The Chinese Pink Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

A little history

A venerable plant, hibiscus has origins as far back as the High Antiquity (3300 to 525 B.C.) It is quite impressive that a plant has such a long history. Hibiscus is known to have been cultivated in Egypt and also in the Southeast Asian region. Could it be the hibiscus flower that is often depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics? 


The hibiscus in the hieroglyphs?


For all these millennia, the hibiscus has had time to travel around the world and, today, it can be found almost everywhere. It is found wherever conditions allow it to grow naturally. If this is not the case, it is produced in nurseries and marketed by plant sellers. 


The hibiscus has been around the world


It is the national emblem of South Korea, Hawaii and also Malaysia and it is represented everywhere when it comes to the tropics, heat and exoticism. And for good reason! The hibiscus, which is called Island Girl in some places, comes from the hot and sunny tropical regions, where it grows naturally as a bushy shrub that can reach a height and width of a few meters. 



Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

There are different species of hibiscus (at least 200) and hundreds of varieties. The Hibiscus rosa-sinensisor Chinese Rose, which will be discussed here, is probably the best known. It would have been imported in Europe from China and it is what would have given him his name. 

It belongs to the family of Malvaceae and it exists in several varieties which are declined in numerous cultivars resulting from the horticultural hybridization. The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is not a perennial variety in Quebec. Its hardiness zones range from 9 to 11, which corresponds to tropical or subtropical climates. That said, your plant will be very happy to spend the summer outdoors once the temperatures are mild. 


The inflorescence

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensisHibiscus rosa-sinensis, when given the right growing conditions, are vigorous flower producers, making them attractive. Depending on the variety, the flowers can have a diameter ranging from 2 to 10 inches (5 to 25 cm) and they are colored (red, yellow, orange, cream, apricot, lavender, chartreuse, peach, pink, purple, etc.) They are funnel-shaped and have 5 rounded petals curved towards the peduncle. Some cultivars have slightly curled flowers, with a crumpled appearance, sometimes double. From the center of the flower, where there is often a colored eye, emerge a very long style and the reproductive organs which are a real work of nature. On the style, we see several stamens (male organs) with yellow anthers (containing the pollen) and, at the end of the style, we find the stigmas (terminal parts of the female organ) which are generally of the same color as the petals (although on the hybridized cultivars, it is variable). 



The flowers of the hibiscus, as beautiful as they are, are a very ephemeral pleasure, as they last 24 hours, hardly more for some hybrids. So don't worry about seeing the flowers fall at the end of the day. 

We will see below some cultivars of collection, all more spectacular than the others. Some of them have flowers that change color during the day, depending on the sunlight. In spite of the beauty of the different hybridized specimens, it is probably the one with the red flower, the original color, which is the most resistant of all.    


Leaves and stems

The leaves are rather dark green and shiny. Certain cultivars present a variegated foliage. The leaves are elliptical, serrated, generally quite robust. The hibiscus has a woody stem, like a tree. In the trade, you can find specimens grown on stems and also specimens with braided stems. 


Maintenance and advice

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensisneed sun. Many indoor plants do not like direct sunlight, but they love it. This intense exposure, combined with a fertilizer (for flowering) from April to September, with an adequate watering, will contribute to an optimal flowering. 


Gaïa fertilizer for flowering 2-8-4Flowering fertilizer 15-30-15








Hibiscus rosa-sinensis needs a good watering as soon as the soil is dry to the touch. It will be good to keep the substrate slightly moist at all times. Under water stress, the plant will have soft leaves, which may turn yellow, and the flower buds may fall off. That's why you need to think about a rich potting soil, able to hold water but still draining.   

Rich and draining homemade soil

Potting soil for tropical plants


It is important to have a high relative humidity (ideally at least 50%), especially in winter in our homes, when the air becomes dry because of heating. We can increase the ambient humidity level with a humidifier. Some sources mention that misting is interesting to achieve this, but the humidifier is better, because the micro-droplets are more easily absorbed by the plants. If the air is dry, you may see flower buds drop and leaves turn yellow. 

It's a good thing to get your hibiscus out in the summer when the weather is mild enough. They will be very happy. Before it is mild enough to do so, you can stimulate them a bit to wake up from their winter rest period. You can start fertilizing them again with traditional phosphorus-rich fertilizers, but you can also give them a nutrient boost, which will enrich the soil, make it more organic and make it easier for the plant to absorb nutrients. Gaia Green's Super Fly insect droppings are rich in essential nutrients. It can be mixed with watering water or soil. It helps fight fungal diseases and promotes good plant health and immunity. The slow but easy release of nutrients provides a rich source of chitin and beneficial soil bacteria and fungi. With the summer sunshine, hibiscus should thank you. 


Superfly insect droppings


Many people bring hibiscus in too late in the fall and the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors is a shock to the plants, which die back. We recommend bringing them indoors no later than the end of August. 

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis are rather fast growing, although the hybrids grow a little slower. If they become bald or too large, they can be pruned. Keep in mind that since the flowers are at the end of the branches, pruning will delay flowering. A tip borrowed from Larry Hodgson, the Lazy Gardener, is to prune gradually rather than cutting everything at once. So he advises, if your growing conditions are good, to get into the habit of pruning a branch or two to two-thirds every three months. This would be a way to ensure that there are always mature branches to produce flowers while rejuvenating the plant.  



The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis are unfortunately rather appreciated by some harmful biting-sucking insects, which feed on their sap. 

It is not uncommon to see colonies of aphids invading them, especially grouped on the flower buds, as they like the softer parts. One way to get rid of aphids is to cut off the most affected parts, put the stems under a good jet of water to dislodge as many individuals as possible and then apply a treatment. It only takes one aphid to remain on the plant for the infestation to start again. They reproduce very quickly. 


Aphids on hibiscus


Sometimes hibiscus plants are attacked by whiteflies (small white flies), which often cluster under the leaves. A good way to control whiteflies mechanically is to vacuum them up with a sweeper. Afterwards, it is good to do a treatment to avoid that there are still individuals that could reproduce. 

In winter, in houses where the relative humidity is often very low because of the heating, the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis are often the target of spider mites (tiny mites). Showering your plant regularly, and spraying it as well, could be a way to mechanically fight against spider mites, as they do not like humidity.  

The mealy bugs also attack the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. They like to hide in the armpits of the branches. Since they move very slowly, they look for places where they will not be disturbed. Mealy bugs are a little tougher than other insects because they are covered with a protective layer that resists insecticidal soaps. The best way to get rid of them is to dislodge them, one by one, with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. It is not a bad thing to spray rubbing alcohol on the plant afterwards, as they carry their eggs and babies on their bellies and sometimes the mother is removed, but the babies manage to escape. 

And thrips... one of the most difficult pests to eradicate, as it has several stages of development that occur in various parts of the plant, including inside the plant tissue and even in the substrate. It is necessary to be patient to get rid of thrips and to make treatments regularly.  

Black soapSafers End-All Soap


Of course, in all cases we recommend treatments that are less harmful to the environment, such as insecticidal soaps and black soap for example. Ideally, regardless of the type of infestation, treat once a week for a few weeks to make sure you get rid of it. You can also try to control the pests with predatory insects that will eat them! It's quite satisfying to see them do it! However, you should not do an insecticide treatment AND introduce predators at the same time.  

For more information on pests of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and the means of control, you can consult the website ofEspace pour la vie 


Hibiscus are not toxic to humans or animals. Senegalese, Guineans, Malians, Beninese and also Egyptians make a juice from the infused dried flowers that is absolutely delicious: bissap. "Bissap is the name given to the variety of hibiscus used, Hibiscus sabdariffa (don't try it with your Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). Moreover, hibiscus is known for its therapeutic virtues and used in different ways (antiseptic, diuretic, menstrual pain, cough, respiratory tract, hypertension, cholesterol, etc.). If you wish to discover it under this aspect, please consult a health professional for the way to do it and also to make sure you consume the right variety of hibiscus.  


Hibiscus of collection

Here are some specimens of the 'Hollywood' series, which are available at Serres Lavoies. The Hibiscus of this series are known to have an abundant bloom, a good growth and a good resistance to diseases.

We invite you to visit the website to discover the complete collection


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Gossip Queen

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Gossip Queen' has orange-yellow flowers with a center that comes in different shades of pink, ranging from darker to lighter and ending with fairly light tips that contrast on the color of the petals.  

 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Gossip Queen



Hibiscus rosa sinensis 'Hollywood America's Sweetheart 

Hibiscus rosa sinensis 'Hollywood America's Sweetheart' has pure, bright pink flowers with a very red center. The closer you get to the petal margin, the paler the pink becomes, until it's almost white.



Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Disco Diva

Hibiscus rosa sinensis 'Hollywood Disco Diva' has orange flowers that are a little crinkly and approaching gold. The center of the flower is so dark red that it is almost purple and it is haloed by a pale pink border that makes a beautiful contrast. 


Hibiscus rosa sinensis 'Hollywood Disco Diva



Hibiscus rosa sinensis 'Hollywood Earth Angel 

Hibiscus rosa sinensis 'Hollywood Earth Angel' has soft white petals that seem to sparkle in full sun. This specimen will be perfect for adding light to a colorful bed or for making other plants stand out more.  


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Earth Angel



Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Heartbreaker

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Heartbreaker' has very orange flowers. Its great feature is that, unlike most other hibiscus which have a pink or red center, this one is rather white, with a very pale pink margin. 


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Heartbreaker



Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Pop Star  

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Pop Star' has bright pink flowers with purple centers. The colors are very saturated and there are no gradients or pastel hues in this cultivar. The margins of the petals are slightly curled. 


Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Pop Star



Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Rico Suave

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Rico Suave' has bright canary yellow flowers. Their center is cherry colored and haloed by a slightly lighter pink. This cultivar has very dense colors and their contrast is sure to make them a real eye-catcher.  

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Hollywood Rico Suave


There is a wide variety of cultivars, all more spectacular than the others. Pay a visit to our greenhouses to discover them!