FloridaGardener's Blog
Jun 3

Written by: host
6/3/2009 10:16 PM

Hardy Perennial HibiscusI just received some seeds that I ordered from Onalee’s Home-Grown Seeds in Brooksville, FL. They are Hardy Perennial Hibiscus seeds. They're easily grown if you give them the conditions they want (in fact, they're easily grown in most conditions), i.e. they do very well in full sun/part shade and sandy soil – which is most of Florida!


This is a rather large family of plants – about 220 species of annual and perennial herbs, shrubs, sub-shrubs and trees.

Perennial Hibiscus are members of the malvaceae or Mallow family which lends them a common flower habit with some of our less popular roadside weeds (white mallow) and our more popular garden plants (Lavatera aka Rose Mallow). These are not the Tropical Hibiscus (for instance Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) most people grow in South Florida as flowering shrubs or hedges, but they are in the same family.

The seeds I obtained are:

Hibiscus sabdariffa (also known as Roselle, Roselle Hibiscus, Florida Cranberry, Indian Sorrel or Jamaican Sorrel) – a fast growing annual that grows to 4 – 7 feet tall and about as wide. It has dark green leaves, pink flowers (in the fall) red stems and petioles and after the flowers come bright red calyxes which are about an inch in diameter and are used to make juices, sauces, jellies, wines, pies and even Hibiscus Tea (remember Red Zinger® Tea from the 1970’s).

Abelmoschus manihot (also known as Manihot or Sweet Edible Hibiscus) -- a fast growing plant that reaches 4 – 6 feet tall and about as wide. It has dark green leaves, lemon yellow blooms about 8 inches across with burgundy colored centers. While the large yellow flowers are very ornamental, the importance of this plant is that it is one of the world's most nutritious leafy vegetables because of its high protein content. The leaves are tender and sweet and can be served raw or steamed.

Hibiscus or Rose Mallow FlowerHibiscus radiatus (also known as Monarch Rosemallow, October Rose or Ruby Hibiscus) -- Hibiscus radiatus is often confused with Hibisus cannabinus as both have palmate leaves which can cause one to easily mistake the plants for cannabis at first glance. October Rose Hibiscus blooms with a profusion of deep burgundy flowers and can reach 10 feet high by 4 feet wide, but it is suggested to keep them pruned shorter to keep them from looking too weedy and being blown over during thunderstorms. Be forewarned though that this plant has small prickles on the seed pods that can get under the skin and be very irritating and that the plant will freely self sow and may become like a weed in the garden.

Growing Summary:

  • Sunshine: Sun to part shade
  • Soils: just about anything other than drought and heavy clay
  • Propagation: Seeds or Tip Cuttings
  • Height: From 4 to 10 feet
  • Flowering Time: late summer through fall
  • Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 through 11

Copyright ©2009 Paul J. Erdek, Florida


Re: Hardy Perennial Hibiscus

I have ordered the same three varieties from onalee's myself. I have germinated on heat pads with 90% success. I am hoping for blooms from all three early this year in Jacksonville!

By Margaret Lee on   6/28/2010 6:53 PM

Re: Hardy Perennial Hibiscus

I made a great holiday Rum drink from the syrup I cooked-up from the calyxes. I also made a pretty tasty jam from them. Next time though I think I will go lighter on the sugar and add more lemon. That was the first time I ever made jam. It is pretty easy, try it if you get the chance.

By host on   1/24/2010 7:32 PM

Re: Hardy Perennial Hibiscus

I'm curous about how these did for you last year and if they came back after "the" freezes. I have started seedlings recently of sabdariffa and radiatus from Onalee as well.

By trisha on   6/28/2010 6:54 PM

Re: Hardy Perennial Hibiscus

They were not bothered by the cold. They gave up when the heat started to come on so I pulled them out.

By host on   6/28/2010 6:57 PM

Re: Hardy Perennial Hibiscus

The illustrations you have here for H. radiatus are both actually the hollyhock, Alcea rosea.

By The Sheriff on   12/22/2013 2:31 PM

Re: Hardy Perennial Hibiscus

The Sheriff, you are correct. I am not sure why I used those images. Good catch, thank you.

By host on   12/22/2013 2:39 PM

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