Hibiscus – A Tropical Kaleidoscope

hibiscus“A West Australian Growing Guide”


These bright and cheerful plants are tailor-made for our West Australian outdoor lifestyle. When the sun is keeping us warm and we’re enjoying the pool, a barbeque with family and friends on a balmy evening under the pergola, these tropical hibiscus are in full flower. They add colour and sparkle to the hot parts of the garden from October to May with their dazzling flowers and crisp deep green foliage. While we call them Hawaiian Hibiscus many of our varieties have been bred in W.A. The term Hawaiian style refers to the more tropical types as distinct from the old fashioned varieties such as Wilders White and Apple Blossom or the deciduous Syrian types. Some folks have become addicted to Hawaiian style hibiscus plants, growing even more tricky varieties in a quest for that perfect bloom. Well there is plenty of scope for collectors as this selection shows. You don’t have to be a collector however to get pleasure from these spectacular shrubs. They are very easy to grow once you understand their requirements. With up to 9 months of flowering and an array of colours unequalled in the plant kingdom, Hawaiian style hibiscus can add razzle dazzle or a subtle fashion colour statement to your home.


How to grow Hibiscus to perfection in W.A.

Location, Location, Location, the same essentials as for buying real estate apply. Hibiscus like a full sun location. If planted in part shade they can still flourish but flower production may be reduced.

Effective drainage is essential. In clay soils aim to build raised beds or alternatively grow in pots or tubs. Hibiscus come in a range of sizes and there is quite a deal of diversity in growth habits. This means if you need a tall bushy plant to create a privacy screen, there are appropriate varieties. On the other hand if you want low growing shrubs to put below a window so they won’t blot out a view this too is possible. The variety guide will help you as we have listed the eventual size of the plant. Small means no higher than 1 metre, medium means 1 to 2 metres, tall means 2 metres plus. Try to avoid planting where there are tall trees nearby. Apart from the shade which reduces blooms, the root competition will adversely affect the growth of the bush.


Planting

Dig a hole at least twice the diameter oft the pot and slightly deeper. Mix this soil with organic matter in the proportion of 1 is to 1. Suitable soil improvers are – Groganic, Richpeat, sheep, cow or horse manure that’s been well matured (no longer has an offensive odour). When removing the Hibiscus from its pot try to disturb the roots as little as possible.

It’s recommended that you use no fertilisers in the planting hole because of the risk of burning the exposed roots. Once your plant shows sign of a successful transplant – say 2 or 3 weeks later, then you can apply a dressing of fertiliser to the soil surface and of course water it in well.

Growing On

Hibiscus are fast growing, free flowering plants that need plenty of food and water. They can exist without this level of care as can be seen in some of the older suburbs. However, you will see them in their true glory with a higher level of care.


Pruning

As Hibiscus produce their flowers on the ends of the shoots, the more shoot growth you can promote the greater the number of blooms you’ll get. Pruning your plant in early Spring will ensure a fresh flush of shoot growth for the warm months of the year. Unpruned Hibiscus become old, woody and unproductive much like roses. The method is simple, just remove one third of the total growth of the Plant. It’s a good idea to also prune off any branches that touch the ground as this helps to keep snails from moving up into the bush. In cooler areas of the South West where there is a danger of spring frosts It’s a good policy to delay pruning until early October. Exceptions to annual spring pruning are a few varieties that flower on older growth. These are the varieties Apple Blossom, Wilder’s White and Darcyii. All can be left until they become straggly, then it’s best to heavily cut back, say half of their growth. The deciduous Hibiscus Syriacus can be cut back to half of the growth in winter when the plants have lost their foliage.




Mulches

Mulching is one of the real secrets of success when it comes to growing Hibiscus in Perth’s Mediterranean climate and sandy soils. A 6 – 10 centimetre soil cover of organic material such as “Cornpost, Groganic, Richpeat or old (non smelly) animal manure will work wonders. One warning however is to avoid contact between the mulch and the main trunk of the Hibiscus as it often leads to collar rot, eventual ring barking and death of the plant.

Plant Foods

As we have mentioned, hibiscus are heavy feeders. We recommend the use of Grobrite All Purpose or Tropigro as both have a well balanced blend of nutrients with a slower release organic portion. They also contain trace elements to overcome likely deficiencies. These fertilisers should be applied once a month from September to May.




REDS/CERISE HAWAIIAN STYLE

BIG TANGO – (23-25cm) – diameter.

Single, tangerine red, edge of petals bright orange, occasionally some light orange spots. Good upright grower. Medium height.

CATAVKI – Tall – Single. Claret red, dazzling flower, 20 cm diameter, tough hardy plant to 2m.

CINDERELLA – Medium height, Single.

Raspberry red, blooms shaded white with deeper eye.

ESTRELLA RED .- Medium height, single velvety red verging on black. Large overlapped single, woody growth habit.

EUREKA – Medium height, Double, Large spectacular red, one of the Brandy Collection, Upright grower. Highly recommended.

GAYE SINGH – Medium height, Double.

Orange red, wary form free flowering. Beautiful foliage. Spectacular specimen.

MARJORIE CORAL – Medium height.

Pink with red eye. Large cartwheel overlapped single. Prolific. Ruffled and tufted. Bushy. Recommended.



VARIETIES

MOULIN ROUGE – Tall, Double. Deep cyclamen colour. Large foliage. WA. Introduction.

NORMAN RICHARDSON – Tall, Single 6″ bloom. Crushed strawberry colour. Large white centre with radiating veins. Dark green foliage.

SATU – Tall Double. Red with occasional white flecks. Fast grower, Medium textured bloom.

TANGO – Medium, Single. Tomato red halo, bright red around centre. Large flowers. Grows well.

THELMA BEN NELL – Tall, Cerise large overlapped 2 day bloom. Tall grower.

OLD FAVOURITES

CANDENII – Tall, Single. Scarlet with a deep burgundy red eye. An old variety known by many names such as Java Red, China Red etc. Recommended.

ISLAND EMPRESS – Tall Double Cerise. Very prolific and hardy.

SABRINA – Tall, double. Sport of Mrs G.

Davies. Similar strong growth. Red Flower.




PINKS

HAWAIIAN STYLE ALOHA – tow grower, Single. Bright orange large candy pink centre.

ALl UII – Medium height, Single.

Tomato red bloom splashed with lemon. Miniature overlapped trumpet shape. Prolific. Unusual.

BOOKIES BROLLIE – Tall, Single, (22 cm). Deep flamingo pink with white veins on a large area of mandarin, mottled old gold.

DELLS PRIDE – Medium height, single. (18-20 cm). Milky pink flower. Very good texture, nice foliage one of the best pinks.

DOROTHY BRADY – Tall, Double.

Pink to rose red, occasionally white streaks. Large double spectacular blooms, vigorous grower, highly recommended.

FLOWER GIRL – Medium height, single bright pink, fully overlapped.

FLAMINGO STAR – Medium height, Double. Multi-coloured rich pink with cream and yellow to apricot outer edges.

FOSTERS PINK – Medium height, Single. Available 1995. Large pale pink with mauve shading to the centre. Delicate and delightful variety.



Peter Butler

A passionate person known to be a serious “hobbiest” with a must for drinking only G.O.D Coffee (Ground On Demand). Just love “Making Websites Work”, hence “Smarter Websites” by converting dead dormant websites into profitable websites… one at a time if necessary!

8 thoughts on “Hibiscus – A Tropical Kaleidoscope”

  1. Hi. I was wondering what height the Apple Blossom will reach. I have just purchased 18 of them and thought that they reach 3m as the internet said. The tag however states that they reach 1.2m. Is there a dwarf variety of the Apple Blossom? Maybe I have bought the wrong ones?

  2. Gee, the Aplle Blossom in most climatres will certainly get to 3m, I’m not aware of a dwarf variety. A great hedging plant, I recommend you start hedging them when they’re about half the height you ant the ‘end result height’ you wnat the hedge to be. That way they’ll be easier to manage later. Hope that helps.

  3. your a rip off merchant. fancy trying to ride off the back of WA’s real garden gurus. your a fraud

  4. You don’t know a damn thing about me you tosser. I know a damn site more than one of the Garden Guru’s, pretty hard to beat Neville though. His knowledge has been built up over many years in the industry. Mate, I managed for the Waldeck group and managing garden centres and then onto running my own successful landscaping and garden maintenance business for over a decade. Settle down on the name throwing and I’ll retract my tosser statement.

  5. I have been chasing some hibiscus in yellow and orange shades – I have one Jayella and would love 10 more but cannot find a stockist in W.A.
    Do you know where I can purchase some please?
    Josephine
    Sorrento

  6. The above article is at least 30 to 40 years old and mostly irrelivant to modern cultivars and their needs. Peter you could have contacted the West Australian Hibiscus society and asked for up to date growing and hybrydising information. The cultivars named above are up to fifty years old and to my knowledge mostly unavailable in W.A. Anyone wanting to source newer cultivars can contact the above society. Eddy, Past president W.A.H.S.

  7. Hi Edddy,

    Thanks for that. The original article is out of date, it’s original source is the Passmore family of Blossoms Garden Centre fame. You’re more than welcome to post a link to the source you’re suggesting.

    Best Regards,

    Peter B Butler

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