Across from my
backyard, my neighbor has been turning his pool into a virtual
paradise with a pergola and rock work. Now all he needs is a South
Pacific Sipper! This sounds like the perfect tropical beverage to
enjoy while floating across the clear blue water, but in reality, it
is one of the most beautiful hibiscuses in the market.
Sipper might best be described as a fancy hibiscus and indeed it is.
It produces flowers so large they defy logic. They are somewhat
ruffled and often called double with blooms that seem to be 9-inches
in diameter. There is no other plant that conjures up visions of the
islands, whether those in the South Pacific or in the Caribbean.
It was first
called Nectar Pink, an obvious clue to its color, which you might
still find in some markets. Iíve seen hummingbirds, swallowtail and
even sulphur butterflies visiting the tropical blooms.
known botanically as Hibiscus rosa-sinensis originates in China and is
kin to our well-known swamp hibiscus or mallow. Today there are
hundreds of varieties available in almost every color except for blue.
There are even those that change colors throughout the day. The dark
green foliage is handsome and contrasts nicely with the beautiful
flowers that generally stay open only for a day. They are however
produced for months during our long growing season which makes them
worth every penny even if only treated as an annual.
in both containers on the patio or deck and in that special spot in
the landscape. The requirements are much like any other annual we
grow. Plant your hibiscus in well-drained, well-prepared beds because
they absolutely cannot take wet feet, but use a good layer of mulch to
keep the soil evenly moist through the season and of course to make
weed control easier.
Choose a site
with plenty of sunlight. Morning sun and filtered afternoon light are
just about perfect. Hibiscus blooms on new growth so it is important
to keep it growing vigorously throughout the season. Keep them well
fed and watered during periods of drought.
think that the prolific flower production of a hibiscus requires high
amounts of super bloom type fertilizers high in phosphorous. This is
not the case. Hibiscus prefers a slow released balanced fertilizer
formula such as a 6-6-6 in light monthly applications.
Keep in mind
that those growing in containers that are watered daily will quickly
leach the nutrients from the soil. You will have to apply diluted,
water-soluble fertilizer weekly or controlled-released granules per
I must confess
that my bride is not only the buyer of all our hibiscus, she is also
the daily horticulturist that keeps them ever so picturesque. I know
she would be the first to tell you to get on the bandwagon this spring
and let a tropical hibiscus bring joy to your gardening.