Flowers: Funnel-shaped, cluster of anthers and stigmas off a longer central column that extends beyond the flowers. Flowers usually have five petals, often separate and slightly reflexed. Many bright colors including red, yellow, pink, orange or white, often with a darker or different color in the throat.
Culture: Tolerates full sun when placed on the patio but performs better in southwest Missouri with some shade in late afternoon. Bring indoors before frost. Keep medium evenly moist, allowing to dry slightly between waterings. Water more often while flowering and less often when growth is slow. Fertilize regularly during the growing season.
Pests and problems: Mites, aphids, scale, mealybugs. Buds fall off if the environment is too cool or if temperatures fluctuate quickly as from drafts or from medium being too dry.
Uses: This is a shrub grown as a medium to large flowering potted plant. The plant is not responsive to photoperiod—flowering occurs best in high temperature and high light. May be kept shorter in home conditions by keeping pot-bound, almost as a bonsai. Deadhead regularly to promote blooming.
Other facts of interest: The Chinese used the sap of H. rosa-sinensis to stain shoes and dye women’s hair black. The plant was first introduced to Europe in 1731. The name Hibiscus may come from the Greek word for mallow, or after the bird ibis that occurs in marshy areas where this shrub grows naturally.
Cultivars: H. rosa-sinensis ‘Cooperi’ has red flowers and cream-colored variegation in the leaves.