Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hibiscus poeppigii – Fairy Hibiscus

Hibiscus poeppigii, Fairy Hibiscus, Poeppig's Hibiscus, Fairy Rosemallow, Poeppig's Rosemallow

Hibiscus poeppigii is a dwarf, shrubby perennial that bears small 1-inch long brilliant red flowers pollinated by bees and hummingbirds. It will produce flowers all year round so long as warm temperatures and adequate soil moisture prevails. Plants in full sun grow 1–4 feet (0.3–0.9 meters) tall and about half as wide and bear leaves 1–2 inches (2.5–5 centimeters) long. The stems will grow taller and the leaves larger if plants are situated in the shade or are overtopped by taller plants.

Hibiscus poeppigii is readily propagated from seed which germinate in about 10 days if sown during warm weather. It makes a delightful pot plant and I have grown it from seed to flowering in about 4 months in an 8-ounce (0.24 liter) plastic cup. In the ground, plants will rarely exceed 1.5 feet (0.46 meters) tall and be rather twiggy and sparsely leafy if grown in a dry, sunny spot. Of course, plants will grow much taller and be more lush if grown in continually moist soil or in part shade. Since it is the smallest of all Florida native hibiscus, and because it begins to flower when scarcely 6-inches (15.24 centimeters) tall, it is referred to as fairy hibiscus, a name which I much prefer over the prosaic and literal common name of Poeppig's hibiscus.

Hibiscus poeppigii is a state-listed endangered plant in Florida, where it occurs only in Miami-Dade County and the Monroe County keys. It also occurs as a native plant in the Caribbean (Cuba and Jamaica) as well as in Mexico (from Tamaulipas to Yucatán and Chiapas) and Guatemala. Taxonomically, it belongs to section Bombicella of the genus Hibiscus. In the New World, the section is centered in Mexico and Hibiscus poeppigii is the only representative of section Bombicella that is native east of the Mississippi River.


Fryxell, Paul A. 1980. A Revision of the American Species of Hibiscus Section Bombicella (Malvaceae). Science and Education Administration, United States Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin No. 1624. Internet

Image and text © 2012 Rufino Osorio

Hibiscus furcellatus – Sleepy Hibiscus

Hibiscus furcellatus is a large, coarse, shrubby perennial or shrub that bears ornamental, large, dark pink flowers pollinated by hummingbirds and bees. It is remarkable for its wide natural range and occurs from Florida, in the southeastern United States, all the way south to Paraguay and Argentina. It also occurs in the Greater Antilles and, by way of long distance dispersal from Central or South America, it is also native to Hawaii.

In Florida, the petals rarely spread very widely, thus accounting for the common name sleepy hibiscus since the flowers never fully "wake up." Occasionally, the petals will fully spread open but usually only for a short time and then only very early in the morning. Hibiscus furcellatus is easily cultivated from seeds and readily flowers during its first year. Its cultivation is undemanding and it grows equally well in moist or dry soils in light shade to full sun. Although wild plants are clearly perennial shrubs, plants cultivated in my garden have always behaved as annuals and must be grown from seed each year.

Image and text © 2012 Rufino Osorio

Hibiscus dasycalyx – Neches River Hibiscus

Hibiscus dasycalyx - Neches River hibiscus, Neches River rosemallow

Hibiscus dasycalyx, the Neches River hibiscus, is an endangered hibiscus that naturally occurs in the floodplains of the Angelina, Neches, and Trinity rivers in eastern Texas. There are only about 500–600 plants in the wild and wild populations are threatened by habitat destruction and genetic contamination with the closely related Hibiscus laevis. It is sparingly cultivated and is easily grown from seeds or cuttings in continually moist soil in very light shade or full sun. Its cultivation in South Florida is complicated due to the plant being severely attacked by the Sri Lanka weevil (Myllocerus undatus). The adult weevils cause extensive feeding damage to the leaves and the subterranean larvae feed on the roots.

Image and text © 2012 Rufino Osorio