Hibiscus “Rose of China”
I am frequently asked about plants suitable for a sunny windowsill and if you have got the space then the “Rose of China” (Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis) may well be the answer. There aren’t many indoor plants that will stand a lot of direct sunlight, but Hibiscus will thrive in the bright conditions so long as they are shaded slightly from the strong rays of mid-summer sun.
Originating in China, these shrubby plants can grow up to 5′ or 6′ if grown in a greenhouse border or large tub in a conservatory or bright porch. However, they can be tamed and will make a windowsill plant that shouldn’t outgrow its welcome too quickly.
The flowers are big and bold and come in shades of red, orange, pink, yellow and also white. You can choose from both single or double flowered forms. Buds start to emerge in March and flowering can continue right up to October or November. Although the individual blooms only last for a few days, the continuous production of new buds more than makes up for this.
To keep your hibiscus at a manageable size it will need to be pruned in February. This will also encourage strong bushy growth. Larger greenhouse specimens needn’t be trimmed too vigorously if you have the space to let them go a bit wild. Re-potting or potting on into a larger container can also be done at this time of the year.
Water hibiscus regularly as they will soon protest if their roots dry out. Ease off a little with watering during winter but never allow the compost to become completely dry. Mist spraying is also beneficial and will help to discourage red spider mites which thrive in hot dry conditions.
Check regularly to make sure aphids haven’t moved in to nibble on your prize specimens as they love the freshly formed buds for breakfast!