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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Hibiscus come in various petal shapes, colors

By Staff | Jan 13, 2016

A hibiscus named Vodoo Queen. PHOTO BY ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Hibiscus (Hibiscus hybrids)

First impression: Bright, exotic five petal flowers in unimaginable color combinations. Filaments are colorful and long. I am overwhelmed by the many variations of petal shapes, wavy, ruffled, spiraled, twisted, to name a few. The trunks are smooth grey bark with dark green ovate leaves, but who ever notices them? The shrub has a natural shape and is loaded with flowers. With all this beauty who needs fragrance! We have oodles of hibiscus hybrids in kaleidoscope colors and kooky names blooming at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Hibiscus includes more than 300 species of trees, shrubs, and herbs from tropical America. Hibiscus, rosa-sinensis is the mother of all our hibiscus species we know today. Hibiscus can be a challenge to grow, but hybrids are even more complex and demanding.

Hibiscus lovers and growers cross pollinate, graft and then choose a few beauties from hundreds of babies. Ruffles, curly, flat, giant, tiny, double, single, triple are just a few morphs the hybrid flower petals have made. Flower colors range the entire spectrum of the rainbow. Guess what? Some of the hybrids even have different colored filaments! Once you have ogled the unique flower take a look at the name. Names are humorous, fanciful and descriptive.

The hybrids are great in a container, as a specimen plant, or grouped in their own special garden. They need a sunny area that receives at least six hours of sunlight. Place in well drained soil and where regular irrigation is available. Add mulch, but, volcanic mulching is never recommended. Sometimes you will notice lots of yellow leaves this happens and should not alarm you. You never need to overwater, just keep them on a regular water cycle. Fertilize three times a year with a coated slow release fertilizer. Be prepared to spend time with them, they are the divas of my garden.


Likes full sun

Flowers are unique and fanciful

Somewhat salt tolerant

Is great for oooh’s and ahhs

Great for photographs

Non invasive

Everyone needs at least one


Daily clean up when shedding flowers

Non-native status

Can be scraggly looking when not blooming

Multiple insects love to chew on them

Cut flowers last one day

Needs weekly attention

Neighbors will be stealing these blooms – count your flowers

Conclusion: Hybrids are not only on the roads, but planted lovingly in our garden. These take a second look blooms usually last for one day, so you wouldn’t want to miss the one that might become your next favorite. My favorite changes on a daily basis!

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!