HIBISCUS 101

BASICS AND BEYOND

Tropical hibiscus, H. rosa-sinensis, come in basically four types of blooms. 

REGULAR BLOOMS 

SINGLE.  Five base petals.

Murray Delaughter

 

CRESTED SINGLE.  Five base petals with extra petals, called petaloids, extending from the top of the stamenal column.

Amanda Dubin

 

DOUBLE.  Five base petals with multiple petals extending from the base of the bloom.

Tropicana

 

CUP AND SAUCER DOUBLE.  Five base petals with petaloids extending from the base of the bloom, as a cup sitting in a saucer.

Monique Maria

 

For exhibition purposes, we have a classification for miniatures which encompasses any bloom 5" or smaller.
This relates to bloom size only, not plant size.  Miniatures also come in the same configurations as their
larger counterparts.
 

MINIATURE BLOOMS

SINGLEFive base petals.  Bloom is less than 5".

Erin Rachael

 

CRESTED SINGLE.Five base petals with petaloids at the end of the stamenal column.  Bloom is 3 inches.

Poodle Plant

 

DOUBLEFive base petals with multiple petaloids extending from the base of the bloom.  Bloom is 4 inches.

Brazilian Passion

 

CUP AND SAUCER DOUBLEFive base petals with petaloids extending from the base of the bloom, as a cup sitting in a saucer.  Bloom is 4 inches.

Miami Spice

 

CUTTINGS

One method of cloning hibiscus is to root cuttings.  Here is one simple method of propagating plants.

Cut a branch from your stock plant on an angle just above an outward and upward facing eye.  This will direct new growth in the proper direction.
Re-cut the cutting on a slant through an eye.  An "eye" is a leaf node.
Make cuttings about the length of a pencil or a little shorter.
Cut off most leaves, leaving one or two small ones at the top.  This helps transpire water during the rooting process. Cutting off leaves, rather than tearing or pinching, avoids stripping the bark which can invite fungus.
Scraping the bark to expose the cambium can enhance rooting.
Dip cut end in a rooting hormone such as Rootone.
Using a pencil, poke a hole in your potting medium.  This will keep from wiping the rooting hormone off of the cuttings. 
This pot is filled with very wet perlite.  Sand may also be used.
Stick prepared cuttings into pot about half way.
Crowd cuttings into one pot.  For some reason, hibiscus seem to root better with company.  Some of these cuttings are beginning to show new growth.
After filling a pot with cuttings, slip the pot into a clear plastic bag and close with a twist-tie.  Set the pot in a shady location with only filtered sun.
Here are some cuttings ready to pot into individual containers.  Don't worry about a little perlite clinging to roots.
Depending upon the season, cuttings will generally root in 6 to 8 weeks.  To remove cuttings from pot, gently dump out contents and use a slow stream of water to separate the roots.

HYBRIDIZING

Creating new cultivars (cultivated varieties) is very simple.  Ideal weather conditions to induce seeds
 to set include temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, high humidity with cloud cover. 
 Pollen should be golden yellow and light and fluffy.  Some cultivars are reluctant mamas and some
pollen is not potent.  Trial and error and building on the work of past hybridizers are effective
tools to success.

Apply the pollen from Pop to Mom's stamenal pads.  The pollen is the yellow, fluffy stuff at the end of the anthers along the stamen.  Mom's five pads are at the end of her stamenal column.
Any compatible hibiscus bloom can be mom or pop.

Romeo's pollen applied to Raspberry Swirl.

After about two or three days, the pollinated bloom will close and fall out of the calyx (the green pointed "thing" that holds the blossom. 
This seed pod is about four weeks old.  It grows in the calyx and looks something like a forming bud.  The tag hanging under the pod contains parentage information and date of cross.
This is a mature seed pod, about six to eight weeks old, about ready to harvest.  It has turned brown and is about to pop open.
This seed pod has already opened.  The mature seeds look like fuzzy BB's.  This pod is ready to harvest and the seeds may be planted or held for warmer weather.

ROOT PRUNING

Potted hibiscus can become seriously root bound after two or three years in the same pot.  Most will
benefit from root pruning.  Remember to prune a corresponding amount of top growth.

This plant has been in the same 12-inch pot for about three years.  The roots have grown around the shards placed in the bottom of the one-drain-hole clay pot and threaten to close the drainage, which will drown the plant.
Using a claw tool scrape away a layer of roots all around the root ball. 
Remove the shards from the bottom and trim off some of the roots. 
Replace the shards and repot with fresh potting mix.