Information about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld
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.
In Queensland, you should be able to find some hibiscus plants for sale in most retail outlets, but the selection wil be very limited. For others, you might seek out a hibiscus nursery or tropicals specialist. Unfortunately, there aren't many places to buy a wide range anymore. If you want to start collecting, it would be worth keeping an eye out for interesting varieties in gardens and asking for cuttings. They're easy to strike.
Tropical hibiscus were discussed in greater detail in the 30-06-2023 edition of Get Results Gardening. If you garden in Australia, especially the warmer regions that allow you to grow tropical and subtropical plants, you will find plenty of other useful information in this weekly email publication. Find out how to get a free trial at calyx.com.au/getresultsgardening.html. In your request email, you can ask to be sent the 30-06-2023 edition containing the hibiscus article, as well (Australian residents only.)
Some hibiscus varieties for general landscaping in Qld
The following are a some 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. Over time, pictures will be added to help you choose varieties and help you identify hibiscus that you may have already growing in your garden, given most of the following are old, tried and tested varieties.
NB: these were all unlabelled specimens growing around Brisbane so the identification could potentially be wrong in some cases, considering that available pictures for comparioson are often quite poor and there are hundreds of hibiscus cultivars in the world. Part of the reason for building this picture gallery is to make it easier to identify specimens growing in Qld gardens.
The following photographs are of a tall, red-flowered hibiscus which is quite common in old Brisbane gardens. It appears to be 'Archerii', a very early hybrid cultivar.
The leaves have bronze tones, which are stronger in winter. Very common landscape variety in Brisbane.
'Andersonii' in late summer
'Andersonii' in mid winter
'Mrs George Davis'
'Mrs George Davis' ??
'Pride of Hankins'
An old variety still seen in old gardens
Hibiscus 'Pride of Hankins'
Pink, white and green variegated foliage. Red flowers.
Known as 'Ruth Wilcox' in Australia, this pink-flowered cultivar is more correctly called 'Albo-Lacinatus'. Common in the older suburbs of Brisbane.
Hibiscus 'Ruth Wilcox'
White and green variegated foliage and red flowers. (Sometimes confused with H. rosa-sinensis 'Cooperi')
Hibiscus 'Snow Queen'
Known as 'Dainty White' in the USA. It was discovered as a mutation from the less frequently seen 'Dainty Pink'.
Uncertain, but possibly 'White Kalakaua'
No photos yet, but here are some others that have been grown widely, at least in the past:
New varieties are also be released onto the market from time to time. Some of these may have been developed in other parts of the world, notably the "patio" hibiscus which are mainly grown in pots in cooler climates. Their performance in Queensland gardens is yet to be proven, but if you like to experiment, you might like to give them a go.
Hibiscus tiliaceus 'Rubra'
For gardeners in temperate climates Hibiscus syriacus is better suited to than the classic tropical hibiscus. It isn't grown much in Queensland, even though it can be grown in Brisbane. If you live in a cool area and want to find out more, you'll find plenty of information online via a web search.
Sleeping hibiscus. The flowers are like a pendulous hibiscus that doesn't fully open. Long lanky branches. An old fashioned plant not seen much now. Not to be confused with Malvaviscus arboreus
Sleeping hibiscus, Malvaviscus penduliflorus
More images will be added over time. However, due to the decline of online advertising and the rise of content appropriation by AI bots, there won't be much other content added to the website in the foreseeable future. High quality, in-depth information is now being directed towards the email publication (mini-magazine) Get Results Gardening. If you live in Australia and would like to see a copy of the 30-06-2023 edition, which contained an article about tropical hibiscus, ask for it in the body of your email message when you request a free trial. More information here: calyx.com.au/getresultsgardening.html
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