The China rose hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is an attractive perennial shrub for warm regions. While all of the parts of the China rose plant are attractive, its gorgeous, exotic-looking blossoms are its most ornamental feature. In bright shades of red, orange or yellow, they will light up the garden.
This evergreen, thought to be native to tropical Asia, is a tropical hibiscus and cannot tolerate frost. In cooler climates, the China rose can be grown as a container plant that is brought indoors during the winter. It also makes a lovely year-round houseplant.
China Rose Plant Structure
The China rose hibiscus plant's primary claim to fame is its flowers. The shrub produces absolutely stunning blossoms that are up to 8 inches in diameter. Each funnellike blossom has five papery petals in white or brilliant shades of red, orange or yellow. A long, conspicuous column of stamens grows in a showy central tube.
Although each flower usually lives for only one day, the plant keeps producing more, to the delight of hummingbirds and butterflies. Once a flower is done blooming, it closes up and drops from the plant. The shell-like structure supporting the bloom will also dry up and fall to the ground within just a few days of the time the flower fades.
These perennial plants grow attractive foliage as well. Their leaves are toothed and shiny green, growing to 6 inches long. Plants grown outdoors year-round can become large shrubs that are up to 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It will take them a few years to achieve this mature height. Container plants grow to about half that height and width.
Uses for China Rose Hibiscus
Those in the warmest regions have the chance to plant China rose hibiscus outdoors. This is particularly appealing since in zones 10 and 11, the shrubs flower year-round. That makes them exceptional ornamental hedges, but China rose shrubs can also be trained into tree form by pruning out all upright stems but one and removing lower leaves as the plant grows. Plants brought indoors for the cold seasons usually only flower from spring to late summer.
In cooler zones, the plants must be grown in large containers and brought indoors before the first winter frost. Use wheeled caddies to make this easier. China rose also works very well as a houseplant that is placed on a sunny windowsill. In some cultures, the plant is used medicinally. Cooks are also fans of hibiscus flowers, which have a tart, cranberrylike flavor and can be used to flavor sauces.
Growing China Rose Shrubs
If you want to grow China rose hibiscus, think of the sun. Plants flower best when they get six or more hours of sun a day. Even hibiscus houseplants should be placed where they get several hours of sun. If your area is windy, find a sunny spot that is somewhat sheltered from the breeze. Container plants require regular pruning to keep them from getting leggy. Use a clean garden clipper with a sharp blade.
The plants should be grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soil. Give China rose hibiscus ample irrigation since they like consistent moisture and high humidity. It is advisable to keep the roots moist at all times. Mist indoor plants regularly. It also helps to place a container hibiscus on a saucer of wet pebbles to increase humidity.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.