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Basic Hibiscus Gardening

Posted by amped_out | Added on : April 30, 2010 05:31am | Viewed 1561 times | 0 Comments | This article is also in blooms and blooms

 

The genus Hibiscus contains over 200 different flowering plants. Also known as the rose mallow, the genus includes both annual and perennial plants, shrubs and trees. Two of the more popular varieties of the hibiscus include the scarlet rose mallow (Hibiscus coccineus) and rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus). Both plants do well in USDA Zones 5 through 8. The flowers can range in color from white to bright red, and the hibiscus has alternate leaves.

 

Many varieties of hibiscus are used around the world in herbal medicine, as a food product and as a natural shampoo.

 

Chose a site for planting that has good drainage, full sun and a source of steady water. Soil needs to be slightly alkaline and fertile.

 

Many countries claim a species of hibiscus as their national flower. Entire gardens can be planted in different species of hibiscus and each plant will have a unique and vibrant look. Hibiscus can bloom continuously from late spring to early fall, and can be used for an indoor arrangement of cut flowers. Some varieties of hibiscus can be container-grown.

 

Hibiscus varieties range from plants small enough to grow in a flowerpot on the desk to trees 6 to 8 feet tall. Hibiscus can be used in garden landscapes to highlight borders or create informal hedges.

 

Start the seed indoors 10 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant after all danger of frost has past. Plant the hibiscus by digging a hole twice the size of the root ball. Center the plant in the hole and cover. Water thoroughly to remove any air captured around the roots. Provided the soil is fertile, little or no fertilizer is needed. Mulch heavily around the base of the plant to help retain moisture, but keep the mulch approximately 3 inches from the trunk of the plant.

 

Prune the hibiscus during the winter to encourage growth the following year. Use a liquid insecticide soap to spray the plants for its common adversaries: ants and aphids, spider mites, white fly and mealy bugs. Should a fertilizer be needed, small amounts of a balanced blend with trace minerals should be used. The hibiscus plant should be protected from wind and ice during the winter months. This can be accomplished by the use of blankets or burlap.

 

One method of cloning hibiscus is to root cuttings. Here is one simple method of propagating plants: Cut a branch from your stock plant on an angle just above an outward and upward facing eye. This will direct new growth in the proper direction. Re-cut the cutting on a slant through an eye. An "eye" is a leaf node. Make cuttings about the length of a pencil or a little shorter. Cut off most leaves, leaving one or two small ones at the top. This helps transpire water during the rooting process. Cutting off leaves, rather than tearing or pinching, avoids stripping the bark which can invite fungus. Scraping the bark to expose the cambium can enhance rooting. Dip cut end in a rooting hormone such as Rootone. Using a pencil, poke a hole in your potting medium. This will keep from wiping the rooting hormone off of the cuttings. You may use very wet perlite. Sand may also be used. Stick prepared cuttings into pot about half way. Crowd cuttings into one pot. For some reason, hibiscus seems to root better with company. After filling a pot with cuttings, slip the pot into a clear plastic bag and close with a twist-tie. Set the pot in a shady location with only filtered sun. Don't worry about a little perlite clinging to roots. Depending upon the season, cuttings will generally root in 6 to 8 weeks. To remove cuttings from pot, gently dump out contents and use a slow stream of water to separate the roots.

 

 

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