Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Table of Contents
 Variety list
 Landscape uses
 Soils and climate
 Preparation of soil
 Cultivation and fertilization
 Flower bud drop
 Other species

Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station - 467
Title: Hibiscus in Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00020471/00001
 Material Information
Title: Hibiscus in Florida
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Dickey, R. D
Publisher: Florida Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1958
Copyright Date: 1958
General Note: Florida Agricultural Extension Service bulletin 168
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00020471
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
    Front Matter
        Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Variety list
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Landscape uses
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Soils and climate
        Page 23
    Preparation of soil
        Page 24
    Cultivation and fertilization
        Page 25
        Page 26
    Flower bud drop
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Other species
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
Full Text

Bulletin 168 June 1958


Hibiscus in Florida

Horticulturist, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Fig. 1.-Young hibiscus plant (variety Apex) in heavy bloom.

James J. Love, Chairman, Quincy S. Kendrick Guernsey, Jacksonville
Ralph L. Miller, Orlando James D. Camp, Ft. Lauderdale
J. J. Daniel, Jacksonville J. B. Culpepper, Ph.D., Executive Director,
W. C. Gaither, Miami Tallahassee


Willard M. Fifield, M.S., Provost for
Agriculture 1
Marshall O. Watkins, D.P.A., Director
J. N. Busby, B.S.A., Assistant Director
Forrest E. Myers, M. Agr., Assistant to
the Director

J. Francis Cooper, M.S.A., Editor1
M. H. Sharpe, Ph.D., Assistant Editor
William G. Mitchell, M.A., Assistant Editor 1
Jack W. McAllister, B.S., Assistant Editor
K. S. McMullen, M. Agr., District Agent
F. S. Perry, M. Agr., District Agent
W. J. Platt, Jr., M.S.A., District Agent
C. W. Reaves, M.S.A., Dairy Husbandman
T. W. Sparks, B.S.A., Assistant Dairy
Howard B. Young, M.S.A., Asst. Extension
N. R. Mehrhof, M. Agr., Poultry Husband-
man 1
J. S. Moore, M.S.A., Poultryman
A. W. O'Steen, B.S.A., Supervisor Egg-Lay-
ing Test, Chipley
L. W. Kalch, B.S.A., Asst. Poultry Husband-
T. J. Cunha, Ph.D., Animal Industrialist 1
J. E. Pace, M.S.A., Animal Husbandman
R. L. Reddish, Ph.D., Associate Animal
K. L. Durrance, B.S.A., Assistant Animal
Thomas G. Herndon, M.S.A., Farm Forester
A. S. Jensen, B.S., Assistant Forester
H. G. Hamilton, Ph.D., Agricultural
Economist 1
E. W. Cake, Ph.D., Marketing Economist
R. A. Eastwood, Ph.D., Economist in
Clifford Alston, M.S.A., Farm & Home
Development Specialist
C. C. Moxley, Ph.D., Associate Economist
E. W. McElwee, Ph.D., Ornamental
Horticulturist 1
Fred P. Lawrence, M. Agr., Citriculturist
Jack T. McCown, M. Agr., Assistant
William H. Mathews, M. Agr., Assistant
R. W. White, Jr., M.S.A., Assistant
S. A. Rose, M.S., Assistant Ornamental
W. W. Brown, M. Agr., Boys' 4-H Agent
G. M. Godwin, M. Agr., Asst. Boys' 4-H
Club Agent

1 Cooperative, Other Divisions, U. of F.
In cooperation with U. S.

B. J. Allen, M. Agr., Asst. Boys' 4-H Club
T. C. Skinner, M. Agr., Agricultural
Saint Elmo Dowling, M.A., Assistant
Agricultural Engineer
A. M. Pettis, M.S.A., Assoc. Agricultural
John D. Haynie, B.S.A., Apiculturist
V. L. Johnson, Rodent Control Specialist2
J. Russell Henderson, M.S.A., Agronomist
S. L. Brothers, B.S.A., Assistant Agronomist
F. S. Jamison, Ph.D., Vegetable Crops
Specialist 1
Stanley E. Rosenberger, M. Agr., Assoc.
Marketing Spec. in Veg. Crops
J. D. Norton, M.S., Assistant Vegetable
Crop Specialist
Mason E. Marvel, M.S., Assistant Vegetable
Crop Specialist
James Montelaro, Ph.D., Associate Vegetable
Crops Specialist
James E. Brogdon, M. Agr., Entomologist
John H. Herbert, Jr., M.S.A., Assistant Soil
Granville C. Horn, Ph.D., Soils Specialist

Anna Mae Sikes, M.S., State Agent
Eunice Grady, M.S., Assistant to State HDA
Helen D. Holstein, M.A., District Agent
Mrs. Edith Y. Barrus, B.A., District Agent
Joyce Bevis, M.A., District Agent
Mrs. Bonnie J. Carter, B.S., Home Improve-
ment Specialist
Mrs. Gladys Kendall, B.A., Home Industries
and Marketing Specialist
Emily King, M. Ed., State Girls' 4-H Club
Anne Elizabeth Thompson, M. Ed., Asst.
State Girls' 4-H Club Agent
Alice L. Cromartie, M.S., Extension
Susan R. Christian, M.S., Assistant Nutr.
Farm & Home Development Spec.
Elizabeth Dickenson, M.A., Clothing and
Textile Specialist
Alma Warren, M.A., in L.S., Asst. Editor
and Visual Aids Specialist
Frances C. Cannon, M.S., Asst. Health
Education Specialist

Floy Britt, B.S.H.E., District Agent
J. A. Gresham, B.S.A., District Agent

Hibiscus in Florida


Page Page
Chinese hibiscus ........ ....... ..................... 3 Time of planting ......................................... 23
Varieties .................................................. ......... 4 Preparation of soil ...................................... 24
V variety list ..................... ....................... 13 Planting ...................................................... 24
Landscape uses ........................ ...................... 17 Cultivation and fertilization .................... 25
Propagation ................................................... 19 Flow er bud drop ........................................ 27
Soils and clim ate ......................................... 23 Other species .................................................. 29

The Malvaceae or mallow family is composed of a number of
genera familiar to many. The genus Malvaviscus contains the
red-flowered ornamental shrub called turks cap or waxmallow,
and the genus Althea has the well known hollyhock. A third
member of the family is the genus Hibiscus, from which the
cultivated hibiscus gets its name.
Several species or kinds of Hibiscus are grown in Florida
both for food and as ornamental plants. The only one of the
group which is commonly called by its generic name, however, is
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L., the common cultivated form known
generally as the Chinese hibiscus or rose of China (Fig. 1).

Chinese Hibiscus
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L., the Chinese hibiscus, is probably
the most popular and widely planted shrub in tropical areas of
the world. It is a native of China but came to us by way of
Hawaii and possibly other tropical countries. There is perhaps
no other flowering shrub in existence today that matches it in
range in size and shape of flowers and in the innumerable com-
binations and shades of color.
The Chinese hibiscus has been grown in Florida for many
years but with the introduction of new varieties, particularly
those in shades of yellow, its popularity has increased tre-
mendously until it is now one of the most widely planted shrubs
in the southern half of the peninsula.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The author expresses his thanks to those
individuals who contributed information helpful in the preparation of this
bulletin. Particular thanks are due the late Norman A. Reasoner for his
valuable assistance in compiling the variety list.
This bulletin was originally printed as Bulletin 467, Florida Agricultural
Experiment Station.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Present-day forms of hibiscus are very variable. Although
there is an almost unlimited variation observed in shades of
colors, there are only four primary colors in addition to white
which are concerned in the color pattern of the flowers, namely,
red, yellow, orange and purple. Petals vary in shape from linear
to almost round; some have wide bases and others very narrow
ones. They are also quite variable in width and length.
The leaves of different varieties are even more variable. All
forms are found from long and narrow to almost round, some


Fig. 2.-Flower and foliage of the Chinese hibiscus variety Psyche, an
old favorite. The petals are reflexed, with wavy edges showing H.
schizopetalus parentage.

Hibiscus in Florida

with entire margins and some with deeply lobed serrate margins.
Some are hairy and rough, others softly pubescent and others
smooth and shiny.
In size and habit of growth varieties range from low-growing
dwarf shrubs to large shrubs or small trees to 20 or more feet in
height. Some have whip-like growth while others are densely
covered with foliage throughout. The hibiscus is an evergeen,

Fig. 3.-Flower and foliage of a single-flowered Chinese hibiscus. The
flower is salver-form or saucer-shaped.

Florida Cooperative Extension

but some varieties have less leaves at certain seasons than others.
There are three general shapes assumed by hibiscus flowers.
The fringed hibiscus from East Africa, Hibiscus schizopetalus,
and all hybrids of this parent have more or less recurved petals
with wavy, scalloped edges (Fig. 2). In the vast majority of
varieties, which now number into the hundreds, the flower when
fully open is salver-formed or saucer-shaped (Fig. 3). The third
group, containing many of the newer varieties, has flowers that
remain funnel-shaped until they wilt (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4.-Flower of the Chinese hibiscus variety Glorious B. The flower
is funnel-shaped.

Nearly all hibiscus flowers open early in the morning and
begin to wilt in late afternoon. The great majority are one-day
bloomers, though a few varieties will retain their blossoms in
good condition two days. Blossoms usually last longer in cold
weather than during hot summer days. The blooming season
for most varieties is nearly year around; however, blossoms are
more plentiful during the period of most vigorous growth, which
is usually during late spring, summer and early fall.
Hibiscus flowers are becoming increasingly popular for use
in flower arrangements in the home. Flowers to be used in the

Hibiscus in Florida

Fig. 5.-Brilliantissimus (Single Scarlet) is probably the most widely
planted variety of Chinese hibiscus in Florida.

evening should be cut, just after they have opened, early in the
morning and kept in the refrigerator until time to use them.
No artificial key has been prepared for identifying varieties.
They are grouped for convenience on the basis of flower form
into single (Figs. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), semi-double (Fig. 8), and
double (Figs. 9, 10), and on the basis of color into white, pink,
red, salmon, orange, yellow, lavender to purplish and multi-

8 Florida Cooperative Extension

colored. Many varieties are difficult to place in any color group
because they are composed of shades of two or more colors.
Though many varieties are definitely single or double in form,
practically all gradations in between these groups are to be
found. The semi-double group is arbitrarily considered here as

Fig. 6.-Mrs. Earl Anthony is an excellent single yellow variety of
Chinese hibiscus.


i ,

-- "-3

Hibiscus in Florida 9

Fig. 7.-Flower and foliage of the Chinese hibiscus, Hendry Single Orange
(Hendry Y-11).

4 -



Fig. 8.-The variety Stella Lykes, an example of the semi-double group,
has petaloids on the staminal column.


t ~' (

Hibiscus in Florida

those varieties having flowers with a single row of true petals
(five) with petaloids on the staminal column (Fig. 8).
The growing interest in hibiscus during the past several
years has resulted in the development of many new varieties in
Florida and other states where they are grown and new varieties
have been brought in from Hawaii and other tropical countries.

-" L

9.-Flower and foliage of Flamingo Plume, an excellent double-
flowered Chinese hibiscus variety.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Fig. 10.-Flower and foliage of a double-flowered yellow variety of
Chinese hibiscus.
There is some confusion relative to the correct origin and name
of many varieties now in cultivation. Every attempt should be
made by nurserymen and others interested to discard those va-
rieties which do not merit propagation and to standardize the
names, as quickly as possible, of meritorious varieties.
All varieties of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and hybrids having this
species as one parent are considered here as Chinese hibiscus.
The need for standardization of varietal nomenclature is
now being filled to a considerable extent by official nomenclature
list of the American Hibiscus Society (1).1 It gives the origin
SItalic figures in parentheses refer to "List of References" on Page 31.

Hibiscus in Florida

and a brief description of the flowers of a large number of
varieties grown in Florida. This list also gives brief informa-
tion about the vigor of growth, foliage and growth habits of some
varieties. Descriptions of the varieties listed here have been
taken, for the most part, from this list. Some of the better
varieties for planting in Florida, representative of various
flower forms and color groups, are given below:
Variety List
1. Bride-Very large flowers. Apple-blossom pink, fading to
2. Ruth Wilcox (Purity)--Large, fragrant flowers. Pure white
with crimson staminal column.
3. Snow White-Large flowers. Pure white.
4. White Wings-Pure white, red fringed eye.
1. Agnes Gault-Very large flowers. Satiny pink.
2. Betty Chalk-Brilliant violet-pink.
3. Bridesmaid-Very large flowers. Brilliant light rose.
4. Carolyn Wilson-Deep rich pink. Sport of Helen Walker.
5. Dainty (La France)-Small flowered, profuse bloomer.
Satiny pink.
6. Eleanor Atherton-Very large ruffled petals. Light pink
with crimson eye.
7. Ethel M. Smith-Ruffled petals. Bright rose.
8. Helen Walker-Ruffled, overlapping petals. Light salmon
9. Miami Lady (called Painted Lady in Miami area)--Medium
to large flowers. Carmine pink, with white veining and
red eye.
10. Mrs. Mary Johnson-Very large flowers. Creamy pink with
a lighter eye.
11. Velvet Touch-Large flowers. Bright rose flecked with
1. Brilliantissimus (Single Scarlet)--Brilliant scarlet.
2. Eugenia Goldsmith-Medium-sized flowers. Light red.
3. Florida Sunset (Anderson No. 132)-Red with yellowish
4. Pearl Harbor-Dark scarlet, large lavender star in center.

Florida Cooperative Extension

5. Prince Takematsu-Very large flowers with thin, recurved
petals. Light scarlet.
6. Psyche-Small flowers with ruffled, reflexed petals. Very
dark red.
7. Valencia Flame-Petals strongly reflexed. Brilliant orange-
1. Betty Kersey-Golden-salmon. Sport of Mrs. Mary Johnson.
2. Eleanor Gartley (King of Tonga)-Bright salmon. Sport
of Agnes Gault.
3. Euterpe-Buff with reddish eye.
4. Fair Jeanette-Orange-salmon with white center and pink
at base of staminal column.
5. Mrs. Lowry (Rose Dawn)-Very large flowers with over-
lapping petals. Buff with light pink center.
1. Apex-Medium to large flowers. Orange-yellow with pink
veins and reddish pink center.
2. Connie Vereen-Very large flower. Apricot-yellow with
light center.
3. Entwistle Cross-Immense flat flowers. Light orange shad-
ing to bright carmine at center.
4. Hendry Single Orange (Hendry Y-11)-Golden orange.
5. Latin Rhythm-Swarthy wine color.
6. McIntyre-Large flowers. Reddish orange, white zone.
7. Neutrality-Brilliant orange-vermilion.
8. Perfection-Very large flowers. Orange and gold.
1. Buttercup-Clear yellow.
2. California Gold-Large flowers. Light yellow with pink eye.
3. Daisy Entwistle-Very large flowers. Yellow, flushed pink
with red eye.
4. Kilawiai-Bright chrome yellow with light pink markings
in throat.
5. Mandalay-Very large flowers. Yellow with large white
center and purplish pink eye.
6. Martha Olive Parnell-Large flat flowers with ruffled petals.
Rich gold, distinct carmine eye.
7. Mrs. Earl Anthony-Clear picric yellow.
8. Old Gold-Large flowers. Old gold shading to violet-rose

Hibiscus in Florida

9. Superba-Very large flowers. Yellow upon opening, changes
to golden yellow, with large white star in center.
10. Tongs Golden-Large flowers. Golden yellow.

1. Ann Baldwin-Light claret, petals with gold edges and tips.
2. Fig Leaf-Large flowers. Buff with purplish-pink to dark
purple center.
3. Glorious B-Large flowers. Brilliant burnt orange, with
glowing cadmium red throat.
4. Jungle Queen-Vivid dark orange, with maroon eye bor-
dered with lavender carmine.
5. Kama Puaa-Large flat flower. Fawn, with purplish-pink
6. Multicolor-Large flat flower. Yellow, pink and purple.
7. Red Gold-Large flowers. Golden, overlaid with brilliant
scarlet. From Hawaii.

1. Andersons No. 10-White flushed with pale pink. Tall, up-
right growing plant.
2. Baby Doll-Very large flowers. Ivory satin-white faintly
flushed pink in center.
3. Double Bride-Large flowers. Creamy white flushed pink.
4. Double White Hawaiian-Loose, irregular double flowers.
White, flushed pink in cool weather.
5. Helen Johnson-Large flowers. White, faint pinkish cast.

1. Columbia-Bright rose, color of the Columbia rose. Colors
deeper in cool weather.
2. Hurricania-Loose petals, bright pink.
3. Kona-Large flowers. Bright silver pink.
4. Mary Morgan-Very large flowers. Light pink.
5. Peachblow-Peach pink with dark maroon throat.
6. Sea Shell-Large flowers. Light shrimp pink.
7. Sub-Violaceous (American Beauty) (Double Pink)-Deep
rose, shaded violet.
1. Andersons Yellow Red-Light red with yellow tinge.
2. Double Spanish Red-Orange red.

Florida Cooperative Extension

3. John Paul Jones-Very large flowers, loose petals. Dark
4. Kalakaua (Burgundy, Monarch)-Very large flowers. Dark
wine red.
5. Lamberti (Double Blood Red)-Blood red.
6. Poinsettia-Dark velvety red.
7. Valencia Special-Light pinkish terra-cotta. The primary
petals are reflexed, the crinkly center petals stand up like
those of a double carnation.
1. Cavalier-Lavender-pink, shaded with cream.
2. Duchess-Large flowers. Yellow and pink.
3. Flamingo Plume-Flowers the color of flamingo plumage.
4. Florence Kuhn-Flamingo-pink sport of Hurricania.
1. Bruce Parnell-Very large flowers. Brilliant orange-red
with yellow undertone.
2. Charles James, Jr.-Basal petals reddish-orange, center 5-
parted, mingled reddish-orange and gold.
3. Douglas MacArthur-Orange.
4. Dr. J. G. Dupuis-Flowers very large. Brilliant light
orange-red overlaid with lighter tones.
5. Fleda Hughes-Very large flowers. Flowers 5-parted, light
mahogany with gold reverse on primary petals.
6. Jane Cowl-Orange sport of Peachblow.
7. Jigora-Large flowers. Orange with crimson and vermilion
at base of petals.
8. Sara De Shazo-Glowing reddish orange.
1. Crown of Bohemia-Very large flowers. Golden yellow,
shading to amber and bronze at the center.
2. George Anderson (Candlelight, Anderson No. 161)-
Medium-sized flowers. Golden yellow.
3. Hawaiian Golden-Large flowers. Bronze with light center.
4. Hilo Island-Pale yellow.
5. Mrs. James Hendry (Butterfly, Hendry No. 111)-Large,
fragrant flowers. Light yellow with white center.
6. Mrs. Thomas A. Edison-Yellow with peach-colored center
in morning, fading to clear yellow in afternoon.
7. Princess Margaret-Golden yellow, shading to white at base
of petals. Sport of Superba.

Hibiscus in Florida

8. Queen Esther-Pure yellow.
9. Sungold (Hendry No. 40)-Medium-sized flowers. Dark
gold with a darker center.
Lavender to Purplish
1. Dolores-Large flowers. Purplish with a dark center.
2. Myrna Loy-Lavender fading to bluish lavender with age.
1. Eddie-Multicolored yellow with red throat.
2. Golden Harvest-Two-toned orange-bronze.
3. Neapolitan-Large flowers. Light pink and white with yel-
low tipped petals.
4. Talisman (Mrs. W. W. White)-Medium-sized flowers.
Two-toned coloring similar to that of Talisman rose. Yel-
low to reddish orange.

1. Anna Hose-Large flowers. White, faint orchid shading.
2. Nan Patterson-Large flowers. True petals light cream,
shading to orchid in center, orchid veining. Cream petaloids
on staminal column.
3. Semi-Double Apricot (Anderson No. 315)-Petals and
petaloids pinkish-orange-apricot, with deeper veining.
4. Sharron Bell-Single row of true petals with petaloids on the
staminal column. Light claret with gold edges and tips on
the petals.
5. Stella Lykes-Medium-sized flowers. A single row of true
petals with petaloids on the staminal column. Orange salmon.
Landscape Uses
Hibiscus is one of the most popular ornamental shrubs for
landscape planting in Florida, in the areas where it is adapted.
Ease with which it can be grown, attractive evergreen foliage,
the long, almost continuous blooming season, quick recovery
when killed to the ground by cold and wide range in form and
color of the flowers are factors contributing to this popularity.
Hibiscus is excellent landscape material because it may be
used for a variety of purposes. It is used for foundation or base
plantings, which includes the use of columnar varieties such as
Dainty (La France), Lutea, Andersons No. 10 and Jane Withers
as "accent point" plants, as individual specimens or in groups
of two or more as "standards" for terrace or formal use, as one

Florida Cooperative Extension

of the elements in an informal shrubbery border (Fig. 11) and
as an informal flowering hedge.
When planting in groups or for a hedge, use varieties similar
in character of growth and appearance of leaves. Too much con-
trast will produce a very ragged and unpleasing effect. Varie-
gated-leaved varieties, such as Matensis and Cooperi, may be
effectively used in group plantings, however, to provide a pleasing
contrast. Dense-branching varieties such as Brilliantissimus
(Single Scarlet), Florida Sunset, Euterpe, Betty Chalk, Peach-
blow and Sub-Violaceous (American Beauty), are best for
hedges. The hibiscus should not be sheared to formal shape but
should be cut back just enough to keep the plants dense and well
While the plant itself is well adapted to full sun, some va-
rieties tend to fade their blossom color slightly when exposed to
direct sunlight and this should be taken into account when fitting
the various varieties into the landscape. As a rule the lighter
colored varieties, such as pink and yellow, fade more than the
reds and salmons in bright sunshine. This change in color is
not always attributable to sunlight alone. It has been observed
that the shade of color of some varieties may change somewhat
as the plant grows older, resulting sometimes in a darker flower
and sometimes in a lighter flower by the time the plant reaches
two or three years of age.

Fig. 11.-Hibiscus used as one of the elements

in a shrubbery border.

Hibiscus in Florida

There is an ever-increasing consciousness of the desirability
of organized community beautification programs in Florida. One
phase of such a program includes park, street and roadway plant-
ings. Hibiscus is excellent for this and can be used to advantage,
especially when combined with palms or other ornamental trees.

Hibiscus may be propagated by seeds, cuttings, air layering
or marcottage, division, budding and grafting.
Cuttings.-Most varieties of hibiscus can be readily propa-

Fig. 12.-Three popular hibiscus containers-empty oil can, cypress plant
box and clay flower pot.


Florida Cooperative Extension

gated by softwood cuttings. Tip cuttings of half-ripened wood,
taken from May through July, will usually give best results.
Cuttings will usually root in about six weeks and the plants pro-
duced from them will generally begin to flower in about nine
months. The leaf-bud cutting method is used for increasing
rare varieties where there is a shortage of propagating material.
It is now standard nursery procedure to grow the rooted cuttings
to salable size in containers such as pots, cypress boxes or in
1, 4 or 5 quart or larger cans (Fig. 12). They may be lined out
in the nursery row, however, and later handled as "balled and
burlapped" plants.
Air Layering or Marcottage.-Varieties that are difficult to
root by cuttings can usually be increased readily by air layering
or marcottage. Air layering may be done at any time during the
year but rooting takes place most readily during the spring and
summer months. A recently developed method, which involves
the use of a moisture-proof rubber plastic wrapper, has greatly
improved the ease and efficiency of this method of propagation.
Branches about / inch or larger in diameter are girdled at a
point approximately 12 to 18 inches below the tip, by removing a
strip of bark from 1/ to 1 inch long. A ball of moist sphagnum
moss 5 to 6 inches in length and 3 to 4 inches in diameter is
placed over the girdled area and wrapped with a sheet of mois-
tureproof rubber plastic wrapper and tied securely at each end
with either rubber bands or string (Fig. 13). Fasten a piece
of newspaper or wrapping paper loosely over the wrap to prevent
the sphagnum from over-heating and birds from picking holes
in the wrap. Roots form in the sphagnum moss usually within
six or eight weeks. The branch can then be cut off below where
the roots have formed and set as a new plant.
Rootstocks.-Many varieties are benefited by budding or
grafting to a vigorous, strong-growing rootstock. Some varieties
used as rootstocks are Brilliantissimus (Single Scarlet), Dainty
(La France), Euterpe, Pink Versi-color and Miami Lady, which
is one of the preferred rootstocks on the lower East Coast. Any
other variety that experience has shown is easy to root, is strong-
growing and tolerant to injury by root-knot and the root-rot
fungus, would be satisfactory as a rootstock.
The rootstock is propagated by cuttings which, when rooted,
are potted in cans or pots and are grafted or budded with the
desired variety when they have reached the proper stage. The
plants thus produced are grown to salable size in the original

Fig. 13.-Steps in making an air layer on a hibiscus branch, using a
moisture-proof rubber plastic wrapper. Top, branch girdled-the first step
in the operation. Middle, wrapper in place and moist sphagnum moss
placed over girdled area. Bottom, ends of wrap have been twisted tight
and tied with rubber bands, completing the operation.


~tfltY*o~d U.N 1994 OlE

Nv F661 STuoI-H. Pocii'r~ruir

Florida Cooperative Extension

containers. Both buds and grafts usually come into flower in the
fall if the operation is performed in the spring.
Budding.-Shield-budding is the method most used and has
given best results when performed in the spring; however, it
may be done at any time the bark will slip readily. An inverted-T
incision is made in the rootstock 2 to 3 inches from the ground.
The bud is cut in the form of a shield, about an inch long, and
inserted in the incision in the stock. It is tied in place with either
rubber budding strips or
budding tape (Fig. 14).
Grafting.-The meth-
ods of grafting most
generally used in propa-
gating hibiscus are whip-
grafting and the side-
Fig. 14. Shield-bud on
hibiscus tied in place with a
rubber band, left. Budding
knife, right.

Hibiscus in Florida

grafting. The whip-grafting has been most successful when
done during the spring months. More recently the side-graft,
as used on avocados, has proven promising. It has been most
successful when done during late spring and summer, but may
be done at any time. Use young, succulent understock the size
of a pencil or slightly larger. Make a long, sloping cut diagonally
down into the stock. Cut a wedge on the lower end of the
scion and insert it in the slot on the stock in such a way that
all of the cut portion is enclosed and the cambium of stock and
scion meet. Tie securely with a rubber band or soft waxed
string and cover with paraffin or grafting wax.
Take bud and graft wood from the current season's growth that
has hardened enough to require definite pressure to bend shoots.
Seed.-Because seed very seldom produce plants true to the
variety from which they came this method of propagation is not
generally recommended, except for those individuals interested
in developing new varieties. Plants grown from seed usually
require about 18 months for the production of blossoms.

Soils and Climate
The hibiscus is well adapted to a wide range of soil conditions.
It grows well on sand, muck, marl or rockland, if sufficient plant
food is provided. A physiological disorder, evidenced as a
chlorosis of the leaves, is common on hibiscus plants growing
on the calcareous soils of the coastal areas and is especially
troublesome on the limerock soils of the Miami-Homestead area.
The plant requires plenty of moisture for best growth but
should be planted only in well-drained locations.
The principal factor limiting the growing of hibiscus in
Florida is climate. Since the above-ground parts of the plant
are usually killed back by temperatures below 28 to 30 degrees
F., its use is generally restricted to the southern half of the
peninsula. In this general area there will be winters when
hibiscus will experience some cold injury. It is not dependable
landscape material in northern Florida, as it is frequently killed
to the ground. However, established plants usually come out
again in the spring and bloom on the new growth that summer.

Time of Planting
Most of the young hibiscus plants produced by nurseries or
the home gardener in Florida are grown in cans or pots, though
some are planted in the nursery row and later dug and moved

Florida Cooperative Extension

with a ball of earth about the roots. Handled either way, they
may be planted at any time during the year, if given proper care.

Preparation of the Soil
Proper preparation of the soil previous to planting will help
insure vigorous healthy plants and reduce the problem of after
care. Usually the location where the plants are to be set should
be prepared some time in advance of planting. Most sand and
marl soils are low in organic matter and hibiscus plants are
benefited by the addition of this material. Mark off the area
where the plant is to be set and spread from four to six inches of
compost, peat, leafmold or well-decomposed manure over it and
work in. A handful or two of commercial fertilizer may be added
to advantage and completes the preparation for planting.

Soil preparation should be completed prior to the receipt of
the plants so that planting can begin immediately upon their ar-
rival. In setting either container-grown or "balled and bur-
lapped" plants, dig a hole slightly larger than the ball of earth
about the roots in the prepared location. Set the plants at the
same depth they were in the containers or nursery row. This can
easily be done by first setting the container in the hole and then
adjusting the depth of the hole so that the surface of the soil in
the container is even with the ground level. Carefully remove
the plant from the container, taking care not to disturb the ball
of earth about the roots, and set it in the hole. Fill in around the
ball with the soil previously taken from the hole and water thor-
oughly. Follow the same procedure with balled plants. It is
not necessary to remove the burlap from about the ball; how-
ever, it should be cut away at the top of the ball or turned back
so that the ground line, which indicates the proper depth at which
the plant should be set, may more easily be determined.
Container-grown and balled plants usually require no prun-
ing at time of planting. Large plants growing in the nursery
may require some pruning, to compensate for loss of roots, if
moved during the summer months.
Leave a shallow basin around each plant to facilitate watering
later, if it is needed. It takes several months for newly trans-
planted plants to grow an extensive root system. Such plants
should be adequately watered during drought periods for several
months following transplanting. After a strong root system has

Hibiscus in Florida

developed the plants are better able to care for themselves during
droughts but should not be allowed to suffer for lack of water.

Cultivation and Fertilization
Hibiscus plants will usually present an attractive appearance
and bloom well if vigorous healthy growth is encouraged by
proper care, which includes cultivation and fertilization.
An area around the plant should be kept cultivated to reduce
competition from grass and weeds for moisture and plant food.
Lawn grass should not be allowed to encroach upon the cultivated
area. To prevent this, frequent edging will be necessary during
the growing season of the grass. The cultivated area should be
gradually enlarged as the plant increases in size.
Best results are obtained by making sure that an abundance
of plant food is present. This is best accomplished by the use of
both organic and commercial fertilizers.
Organic matter, an important ccrstitrue:t of the soil, is
usually low in the mineral soils of Florida and may become
further depleted in soils under cultivation. It is difficult to re-
place humus where it cannot be incorporated by turning t'-e soil.
Areas where ornamental plants, such as hibiscus, are growing
cannot be so worked. This makes it especially desirable to in-
corporate considerable amounts or organic matter in the soil
before planting and to keep the plants mulched.
The hibiscus is attacked by the root-knot nematode but is
classed as tolerant to its injury. Some varieties, however, show
the effects of nematode injury more than others. Susceptible
plants, such as hibiscus, grown under a mulch are less severely
injured than unmulched plants.
Hibiscus plants should be banked during the winter months
to protect the lower framework of the plant, in those areas of
the state where they are subject to cold injury. This is especially
necessary for grafted or budded plants; otherwise they may be
killed back below the bud or graft union and the top lost.
To promote and maintain healthy, vigorous growth, it is
usually necessary to fertilize regularly. For this purpose fertil-
izers containing from 4 to 6 percent nitrogen, 6 to 8 percent
phosphoric acid and 4 to 6 percent potash should be satisfactory.
The amount to apply will vary with the age of the plants, the
fertility of the soil and the quantity of organic matter supplied,
but may range from approximately one ounce for a small plant
to four pounds for a large plant per application. Newly set

Florida Cooperative Extension

plants may not require fertilizer the first season if the soil has
been properly prepared before planting, but, under some condi-
tions, it may be advisable to give them a light application of
fertilizer three or four months after planting. Periodic fertiliza-
tion should be given from the second season on. In the southern
half of the peninsula, where hibiscus grow practically the year
around, three applications per year should be given, the first in
late winter or early spring, the second in mid-summer and the
third in late summer or early fall.
The fertilizer may be applied broadcast over the surface of
the mulch and washed in with water from a hose. Applying the
fertilizer in punch bar holes probably gives a more efficient
utilization of the plant food but requires much more labor.
A nutritional disorder of hibiscus, evidenced as a chlorosis of
the leaves, is common on plants growing on calcareous soils of the
coastal areas; however, it also occurs on acid sandy soils. This
chlorosis is especially persistent and acute on hibiscus plants
growing on the limerock soils of the Miami-Homestead area.
In some cases, soil applications of manganese sulfate to
chlorotic hibiscus plants growing on alkaline sands have ma-
terially improved foliage conditions and seem worth trying.
The amount of manganese sulfate to apply will vary with severity
of symptoms and size of plants but will range from 1/8 to 1
pound per plant. On alkaline soils it is desirable to mix an equal
amount of sulfur with the manganese sulfate. The condition of
the plant will determine the need for further applications. Plants
growing on the limerock soils of the Miami-Homestead area,
however, generally do not respond to soil applications of manga-
nese sulfate. The cause of this malnutrition trouble is not
known, but past experience with other lime-induced chloroses
points to the beneficial effects obtained from the use of liberal
amounts of acid muck, peat or compost in preparing the soil for
planting and to the desirability of using an organic mulch. Also,
the use of soil acidifying materials, such as sulfur and aluminum
sulfate, in combination with micro-elements such as manganese,
iron, zinc and magnesium which, with the exception of mag-
nesium, are usually relatively unavailable to the plant under
these soil conditions, may be helpful in some cases.
A nutritional spray containing iron, manganese and zinc ap-
plied two or three times during the year has, in certain instances,
considerably improved the condition of chlorotic plants. The
iron-manganese-zinc-lime spray is prepared by dissolving 2

Hibiscus in Florida

ounces each of iron sulfate, manganese sulfate and zinc sulfate
in 21/ gallons of water. Then take 3 ounces of finely ground
hydrated lime, make into a paste with water and add to the
solution while stirring vigorously. Effectiveness of the spray
may be increased by adding a small amount of suitable spreader.
The mixture should be used immediately after it is made.

Flower Bud Drop
Under certain conditions some varieties of hibiscus either fail
to open or drop their flower buds. The degree to which this

Fig. 15.-Flower and foliage of the fringed hibiscus, Hibiscus schizopetalus.


e~~- /


Hibiscus in Florida

takes place is quite variable but, at times, it may noticeably re-
duce the flowering of affected varieties.
Plants that are unhealthy because of insect or nematode
attack or a deficiency of one or more of the plant food elements
may drop flower buds prematurely. Injury to unopened flower
buds by aphids and thrips can cause bud drop. Poor drainage or
excessive drought may cause plants to drop flower buds. The
shock of transplanting may cause plants to drop flower buds.
Flower bud drop appears to be a decided varietal character-
istic; that is, some varieties under the same growing conditions
will drop or fail to open flower buds while other varieties grow-
ing nearby consistently open their flowers.

Other Species of Hibiscus
The fringed hibiscus, Hibiscus schizopetalus Hook., which
came to us from East Africa, is a large evergreen shrub that re-
sembles the Chinese hibiscus in general appearance of foliage.
It differs from H. rosa-sinensis in that it has more slender, droop-
ing branches and pendulous flowers whose strongly reflexed
petals are beautifully fringed (Fig. 15). Coral is the variety
most planted. Numerous hybrids resulting from crossing the
fringed and Chinese hibiscus are in cultivation in Florida. This
species is climatically adapted to the same areas in the state and
is handled in the same manner as is the Chinese hibiscus.
Shrubalthea, or rose of sharon, Hibiscus syriacus L., is a
large deciduous shrub which is native to eastern Asia. It is
hardy in the northern states and is grown as far south as
northern Florida, where it is used to a limited extent as an
ornamental. The general appearance of the foliage and shape
of the flowers are similar to that of some varieties of the Chinese
hibiscus (Fig. 16). There are several varieties which give
flowers ranging in color from white through shades of pink, red,
purple and violet, in single and double forms. Hibiscus syriacus
has been crossed with H. rosa-sinensis and some of the resulting
progeny suggest the possibility of a new color group with flowers
which will have shades of lavender and purple. The shrubalthea
is susceptible to the root-knot nematode and is apparently more
, severely injured by it than is the Chinese hibiscus. It is de-
ciduous and should be planted during the winter months only.
Cottonrose or confederate rose, as it is often called, Hibiscus
mutabilis L., is also a native of China. It is a large evergreen
4-- Fig. 16.-Flowers and foliage of the shrubalthea, Hibiscus syriacus.

Florida Cooperative Extension

shrub or small tree. It has large, 3 to 5-lobed leaves and large
flowers which open white or pale pink in the morning but be-
come deep red by night. Like Chinese hibiscus, it is semi-hardy
and is climatically adapted to only the southern half of the state.
The linden hibiscus or mahoe, Hibiscus tiliaceus L., came to
us from the Hawaiian Islands, although it occurs scattered
throughout the Old World tropics, where it is native. It is a
small evergreen tree with large leathery leaves and hibiscus-like
yellow flowers (Fig. 17). It is tender and is climatically adapted
to extreme southern peninsular Florida and the Keys.
The common rosemallow, Hibiscus palustris L. (H. moscheutos
L.), and its hybrids are hardy and may be grown throughout
Florida. This native plant is a large herbaceous perennial to
eight feet in height. The leaves are usually not lobed but some-
times have small lobes or angles on shoulders, toothed and white-
tomentose underneath. Large hibiscus-like flowers are pro-
duced during the summer months. Several varieties are avail-
able which give flowers ranging in color from white and cream
through shades of pink and red, often with a red eye in the
throat. This plant is usually propagated by seed but may be
increased by division and cuttings.

Fig. 17-Flower and foliage of the linden hibiscus or mahoe,
Hibiscus tiliaceus.

Hibiscus in Florida

List of References

1. American Hibiscus Society official hibiscus list, pp. 135, 1955.
2. Bailey, L. H. The standard cyclopedia of horticulture. The Macmillan
Co. 1922.
3. Bailey, L. H. The manual of cultivated plants. The Macmillan Co.
4. Charles, Hoyt. A study of synonymy in Chinese hibiscus in Florida.
1950. Unpublished thesis Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Library.
5. Dickey, R. D. Flower bud drop of Chinese hibiscus. Fla. Florist and
Nurseryman 2: 8: 8. 1950.
6. Dunaway, Harry. Bud dropping in hibiscus. Tropical Homes and
Gardening 1: 11: 12. 1951.
7. Evans, Hugh. Hawaiian hibiscus. Home Gardening 7: 10: 235-236.
8. Fifield, W. M. Hibiscus, its place in Florida gardening. Ornamental
gardening in Florida-No. 56: 187-190. Mimeographed, Fla. Agr.
Exp. Sta. 1937.
9. Gast, Ross H. Improving the hibiscus. Fla. Florist and Nurseryman
2: 8: 4-6. 1950.
10. Gilbert, Minnie. New hibiscus, the garden's gay deceiver. Sun-Up
2: 8: 13, 33. 1947.
11. Goulding, Harry R. You can create new hibiscus blossoms. Floriland
1: 10: 4-5, 20. 1951.
12. Goulding, Harry R. Rooting hibiscus cuttings. Floriland 1: 11: 4-5,
21. 1951.
13. Goulding, Harry R. Try grafting hibiscus this easy method. Floriland
1: 12: 5-6. 1951.
14. Gregory, Luis E., and J. van Overbeck. An analysis of the process of
root formation on cuttings of a difficult-to-root hibiscus variety.
Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 46: 427-433. 1945.
15. Higbee, Harry A. Hibiscus hybridizing. Tropical Gardening 1: 6: 8.
16. Holmes, Jack 0. Hibiscus-new treasure for southern gardens. Home
Gardening. 9: 5: 100-101, 117. 1949.
17. Holmes, Jack O. Hibiscus the wonder flower in Florida. Sub Tropical
Gardening 4: 2: 3, 11. 1950.
18. James, M. O. Foot-rot of hibiscus reported in Louisiana. Tropical
Gardening 1: 7: 10. 1951.
19. McConnell, L. S. The hibiscus-its history, culture and uses. Tropical
Gardening 1: 1: 5, 20. 1950.
20. Nakasone, Henry Y., and Richard A. Hamilton. Four new hibiscus
varieties. Univ. Haw. Agr. Exp. Sta. Cir. 35. 1952.
21. Reasoner, N. A. The Florida hibiscus bulletin. Fourth Edition, Jan-
uary 1, 1952, Mimeographed. Filed Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Library.
22. Reasoner, N. A. The hibiscus in Florida. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.
61: 300-302. 1948.
23. Ruhl, Ralph. Proper planting deemed all-important for hibiscus.
Tropical Homes and Gardening 1: 12: 12. 1951.
24. Simpson, C. P. Ornamental gardening in Florida. J. J. Little and
Ives Company. 1926.

Florida Cooperative Extension

25. Thompson, L. K. New hibiscus varieties. Tropical Gardening 1:
5: 8. 1951.
26. Wilcox, E. V., and V. S. Holt. Ornamental hibiscus in Hawaii. Hawaii
Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 29. 1913.
27. Wilson, Harold. How to root hibiscus cuttings. Home Gardening 10:
5: 117, 119. 1950.
28. Wilson, Talmadge. Something about the early history of hibiscus in
Hawaii. Tropical Gardening 1: 8: 10. 1951.

(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida,
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. O. Watkins, Director

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