Plants

Hibiscus syriacus

Hibiscus syriacus: botanical notes

Ascribed to the genus Hibiscus and known by the common name of “Chinese hibiscus”, Hibiscus syriacus is a shrub plant belonging to the Malvaceae family, widespread in much of Asia. Introduced in Europe around the 1700s, it is now widespread in most of the temperate climate regions, used as an ornamental plant or as a hedge. It reaches about 3 meters in height and has a trunk thickly studded with branches. The leaves are rhomboid and dark green, with a serrated edge and sometimes surmounted by a sparse down. The flowers are large, with 5 or more petals, and with colors ranging from pure white to purplish red (depending on the variety); they bloom from summer until late autumn. The fruit is represented by a small round capsule of green or brown color, with plumed seeds inside.

Variety of Hibiscus syriacus


There are several cultivated varieties of Hibiscus syriacus, having both single flowers (i.e. flowers with the classic 5 petals) and double flowers (with 10 or more petals). Certainly the most common variety is called “ardens”; with large double lilac-colored flowers, it is a cultivar particularly appreciated for its large, thick habit, with large and colorful flowers and a remarkable longevity (not infrequently it can exceed fifty years). Another variety with a similar bearing is called “Jeanne d’Arc”; here too we find double flowers, but they are completely white and without any shade of color. The “oiseau bleu” variety is so named for the deep blue color of the flowers, single but generally larger than the common lilac variety. The last rather known and appreciated single flower variety is the ”

Sowing and reproduction


Being a plant coming from places with high temperatures, Hibiscus syriacus cannot tolerate too harsh winters and sudden frosts. However, it is robust and resistant even when grown in pots. Hibiscus can be multiplied both by seed and by cutting: in the first case, sowing takes place in March, large containers with universal soil. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy, as the seeds fear high humidity. Once they have reached 10 centimeters in height (after about 3-4 months) they can be transferred into larger single pots or directly into the garden, covered for the first time with a protective cloth. Reproduction by cuttings must be carried out in summer, taking care to take from the plant a young branch born from one of the previous year. To aid in rooting it is good to use a powerful rooting, after which they should be placed in vases covered with a cloth and exposed to abundant light. The transfer to the ground or to a larger pot should generally be done in spring, when the plant will have reached considerable size and is robust.

Care, pruning and curiosity


Hibiscus syriacus needs little care once it gets through the first part of its life. It lives well in varied soils, although a good drainage of the roots prevents the onset of pathologies and weakening of the plant. It should never be kept in the shade, but in an area full of natural light and possibly with the presence of a few other plants nearby. Watering must be abundant in summer, while in spring, autumn and winter it will not be necessary. Pruning should be done when the plant has reached 4-5 years of age; it is carried out in spring and always above the nodes present on the branches, with suitable shears that provide clean and precise cuts. You can also remove the old dried twigs to help thicken the plant. Hibiscus syriacus represents the emblem of South Korea; on the coat of arms of the state a stylized Hibiscus syriacus is depicted, with 5 petals and a red and blue center. It is also depicted on several other symbols of the same state, as well as on many postage stamps.

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