Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hardy Hibiscus from Seed

Way, way back when I first started gardening (okay, March ’05), I made the long trek out to Amelia, OH for some plant divisions from my friend Robin. She gave me a hunk of bleeding heart and yarrow. During the tour of her yard, she pointed out a large, hardy hibiscus to me. I noticed that it was covered with seed pods, so, after asking her permission, I plucked a few.

The seeds had an amazing germination rate. As the season progressed, I moved the seedlings into pots, and then, in the fall, I planted the eight survivors in the candy cane (red, pink, and white) bed. Next season, true to their reputation, my hibiscus waited until almost June to emerge, while I fretted all the while. The plants emerged vigorously enough, but are still rather small, 3feet high and 1 foot wide. I didn’t expect blooms this year, but I was still envious when lushly blooming hibiscus appeared at the local greenhouses and mine remained vegetative. In August, however, I began to see flower buds on my own plants and I waited with bated breath for the first to open.

Because these are seed grown plants, and I have not seen the mother plant in bloom, the flower color was a mystery. Questioning Robin revealed that her plant has pink flowers. According to an internet search, the “wild-type” plants have flowers in shades of red, white, and pink. I was fairly sure that I would have blooms that fit with the bed’s color scheme, but I was a little wary of finding purple-pink blossoms. (I absolutely detest mauve flowers.) Thankfully, two of the plants have bloomed so far to reveal shades of pale pink, without a hint of purple.


The flowers are nice, but the plants have a long way to go before they create a substantial presence in the bed. I’m hoping that they’ll leap in the third year.


If you are not looking for a hardy hibiscus in designer colors, I recommend them as a perennial grown from seed. They were easy to grow and have required very little aftercare. I had to water them often while they were in the clay pots sitting in afternoon sun, but I’ve been able to completely neglect them after planting in the ground and morning sun. (I did have to stake two plants, but I’m not so sure that wasn’t the cats’ fault.) They are a great beginner plant for someone with a small budget and plenty of patience. Email me if you’d like some seed!

22 Comments:

Blogger Christine said...

It's like porcelain. What a beautiful color.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I AM LAUGHING AT YOUR COMMENT THAT YOU HOPE ITLEAPS BY THE THIRD YEAR. yOU KNOW HOW EASILY THOSE SEEDS GERMINATED AND GREW? THERE WILL BE HUNDREDS OF THEM ON YOUR PLANT NEXT YEAR. bY MY 3RD YEAR WITH A WILD HIBISCUS I WAS COMPLETELY OVER RUN. 7 FEET HIGH AND AS WIDE, OODLES OF VOLUNTEERS AND CANES MADE OF REBAR TO BE CUT TO THE GROUND YEARLY. I MOVED FROM THE HOUSE TO ESCAPE IT. NOT REALLY BUT i THINK iT WOULD TAKE A BACKHOE TO HAVE DUG IT UP. KEEP YOUR WITS ABOUT YOU OR IT WILL TAKE OVER!

11:35 AM  
Blogger Giddy said...

ok, I'm gonna go check the hibiscus I bought last year. It has come up, but I didn't think it was going to bloom. Stay tuned!

12:57 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

How funny that you're posting about your hibiscus suddenly blooming. Last year, I bought a beautiful little hibiscus plant, put it in the ground, and noticed with horror a few days later that it was comletely chewed to the ground. Then, to make matters worse, the whole plant turned brown, as if it knew it did not have any blooms or leaves left, and it just decided life was not worth living. So I pretty much gave up on it.

This spring, I examined the bed for my hibiscus quite often, and there was never any sign of it. Then last week, I went down to the bed to pull weeds, and lo and behold, what is this 2'-high plant with loads of dark pink buds about to bloom? My hibiscus!

It has been blooming every day since then, first one bloom, then two, now three. I am eager to see how many blooms I get at once before its season ends, but I am still amazed that the plant came back at all, after I was sure it was dead forever. I guess they don't call it "hardy" for nothing...

2:38 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

Wow, I wrote a book. Sorry ;)

2:38 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I agree with Anon. You will have seedlings, but that is a small price to pay, I think, for a plant you grew yourself.

And to Leah: I had one that got eaten to the ground for weeks before I discoverd the little leatherjacket catterpillars that were doing the damage. They just kept coming back. Keep an eye in the spring for these guys:

They live in the soil around the base of your plants.

Also I suspect that Leah's plant is one of this type.

While Kasmira's is the shrub form like this.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

If you want some other colors, I have the white hibiscus with the red centers that has seeds--I could pick you some seed pods and mail them to you. Let me know!

jenstclair at sff.net

I don't have the color you have, so I would love to swap. :) At the moment, I have two fancy reds, one pink with red center, one hot pink, four white with red centers, and three white and pink with red centers. Obviously I love hibiscuses. Hibiscii?

I also have non-hardy 'real' hibiscus plants, but they rarely set seeds.

6:20 AM  
Blogger Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

I`m enjoying your blog. Glad I found it!

tea
xo

8:52 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Jenn,
Do you have any hot pink seeds left?
I would love to have a few, I saw a
plant in that color last summer, and
no one was home, to ask where they
got the plant. I had never seen one
in that particular color.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We'd be interested in a few of the wild hibiscus seeds if you still have some available this year. If so, just email me so I can give you our address. Thanks, and we enjoyed viewing your blog.

-Dave and Karena
khuntwork@juno.com

7:30 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

if anyone has seeds i would love to give them a good home in colorado!

7:08 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

oops here is the email, tinajohnson2000@hotmail.com

7:12 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

when should seeds be planted? could they be started in pots now,kept inside over the winter and planted outside in the spring?

7:15 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

if anyone has any seeds i would be very happy to give them a good home in colorado! i bought my first hibiscus, pink blooms have shown up! now i can't wait until tomorrow to go and look for seed pods! when is the best time to start seeds? can you plant them now and keep them inside over the winter and then transplant in the spring?
thankyou.
tinajohnson2000@hotmail.com

7:17 PM  
Anonymous jody (chulazeke@aol.com) said...

Just wondering what you would do regarding the hardy hibiscus...
living in NY, I just received (late August) a jiffy pot full of 3" tall hardy hibiscus seedlings.
I am wondering whether to plant right in ground now or protect them somehow outdoors in the pot? It doesn't seem to right to bring them to winter indoors...any advice?

9:59 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Great to chat with hibiscus people. I have 2 plants. The oldest is 3 years. It almost 5 foot tall. It has white, light pink and dark pink flowers. I also have a plant with really deep pink or purple flowers.I was hoping to plant seed from them. I just wasn't sure how to go about it.

7:11 AM  
Anonymous ronda said...

I live in Missouri and just bought an older home with lots of flowers already growing. I have hardy hibiscus, red. Right now it has seed pods all over it and the canes look bad. Leaves are turning yellowish and ugly. After picking the seed pods, can I cut the canes off close to the ground or do the roots need them for food?

10:48 AM  
Blogger roserairie said...

I have a pink hardy hibiscus that I gathered the seed pods. I froze them for 3 weeks and took them out a couple days ago. I'm trying them a little more. But I'm not sure what the seeds are. Is it the brown thing in the middle of the pod. Or are the seeds in the brown thing?

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am new to cumputer i would like to know how to start hardy hibiscus seeds

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the person that was not sure where the seeds are: the seed pod is where the flowers were. The pod dries and becomes papery & brown, eventually opening to reveal sections where the seeds can be seen.
I read somewhere you're supposed to soak the seed overnight for easier germination. I just cut down some seed pods and will try to grow some myself!

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Sherry said...

I just found your blog: I planted hardy hibiscus 15 years ago after trying unsuccessfully to grow just plain old common hollyhocks along a storage shed wall. I finally gave up and tried hardy hibiscus. They thrived and each year delight us with their dinner plate blossoms Mine are dark, deep red, light pink and a darker pink. I absolutely adore the plant, so little care required. I do nothing except rake and clean out the beds in the spring. I leave the stems and seed pods on for the birds thru the winter. In spring the dried stems just pull out of the ground with a simple tug on them. They grow larger and have bigger blossoms each year. I was wondering though if anyone has had success with growing the seed after storing it for several seasons. I have picked the pods in the past to use in fall dried flower arrangements and was thinking of trying to plant some of the seed from them this fall. Has anyone ever tried that? Love the blog, will visit often. Sherry

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am just starting to try hardy hibiscus. Anyone that would be willing to donate some seeds in different colors could send them to: The Rev. Nancy Stanton, St. Andrews Anglican Church, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035. Thanks

1:34 PM  

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