Hibiscus cannabinus (Kenaf)

Scientific Name

Hibiscus cannabinus L.

Common Names

Kenaf, Deccan Hemp, Brown Indian Hemp, Java Jute


Abelmoschus congener, Abelmoschus verrucosus, Furcaria cannabina, Furcaria cavanillesii, Hibiscus asper, Hibiscus congener, Hibiscus cordofanus, Hibiscus malangensis, Hibiscus obtusatus, Hibiscus sabdariffa subsp. cannabinus, Hibiscus vanderystii, Hibiscus verrucosus, Hibiscus vitifolius, Hibiscus wightianus, Ketmia glandulosa, Kosteletzkya vitifolia

Scientific Classification

Family: Malvaceae
Tribe: Hibisceae
Genus: Hibiscus


Color: White, yellow or purple
Bloom Time: Late summer or fall


Hibiscus cannabinus is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant (rarely a short-lived perennial) up to 11.5 feet (3.5 m) tall, with a woody base. The stems are often but not always branched and up to 0.4 inches (2 cm) in diameter. The leaves are variable in shape and up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. The leaves near the base of the stems are deeply lobed with 3-7 lobes, while leaves near the top of the stem are shallowly lobed or unlobed lanceolate. The flowers are white, yellow with dark purple center or purple and up to 6 inches (15 cm) diameter. The fruit is a capsule up to 0.4 inches (2 cm) in diameter, containing several seeds.

Hibiscus cannabinus (Kenaf)
Photo via antropocene.it


USDA hardiness zone 6a to 11b: from −10 °F (−23.3 °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 to 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


It is native to southern Asia.


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