Hibiscus acetosella (Cranberry Hibiscus)

Scientific Name

Hibiscus acetosella Welw. ex Hiern

Common Names

Cranberry Hibiscus, African Rose Mallow, False Roselle, Maroon Mallow, Red Leaf Hibiscus, Red Leaved Hibiscus, Red Shield Hibiscus

Scientific Classification

Family: Malvaceae
Tribe: Hibisceae
Genus: Hibiscus


Color: Dark maroon
Bloom Time: Late summer or fall


Hibiscus acetosella is a tender perennial subshrub, hardy only to USDA hardiness zone 8, but is easily grown as an annual in colder climates. During one season, the plant can grow up to 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and up to 30 inches (75 cm) wide. Leaves can be ovate or lobed, green with red veining right through to a full deep burgundy. It has typical Hibiscus funnel-shaped flowers that are up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. They vary in color and are most often the dark maroon that is characteristic of the foliage with darker vein-like markings. Flowers are rarely yellow.

Hibiscus acetosella (Cranberry Hibiscus)
Photo via herbsfromdistantlands.blogspot.com


USDA hardiness zone 8a to 11b: from 10 °F (−12.2 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Hibiscus should be moved outside in the summer, then back inside during the winter. Tips for a successful transition include: Trim the plant hard before moving it inside for the winter. It will go into near dormancy until late winter; After you trim it, but before you bring it in, treat it thoroughly for insects. Neem oil and liquid detergent work well, or use a hose to blast off insects; Once inside, don't overwater, but provide as much humidity as possible, including daily mistings. Don't expose to blowing air from vents; When the weather warms above 50ºF (10ºC) at night, move it back outside and acclimate slowly.

Repot as necessary, yearly or biannually. Hibiscus will grow into trees in their native habitats, but this may be unwieldy in a home setting. There's also some benefit to keeping the Hibiscus in a relatively smaller pot, as it will make for easier pruning and moving. Failure to repot these plants often can leave them in soil without adequate nutrients for their survival, and repotting will often spur on growth if you're finding that your Hibiscus plants seem to have stalled out. Watch out for falling leaves or other signs of stress. See more at How to Grow and Care for Hibiscus.


Hibiscus acetosella is thought to have come about via hybridization between Hibiscus asper and Hibiscus surattensis secondary to their cultivation.


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