Gardens
Hibiscus heterophyllus at the "A View from Yallaroo" website, NSW
Hibiscus heterophyllus - Vent. Plants For A Future
Hibiscus heterophyllus at hibiscus.org
Useful plants in the Malvaceae family Australian New Crops Newsletter Issue No 8, July 1997. (PDF))
Alyogyne huegelii Australian Native Plants Society (Australia)
Alyogyne: An Update Australian Native Plants Society (Australia)
Alyogyne huegelii at the "A View from Yallaroo" website, NSW
Alyogyne huegelii Australia National Botanic Gardens
Alygoyne huegelii The Australian Plants Society - SA Region Inc
Alyogyne huegellii 'West Coast Gem' Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
Alyogyne hakeifolia at the "A View from Yallaroo" website, NSW
The Alyogyne Page at malvaceae.info

Other Australian native Hibiscus, Alyogyne, Lagunaria species

hibiscus.orgA website devoted to Australian native hibiscus and hibiscus like species
Australian Native Hibiscus Australian Native Plants Society (Australia)
Velvet-leaved hibiscus (Hibiscus krichauffianus) The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, South Australia
Lagunaria queenslandica in "The Native Gardener", Newsletter of the Society for Growing Australian Plants Townsville Branch Inc. (PDF)

Malvaviscus

Malaviscus arboreus Sleeping Hibiscus The Florez Nursery blog, NSW
Sleeping Hibiscus Malvaviscus arboreus. Flowers of India
Malvaviscus penduliflorus (M. arboreus var. penduliflorus) Pacific flora database of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, USA
Turk's Cap, Wax Mallow Malvaviscus arboreus. Online Manual of Subtropical Landscaping Plants, Palm Beach Community College, Florida

Hibiscus syriacus

This group is better suited to temperate climates than the classic tropical hibiscus and is not common in Queensland. If you live in a cool area and want to find out more, you'll find plenty of information online via a web search.
Hibiscus syriacus This reproduction of a 1941 article includes information on the history of this plant in cultivation. Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University

Hibiscus acetosella

Hibiscus acetosella North Carolina State University
Hibiscus acetosella Garden Adventures
Hibiscus acetosella University of Wisconsin-Extension Master Gardener Program

Other Hibiscus around the world

NB: The non-native species may be difficult to find in Australia, but somelinks have been included for the sake of interest.
Hibiscus diversifolius The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus forsteri The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus geranioides The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus krichauffianus The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus macilwraithensis The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus meraukensis The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus macilwraithensis (Macrostelia) James Cook University, Qld
Hibiscus normanii The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus peralbus The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus propulsator The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Hibiscus tozerensis The Taxonomy Research & Information Network
Keola Donaghy: Native Hawaiian Plants Includes photos and notes on several Hibiscus species
Kauai white hibiscus (Hibiscus waimeae) University of Hawaii at Manoa (PDF)
Hibiscus waimeae subsp. waimeae Pacific flora database of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, USA
Hibiscus waimeae subsp. hannerae Pacific flora database of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, USA


Hibiscus
Hibiscus (unknown variety) Sunnybank Hills, August 2013
Hibiscus
Hibiscus (unknown variety) Sunnybank Hills, August 2013
Following the mild winter of 2013, these Hibiscus are already putting on plenty of new growth and flowers in mid-August.

Hibiscus Erinose MiteHibiscus Erinose Mite
Hibiscus Erinose Mite (Brisbane, May 2013)
Hibiscus flowers are produced with new growth
Flowers are produced with new growth. Brisbane, September 2013
Variegated Hibiscus
A variegated Hibiscus, probably 'Snow Queen'. The plain green shoots will eventually dominate the plant if not pruned out.
Hibiscus 'Ruth Wilcox'

Hibiscus 'Ruth Wilcox'

Hibiscus 'Ruth Wilcox'
'Ruth Wilcox' is a tall, single pink is common in Brisbane and has stood up well to our recent droughts, even in inhospitable locations like suburban footpaths (Sunnybank, Brisbane, December 2013)


More Online Information resources


Because of the popularity if Hibiscus throughout the world, there is plenty of good information online. Some key websites of interest to Queenslanders are:


Enthusiasts may be interested in Hibiscus Around the World, January 1964 (Letters to J.W. Staniford 1963-67 from Ross H. Gast reproduced at www.hibiscusworld.com), which contains some information about cultivars available in Qld in the 1960s.

Following are a sewlection of links to more international information. Note that some of the varieties referred to in these publications might not be available in Australia, and some of the other particular information (e.g. chemicals) may not be applicable here.
Hibiscus in Florida University of Florida
Tropical Hibiscus Cal's Plant of the Week, University of Oklahoma
Hibiscus - The Most Popular Florida Shrub Hendry County Extension Service, Univ Florida
Hibiscus Gardens Around the World by Hidden Valley Hibiscus. Includes a SEQld garden
Ornamental Hibiscus in Hawaii Reproduction of a 1913 publication from the Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station (PDF)
Hibiscus in Auckland Auckland Botanic Gardens
GRIN Species Records of Hibiscus Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN)
Hibiscus erinose mite Queensland Govt
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Pacific flora database of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, USA
Visual Symptoms of Plant Nutrient Deficiencies in Nursery and Landscape Plants University of Hawai'i at Manoa (Picture of iron deficiency in Hibiscus)
Molybdenum Deficiency in Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) A photograhic illustration. University of Florida NutDef Plant Nutrient Deficiency Database
Molybdenum Deficiency of Hibiscus Reproduction of a 1955 article from the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Rooting Database, University of California, Davis
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Landscape Plant Propagation Information, University of Florida
JE Ludick Hibiscus Hybridizer (A variety of cultural and breeding information provided) South Florida
The Cultural Potential of Hibiscus in Southern California Reproduction of a 1971 article. The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Response of Hibiscus to Organic Mulches Reproduction of a 1996 article, Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)
Field Grown Hibiscus Response to Nitrogen Rate Reproduction of a 1988 article, Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)
Oahu White Hibiscus (Hibiscus arnottianus) University of Hawaii at Manoa (PDF)
Hibiscus arnottianus Hawaiian Native Plant Propagation Database, University of Hawaii
Hibiscus arnottianus Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, California
Hibiscus arnottianus Pacific flora database of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, USA
Hibiscus arnottianus subsp. immaculatus Pacific flora database of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, USA

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