Hibiscus is a bushy tree that produces huge, colourful and trumpet-shaped flowers that can blossom for a long time.
These plants can be grown indoors or outdoors. When grown outdoors, their eye-catching flowers attract humming birds and butterflies into one’s garden.
Scientifically known as Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, these plants can also be referred as Chinese hibiscus, China rose, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow and shoe-black plant.
It is a species of tropical hibiscus that blossoms with many colours including red, orange, yellow, white and pink flowers.
The ornamental plants produce flowers that have single or double petals. The woody shrub grows to about 4.5 meters tall and can serve as good hedge plant.
Morgan Osiolo, a florist in Nyali, Mombasa says hibiscus need to be cared for and maintained in order to bring the best out of them.
Mr Osiolo adds that China rose propagates easily from stem tip cuttings and that the plant has a fast growth rate and watering them on the stipulated time will ensure they look greener and sparkling.
“China rose should be watered daily during the hot months, but once the weather cools, they only need less water and the soil should have good drainage because a lot of water can cause root rot hence killing the plant,” says Mr Osiolo, adding that during their flowering stage, these plants require a lot of water.
For the hibiscus grown indoors, Mr Osiolo says one should check the soil moisture each day by touching the top of the soil. If it feels dry, the plant needs to be watered but if it is dump the soil is wet enough. Putting mulch around the plant will also help to retain moisture and also provide protection for the roots.
Mr Osiolo says hibiscus plants need sunlight for at least half a day especially those planted indoors to enable them flower well. China rose plant also should be put in large containers or pots. One should consider re-potting to allow the plant grow taller.
“Being in pots or containers allows one to move the hibiscus plant to ideal locations and spaces,” Mr Osiolo adds.
The gardener says that removing old flowers before they form seed heads or pruning the plants back by one third after a flush of bloom is finished, facilitates re-blooming.
“Pruning will keep your hibiscus plants looking healthy and stimulate blooms. Remove all weak growth and any branches that are growing sideways. If the pinching is done just above an outside bud, the new growth will branch out into a desirable bush. Also prune dead branches,” he says.
Also one should remove yellow or dead leaves. In addition, one can dust the leaves of the indoor hibiscus if they appear dusty using a wet clean cotton cloth.
Mr Osiolo said aphids, white flies and spider mites are likely to attack the hibiscus plants and that one should check their plants weekly for any signs of infestation.
“These pests can be a problem for outdoor hibiscus plants although those grown indoors are not yet safe. In case of infestation, treat insects with insecticide as advised by an agro-vet,” the florist says.