Jamaica plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

Herbaceous plants are a type of plants that cannot be missing in a garden, since they are the ones that give it color and shape. There are many species, but this time I am going to tell you about the Hibiscus sabdariffa, which is an annual mallow tree (it lives for one year) that can reach between 1 and 3 meters in height.

It is known as the Jamaica plant, although it is actually native to tropical Africa. Here we tell you how to take care of it.

Origin and characteristics of the Jamaica plant

Image – Flickr/ Kai Yan, Joseph Wong

Our protagonist is an annual plant originating from Egypt and Sudan to Senegal whose scientific name is Hibiscus sabdariffa. It is popularly known as Jamaica plant, Jamaica rose, Abyssinian rose, rosella, Guinean sour or saril. It grows to a maximum height of 3 meters, with tri or pentalobed leaves of about 15 cm in length, alternately on the stem.

The flowers measure 8 to 10cm in diameter, are red at the base and pale at the ends, but what is most striking is the calyx, which is deep red, fleshy and rich in malic acid.

What is your Hibiscus sabdariffa care ?

Image – Wikimedia/ Mokkie

If you want to have a specimen of a Jamaican plant, we recommend providing it with the following care:


It is a plant that grows well in semi-shade, although the ideal is to give it direct sunlight. For this reason, you have to keep it outside, since inside the house it will not enjoy good health.


  • Flowerpot: not demanding. You can use a universal growing medium mix with 30% perlite. The important thing is that it has good drainage, since otherwise its roots would rot.
  • Garden: the garden soil must be fertile, and have good drainage.


Frequent in summer, but moderate-scarce the rest of the year. Typically, it will be watered 3-4 times a week during the hottest, driest season, and slightly less the rest of the year.

Use preferably rainwater or lime-free water, and water so that the soil or substrate is very moist. If you have it in a pot, in summer you can put a plate under it, especially if it is very dry and warm (30ºC or more), but in spring and autumn it is not recommended.


The rosella or Jamaican plant requires a regular supply of fertilizer throughout the season. Therefore, it is very interesting to pay it with ecological fertilizers, once a month. You can also use fertilizers for green plants, but only if you are going to have it solely as an ornamental plant.


Image – Flickr/ Kai Yan, Joseph Wong

It multiplies by seeds in spring, following this step by step:

  1. First, you have to choose a seedbed. This can be a seedling tray, pots with drainage holes, peat tablets, yogurt or milk containers,… Anything that is waterproof and that has or can be made of some little holes through which the water comes out, it will help you.
  2. Afterwards, the seedbed is filled with specific substrate and watered thoroughly.
  3. Then, a maximum of 2-3 seeds are placed in each socket or pot, burying them a little, enough so that they are not exposed to the sun.
  4. Finally, the seedbed is placed outside, in semi-shade.

Keeping the substrate moist but not waterlogged, the Hibiscus sabdariffa seeds will germinate in about 2 weeks.

Plagues and diseases

In general, it is quite resistant. But in hot climates and dry environments, mealy bugs, spider mites or aphids could harm it. To avoid this, there is nothing like having it well watered and fertilized .

However, if you have already seen a plague, feel free to treat it with diatomaceous earth or potassium soap. Both are natural and ecological products, with great efficiency.


Remove dried stems and wilting flowers. Thus, it will continue to look pretty for a while longer.


It does not resist the cold ; in fact, after flowering and fruiting, the plant begins to dry out as it is an annual.

What uses is given to the Jamaica plant?

It has several:


It is a very decorative plant, ideal for growing in pots or gardens. Despite being tropical, it is a very interesting species also to have in warm temperate climates.


The leaves are consumed as a vegetable, jams and ice creams are prepared with fresh calyces, and drinks are prepared with fresh fruits.

Medicinal – Properties and contraindications of the hibiscus flower

Image – Wikimedia/ Popperipopp

The so-called Jamaica rose has antiparasitic, diuretic, antihypertensive properties and can even be used as a mild laxative. It is taken as an infusion, which in Mexico is known as agua de Jamaica.

Therefore, it is a good ally for anyone who wants to lose weight or maintain their weight. It also reduces cholesterol, protects the liver, and strengthens the immune system.

However, women who are pregnant or want to be, should not consume it. The Jamaica plant can affect fertility and hormones, especially estrogen.

Before starting to take it, it is highly advisable to consult a doctor or nutritionist.

Where to buy?

You can buy seeds from here:

Asklepios-seeds® – 35…

€ 4.90

View deal

What did you think of this plant? Did you know her?

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