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Botanical name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Common names: Chinese Hibiscus, Tropical Hibiscus, Rose of China, Shoeblackplant, Hawaiian hibiscus
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis commonly called Chinese Hibiscus, Tropical Hibiscus, Rose of China or Shoeblackplant is an ideal flowering plant on account of its large, ruffled, trumpet-shaped blooms which come in many vibrant colors.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The species name, 'rosa-sinensis', means 'rose of China', although the plant is not closely related to true roses, nor is it from China.
Tropical Hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia and is called, 'bunga raya', in Malay which can be translated as, 'great flower' or 'celebratory flower.'
Chinese Hibiscus is commonly called, 'Shoe Flower' because in Malaya and Indonesia, the flower petals were used to produce a black dye for polishing shoes.
Most Tropical Hibiscus grown nowadays are hybrids and cultivars of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis which is native to the warm, tropical regions of Asia and Pacific Islands.
Shoeblackplant is hardy in USDA Zones 10-12 where the temperatures do not go below -10C in winter.
Unlike the cold-hardy Hibiscus, in the colder climates, Tropical Hibiscus can only be grown in containers which can be taken inside during the harsh winter weather where they can be sheltered from frost. Do not move a plant that is in flower as it can shorten the flowering period.
Tropical Hibiscus is an evergreen shrub growing to a height of about 8-16 ft and 5-10 ft wide with 3 in. saw-edged glossy leaves.
With proper care, Rose of Chian will give you a succession of Hibiscus' papery flowers in early spring to late fall. They come in red, white, yellow , pink, orange, purple, peach and may be single, double or semi-double.
Chinese Hibiscus is widely cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical regions but it is not known in the wild, so its native distribution is uncertain though it is thought to be some part of tropical Asia and Pacific Islands.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has numerous varieties like Magic Moment, Bonjour, Cajun Cocktail, Cooperi which has variegated foliage among others.
Photo Credit: Shopee
Chinese Hibiscus thrives in bright light with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight, average warmth and humidity and consistently moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with fortnightly feeding during the growing season.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis requires repotting when it becomes root-bound and regular pruning to control growth, encourage bushy growth and promote blooming. Keep reading for more on the growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Chinese Hibiscus Plant grows best in bright light with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. It will not bloom if the light is not enough.
If the natural light indoors is not sufficient, you can instal a full spectrum grow light to supplement it.
For uniform growth, regular rotate the pot to ensure that the Rose of China receives light on all sides.
When grown outdoors, where the summers are very harsh, grow Tropical Hibiscus in a shaded spot to protect it from the hot afternoon sun which can cause scorching of the leaves.
Water Chinese Hibiscus Plant thoroughly during the growing season while allowing the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil consistently moist.
For container-grown Rose of China, do not allow the plant to sit in soggy soil. Ensure that the container has adequate drainage holes and that the soil is well-drained to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot.
Discard any excess water from the catch plate to prevent the soil from gettting soggy.
Avoid watering the Tropical Hibiscus with too cold water as it can lead to shock of this tropical plant which can result in leaf and flowerbud drop.
Reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is reduced at this time but do not let the soil dry out completely.
Chinese Hibiscus thrives in average warmth between 16-290C during the growing season. Keep it cool at about 150C during the dormancy period.
The container-grown Tropical Hibiscus should be brought indoors when the temperatures dip to 00C as Tropical Hibiscus cannot tolerate frost.
Indoors, keep the Rose of China away from cold and hot draughts to avoid sudden changes in the temperature as it can cause leaf and flowerbud drop in addition to reduced growth.
Hibiscus Plant has no need for high humidity, average humidity is ideal for this plant. However, indoors the air can get too dry in winter. To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier inorder for it to thrive.
Tropical Hibiscus is a heavy feeder which requires regular feeding to keep it healthy and blooming.
To promote flowering and healthy growth, feed Shoeblackplant with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season or apply a slow-release fertilizer every 8 weeks (early spring & late summer).
Do not feed Chinese Hibiscus during the cold season (winter) as growth is minimal at this time and it can lead to fertilizer burn.
The best soil for Tropical Hibiscus should be slightly acidic at PH 6.5 to 6.8, rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.
A soil with the following composition is ideal for Chinese Hibiscus; 30% multipurpose potting soil, 30% compost like vermicompost, 30% coco coir and 10% perlite.
If the PH is not within the recommended range, it should be ammended. If it is too acidic, add lime to the soil. If it is too alkaline, add soil sulphur. Allow a 2 weeks period for the soil to correct the PH.
Tropical Hibiscus requires warm soil conditions. To keep the soil warm in the cold season, apply a 2-3 in. mulch of dry vegetation on the soil surface but take care not to let the mulch come into contact with the stem to prevent rotting.
Repot Chinese Hibiscus at the beginning of the growing season (spring) when it becomes root-bound; check for roots growing through the drainage holes.
Select a pot 1 size larger than the current one and one that has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from becoming soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease.
Use a pot that is wider rather than a deeper one. A deeper pot will cause the plant to direct more energy to root development at the expense of flower production.
Inspect the roots and cut away dead roots. To control size, cut off a third of the roots during reppotting.
Outdoors, plant Chinese Hibiscus 12-15 ft apart, in full sun to light shade. However, protect the plant from harsh hot sunshine to prevent scorching of the leaves.
Where the summers are very hot, grow Rose of China in a shaded spot or in containers which can be easily moved to a shaded area when the sun is too hot.
Ensure that the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. Avoid heavy clay soils as they retain too much water which can lead to root-rot and death of the plant.
For optimum growth, keep the soil moist through out the growing season and do not allow it to dry out. Cut down on watering during the cold season as growth is reduced at this time.
Fertilize Tropical Hibiscus with a balance, fertilizer every 3 weeks during the growing season to enhance flowering.
Withhold fertilizer during the cold season as growth is reduced at this time and excess fertilizer can lead to fertilizer burn.
Pruning Chinese Hibiscus is easy. Remove dead flowers and leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy as well as minimize pest and disease infestations.
Pinch off the growing tips to encourage compact growth and prevent the plant from getting too huge.
In late winter or early spring, cut back the stems by half to rejuvenate growth and to keep the Tropical Hibiscus compact.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Chinese Hibiscus) can be propagated from stem-tip cuttings during the growing season (late spring or early summer).
Take a 4-5 stem-tip cuttings from a healthy Chinese Hibiscus plant. Ensure each cutting has at least 2-3 leaf nodes as new growth will arise from the leaf nodes.
Strip off the lower leaves from the lower end of the cutting and dip it in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting.
Carefully, insert the lower end of the cutting in moist, free-draining soil and place the set up in a warm, well-lit spot.
Maintain the soil moist through out until the new Tropical Hibiscus are well established after which routine care can begin.
Photo Credit: IndiaMart
Chinese Hibiscus Plant (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) problems indoors are leaf drop, yellowing and curling leaves, flowerbud drop, lack of blooms, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.
Leaf drop in Chinese Hibiscus is due to two possible causes. One possible cause is incorrect watering; either underwatering or overwatering.
Maintain the soil consistently moist but not soggy during the growing season and slightly moist in the cold season but never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.
In addition, ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil drains freely to prevent it from getting soggy.
The second possible cause of leaf loss in Tropical Hibiscus is sudden drop in temperature. Keep the plant away from cold draughts like windy doors and windows to maintain an average room temperature.
Flowerbud drop in Chinese Hibiscus is due to three possible causes. One possible cause of dropping flower buds is underwatering.
Keep the soil consistently moist during the growing season and slightly moist in the cold season but do not let the soil ball dry out completely.
The second possible cause of flowerbud drop in Tropical Hibiscus is underfeeding. Feed it every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.
The third possible cause of dropping flower buds in Shoeblackplant is sudden change in temperature. Protect the plant from cold draughts to maintain an average room temperature.
Curling leaves in Chinese Hibiscus is due to the indoor air being too dry (low humidity). Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to increase humidity or grow the plant in a bathroom and other moist areas in the home.
Tropical Hibiscus Plant yellowing and dropping leaves is due to too little light. Position the plant in a brighter spot as it grows best in bright light with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.
Lack of blooms in Chinese Hibiscus is caused by failure to give it the right growing conditions for blooming like light, water, warmth, fertilizer, soil among others. Read more on 10 Tips on How to Keep Tropical Hibiscus Blooming.
Common pests in Chinese Hibiscus are aphids and spider mites which attack the new growth from where they suck the plant sap. This causes the plant to become dehydrated and results in wilting.
Regularly inspect the Tropical Hibiscus underneath the leaves and in the growing tips for these pests and take timely control measures.
Treat the Rose of China with appropriate products like neem oil, insecticidal soap among others.
Chinese Hibiscus Plant (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is non-toxic to humans and pets according to ASPCA.