The hibiscus is commonly known in Asia as the shoe flower because it is used to polish shoes. The other names are sorrel, rosemallow and China rose. Hibiscus flowers are the big showy blossoms that grow nearly everywhere in warm, tropical climes. Hibiscus flowers are busy members of the mallow family, there are hundreds of different hibiscus species. The hibiscus is an evergreen bush that is found commonly in warm and tropical regions. There are over two hundred species in this family. The flowers are large and brightly colored, shaped like a horn or trumpet, and some species will change color as they age. The pistil and stamens often protrude dramatically from the horn of the flower, adding to it's reputation as a showy blossom.The flowers do not have any scent however. Hibiscus flowers can be used for decoration, for paper, and as a food product.
There are a variety of colors ranging from bright red to light blue. People often graft plants to get flowers with double colors and increased number of petals.
The Chinese herbal remedies use hibiscus for various treatments. Chinese women make a dye out of flower extract and apply it to the eyebrows and the hair. The flowers are crushed and applied to the hair before taking a shower. This is believed to help remove dandruff and increase hair growth. The flower and leaf extract is mixed with herbal oil and sold.
Hibiscus is used for making ayurvedic and herbal medicines. Ayurveda uses hibiscus parts like leaves, flowers and roots to cure headaches, swelling, menstrual cramps, hair care, colds, venereal disease, induce short term infertility and stimulate menstruation. It is also used as a laxative. People use the hibiscus flowers to make chutneys, soups and curries.
For cooking hibiscus flowers are most commonly use in herbal teas. It has a reputation for a cooling affect on the body. The Pharoahs used hibiscus tea, and today it's still common as a toast in Egyptian weddings. The flowers have a tangy citrus flavor, to make the tea you'll need to boil hibiscus flowers for about 30 minutes, add sugar, and chill. If you're using the large red hibiscus flowers the tea will have a beautiful crimson color. Hibiscus tea is popular in cocktails in the Caribbean, and it can be used to enhance non-alcoholic fruit drinks. Hibiscus flowers can also be used in salads, as an edible garnish, and in candies. Hibiscus tea helps in reducing blood pressure. It can be included in the daily diet of high BP patients. It also helps in decreasing the cholesterol level. The antioxidants and high level of vitamin C in the hibiscus flower protects the body against diseases and gives the skin a special glow. It is also known for its diuretic properties.
There are no serious side effects caused by hibiscus use. Pregnant and lactating mothers should avoid hibiscus intake because it is known to stimulate menstruation. It is always safe to use home made herbal preparations of hibiscus.
But the most popular and conspicuous use for hibiscus flowers is decorative. Tucked behind a pretty girls ear, or set out as a decorative center piece, the large colorful blooms are ubiquitous in warm weather vacation spots. Hibiscus flowers do not require water, the blooms will stay viable until they're time has passed, with or without watering. Hibiscus flowers last only one day, maybe a bit longer if kept in the fridge, but new blossoms are usually just an arm's length away and they do continuously produce a lot of blooms.
Growing hibiscus is not an arduous task. The occasional gardener can grow hardy hibiscus with good success by following a few simple suggestions. The first task for growing hibiscus is to select an appropriate site. The plant site should have adequate sunlight. The sunlight should be fully available for at least 6 to 8 hours a day.
The second growing condition that needs to be addressed is the soil. Hibiscuses are quite adaptable to soil types. Providing a location with highly organic soil will greatly enhance growth and flower production. To increase organic matter, it may be advisable to mix sphagnum peat moss into the planting soil. After planting, the soil needs to be kept moist constantly for the first year or two. When they are fully established, they can accommodate some drought or excessive moisture.
The hibiscus tree is a rapidly growing tree that needs yearly pruning to promote new growth and prolific flowering. Pruning allows you to remove dead or diseased wood and shaping gives you an elegant tree that you can enjoy for years. Young hibiscus trees can be trained to grow in a box hedge shape if regularly maintained.
Hardy hibiscus plants are not as prone to insect or disease problems. They may have occasional outbreaks of spider mites and Japanese beetles. Controls for these pests may be purchased at the local garden center. Growing hibiscus is a task that is very rewarding, especially when the first filmy, light bloom presents itself in your garden.
Nowadays, people like to shape a Hibiscus Tree. Here is a simple step to do that.....
Wipe the blades of your pruning shears with alcohol. Sanitizing hand gel works great and you can find it in grocery stores.
Select a long and out-of-proportion branch. Look a third of the way down the branch until you spot a leaf node that is aimed in the direction you want the new growth to grow.
Prune off the branch just above this leaf node. Leave 1/4-inch of wood between the cut and the eye.
Move on to the next branch, following the above steps, until the hibiscus tree is shaped the way you desire.
Trim diseased or dead wood. Follow the branch back until you locate live wood. Keep following the branch down until you notice the next visible leaf node and prune the branch off 1/4-inch above that node.
Simple tips & warnings
Hibiscus are tropical plants and require moisture. Water frequently enough that the dirt in the pot doesn't dry out.
Feed your hibiscus every other week with a fertilizer for acid-loving plants.
Prune hibiscus during the early spring for best results, although new growth can be lightly pruned to retain shape throughout the season.
Hibiscus trees will do well outdoors on a patio or deck for the summer months, but bring the plant inside before frost to winter until the next spring.