Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2 Native Hibiscus

Hibiscus heterophyllus
This local species of Hibiscus is most noticeable at this time of year as the white and faintly pink flowers are fairly large (about 10cm across) and they are produced in quantity and are clearly visible from a distance. Up close the flowers have the texture of a crepe bandage and from their crimson throat out tumbles various beetles and bugs which have taken refuge. It is often seen beside roads or growing in open paddocks but does not quite make the grade as a garden specimen as it forms a fairly ungainly shrub to about 5 metres and is covered in prickles .The seed pods which follow the flowers are also fairly unfriendly as well. They are densely packed with fibreglass-like hairs which can irritate the skin.

Pink and white dot flowers of a Hibiscus heterophyllus beside a local road.
Hibiscus geranioides
 Geranium leaf Hibiscus

This is a little charming species which only grows to about 70 cm. It is covered in musk pink flowers which seem to prefer to open on dull days.Native to the tropical north, it often acts more like an annual there, responding to the wet and dry seasons by shedding seed at the end of the wet and returning after the dry season. It does well further south and will even tolerate a light frost. Growing it in a cottage style garden with other small perennials is an ideal situation for it as long as it is given a well drained soil. It also makes a great container plant on a sunny balcony.
2017 update: Plant breeders have produced some spectacular new colour forms of native Hibiscus.


  1. Ian, I don't think I have ever seen either of these Hibiscus. It is usually the red I see here.

    I do love the way a Hibiscus opens during the day and closes during the night... much like it is turning in for a nights rest.

  2. I used to have one of these plants, alas it died last summer after several years.

    There is a hibiscus native to africa - Hibiscus pedunculatus, which i also have. My problem is that the leaf and flower are completely identical to the native geranioides - how do you tell them apart?

  3. Hey send me a photo of the Sth African species if you can