Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hibiscus radiatus

The red-velvet flowers of Hibiscus radiatus make this species a must-have among the fall and winter blooming varieties of Hibiscus.  Like some other short-day bloomers in the genus, this one has long stems that arch over and grow horizontally as the season progresses.  Left on its own, this plant will form a wide mound of flowers four foot tall and eight foot or more wide.  It's not unattractive, but takes up a lot of space in the garden.
To keep the plant a more manageable size, clip the growing tips repeatedly throughout the summer.  This will force increased branching and a more bushy, compact habit.

Hibiscus radiatus is classified as a short-lived perennial for USDA Zones 10-11, but it is successfully grown as an annual elsewhere.  In late fall the palmate leaves will often turn a red-gold color, providing additional interest.
Small branches and the underside of the leaf petioles are covered with small prickles that reportedly make this plant deer-resistant.

This species is supposedly also known as Monarch Rosemallow or Ruby Hibiscus. The leaves are edible, and they have a pleasant lemony flavor, making them a nice addition to salads. Only use the flat part of the leaf though--the petiole has those annoying prickles!


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What a wonderful hibiscus and one I don't have.


fer said...

Beautiful! love the color and the very nice leaves

Andrea said...

Wow Jim, that is another beauty. I love the colors definitely, but i dont like the viny habit though. Can it be hybridized with the other Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cultivars? Does it mean inter-generic or intra-specific?

Grower Jim said...

Andrea: They can easily be controlled by cutting them back. I'm successfully growing some in 10 inch pots this year as little bushes. I don't think they'll hybridize with H. rosa-sinensis but they will hybridize with other short-day species like H. sabdariffa and H. acetosella. The seedlings would be classified as simple hybrids.