Hibiscus, sometimes called the queen of shrubs, was originally a native of Asia. It was then carried to the Polynesian Islands, the West Indies and finally to Florida. The Americans were apparently enamored by the splendor of its fascinating flowers that bloom in numerous colors, types and sizes that reach up to 12" diameter. In many parts of the United States, thousands of labeled varieties of this shrub are cultivated, both in gardens and as potted indoor plants. In 1950, as popularity of this plant increased, the American Hibiscus Society was founded.
The size of Hibiscus plants range from dwarf hybrids to 3m heights and above. They are tolerant of different conditions and to some extent, can withstand frost and freezing. They thrive best in moist, slightly acidic soil where bright sunlight is available for at least six hours. The tropical species have a life span of about 50 years and hybrids about 10 to 15 years. Outdoors, Hibiscus can be planted as hedges or used for landscaping. The foliage may be dark green, dull green or with a reddish tint.
The Hibiscus flowers are among the most beautiful in the world. More than decorative pieces, Egyptians invented the Hibiscus tea and knew the medicinal properties and culinary potential of the flowers as well as the leaves. External and internal applications are many. Increasingly, more Americans are beginning to realize the health value of the Hibiscus.
It is not surprising that the Hibiscus plant lends itself to big business. Cut flowers, nurseries, planting materials and accessories, bonsai, pesticides, fertilizers, health foods, hibiscus tea, paintings and photographs of the blossoms, mementos, household products, gardening books and cookbooks are all part of the commerce.
Hawaiians call Hibiscus flowers "Pua Aloalo" - a magnificent gift of nature.