The Chinese Hibiscus plant looks like a traditional houseplant, complete with showy blooms. Yet, beyond its beauty, this plant is also prized for its delicate flavor used in teas, jellies, and even relish. Both Hibiscus rosa-sinensis’ flowers and leaves can be used.
Chinese Hibiscus Appearance
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis grows to a height of between 3 to 6 feet (0.9 to 1.8 meters) tall. The leaves are oval to lance shaped, and green. The foliage has either toothed or lobed margins. The blooms are large and trumpet-shaped. Each flower has 5 petals and the total size of the bloom is between 3 to 5 inches (7.6 to 12.7 cm) wide. Bloom colors can be white, pink, red, blue, orange, or yellow. In warmer climates, such as California or Hawaii, the flowers can grow as large as dinner plates.
Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis Sunlight Requirements
Provide at least 6 hours of full sunlight per day from a South or South-west window. Adequate sunlight encourages more blooms. If you cannot provide that many hours of sunlight per day naturally, supplement the difference with an LED grow light.
Watering Your Hibiscus Flowers
Keep the soil moist but never soggy or root rot will develop. Water the Chinese Hibiscus plant deeply once the soil’s surface feels dry during the spring and summer months. Water until the moisture runs out the pot’s drainage holes. Once the soil finishes draining, empty the excess collected in the saucer to avoid it being reabsorbed by the soil or roots. In the fall and winter, let the soil dry out almost completely between waterings.
Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
The Chinese Hibiscus plant prefers a well-draining soil. Use a potting soil amended with perlite to improve drainage. The water should absorb quickly and not pool on the surface. Fertilize your Hibiscus plant to encourage bloom production. Feed once in the spring with a slow-release, houseplant fertilizer or once per week with a liquid fertilizer designed for blooming plants.
Temperature and Humidity Levels
Maintain temperatures for your Chinese Hibiscus plant between 55 to 70 Fahrenheit (12.7 to 21 Celsius). Avoid temperatures below 50F (10C) as the cold will kill the plant. Average household humidity of around 40 percent works well. For levels lower than this, boost humidity by placing a tray filled with small pebbles and water under the pot’s saucer.
Harvesting Your Hibiscus Flowers
Pick the blooms, as needed, once they are fully open. The flowers can be used fresh or dried for storage and later use. Placing the flowers in a dehydrator is an easy and fast way to dry the blooms. Make a quick and delicious tea by steeping either fresh or dried blooms in hot water.
Take a cutting of between 4 to 6 inches long from the Chinese Hibiscus plant in late spring. Coat the cut end with a rooting hormone and plant the stem cutting in a small pot filled with a light potting soil. Keep the pot out of direct sunlight but provide some indirect light. Keep the soil lightly moist and loosely cover the stem with plastic to help retain soil moisture. Care for the cutting, as described, until it has formed an established root system. Lightly pulling on the stem, and feeling resistance, indicates the presence of roots.
Common Pests and Diseases
Mealy bugs and fungus gnats are common pests to watch for with the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Remove the pests, without the need for harsh chemicals, by wiping them away with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Spraying the plant in the shower with the nozzle is another chemical-free way to remove the pests.
Root rot is a common disease caused by either overwatering your plant or using soil with poor drainage. The correct one, or both, of these leading causes to prevent further damage. Remove any affected foliage. For advanced cases of rot, inspect the root system and trim away any dark and mushy roots. Repot the Hibiscus plant in a clean pot with fresh soil to eliminate the soil bacteria causing the rot.
The Chinese Hibiscus plant produces big, beautiful blooms you will enjoy admiring each spring and summer. Along with their beauty, you’ll have the option to pick a few to make tasty delicacies like teas or jellies. This blooming houseplant makes a great addition to any gardener’s indoor plant collection.
Chinese Hibiscus FAQ
No, Chinese HIbiscus is not considered toxic to pets.
Chinese Hibiscus will grow outdoors in USDA zones 10 and 11.
Hibiscus tea is said to be anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants and vitamin C, and helps lower blood pressure.
When repotting Hibiscus plants, do not remove the soil attached to the root ball. Hibiscus have very tender roots and they should be handled as little as possible. Also, when increasing the pot size, only upgrade the pot one standard pot size to prevent overwatering your plant.
Use Hibiscus flowers in teas, jellies, desserts, and even tacos.