Hibiscus surattensis L.
Wild Sour, Bush Althea, Bush Sorrel
Abelmoschus aculeatus, Abelmoschus rostellatus, Furcaria surattensis, Hibiscus aculeatus, Hibiscus appendiculatus, Hibiscus bifurcatus, Hibiscus hypoglossus, Hibiscus involucratus, Hibiscus trinitarius
Bloom Time: Late summer or fall
Hibiscus surattensis is an annual herb that produces prostrate or scrambling, up to 10 feet (3 m) long stems. All plant parts, including the weak stems and leaf stalks, are covered with small, downward-pointing, soft prickles and hairs. Leaves are rounded, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and wide, deeply and palmately 3- to 5-lobed. Flowers are yellow with a dark center and occur singly in leaf axils. Petals are obovate, up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) long and 1.6 inches (4 cm) wide. The flowers can be easily identified by their unique false sepals. They are forked into a spoon-shaped outer part and a narrow linear inner part.
It is grown as an annual plant, so it has no USDA hardiness zone.
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, before bringing 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.
This species is generally widespread throughout the Old World tropics and in South Africa, where it occurs in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga.
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