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The hibiscus is a medium-sized shrub, but can often also appear as a perennial herb. Hibiscus coccineus is a plant native to North America that produces thin erect stems, which often become woody at the base and bear large palmate leaves, reminiscent of maple leaves, dark green, sometimes reddish.
In summer they produce large flowers with five petals, dark red; flowering lasts from June until the first cold of autumn. Long-standing plants sometimes become woody shrubs, which can reach 150-180 cm in height. Generally, especially in areas with cold winters, with the arrival of cold, the plant loses the aerial part, which will sprout again when spring arrives.
In areas with mild winters it is advisable to shorten the stems in November, 30-40 cm from the ground, to prevent the plant from losing its leaves at the bottom with time.
Hibiscus coccineus prefer sunny or semi-shady locations; these plants, if placed in an excessively shady place, tend to bloom little. They can also withstand direct solar radiation without any particular problems. Hibiscuses are plants that resist well even to the coldest climates, not presenting particular problems in the presence of harsh climate, even if in case of very low temperatures, it is possible that the aerial part dries up.
The coccineus hibiscus generally bears short periods of drought without problems, but also a damp or constantly soaked soil, for a balanced development and an abundant flowering it is advisable to water regularly, from March to October, always waiting for the soil dry between one watering and another; the scarcity of water leads the plant to produce very few flowers. These shrubs can find a place in water gardens, but also as a background in perennial or annual flower beds.
They are grown in medium-textured soil, quite rich in organic matter. It is possible to grow them in pots, remembering to change the container and the soil every 2-3 years. Plants grown in pots should be watered quite frequently during the hot season.
Usually it occurs in autumn, due to the division of the roots of roots; in spring it is possible to sow the small dark seeds, which are found in large decorative pods; coccineus hibiscus seeds germinate more easily if they are pierced with no pins before being placed on the ground.
Propagation by seed
Seed propagation is very simple and can be recommended to everyone. Seeds can be found easily at internet retailers.
You can proceed in the fall or spring. The first option is preferable if we have a heated greenhouse or if we live in the south of the peninsula. In any case it is a plant with a fairly rapid growth and specimens born in February are able to give a beautiful flowering already in July of the same year.
Before proceeding, to obtain a fast germination, it is recommended to cut the seed with a small knife or pass it on the sandpaper. Afterwards it is good to leave it in warm water for at least a night so that the external, almost woody, rind becomes softer.
At that point we will be able to proceed using immediately rather large jars and always trying to maintain constant humidity and temperature.
Pests and diseases
They can be hit by white flies and aphids. Frequent pests of this malvacea are aphids and scale insects. In the first case, especially if the infestation is important, you can use insecticides based on natural pyrethrins. Scale insects can be removed manually. We intervene with white summer oil and systemic insecticides only in the most serious eventualities.
Hibiscus coccineus, due to its vigorous growth, needs a rich soil with a good texture. In fact, in addition to nourishing the plant it must be able to retain moisture to always guarantee a fresh environment for the roots.
In this perspective it is always good, at the arrival of autumn, to spread abundant flour or pelletized manure in the area, perhaps adding some handful of roasted cornunghia.
At the arrival of spring we will distribute some granular fertilizer for flowering plants (in which potassium is the main macro-element) and we will include what has remained on the surface with a light hoe. In this way we will stimulate the production of buds to the maximum.
How to carry out a hibiscus cutting
We will have to get segments of herbaceous branch about 15 cm long at the beginning of the season. They will be left in the water and in the sun for about two weeks, after having almost completely eliminated the leaves. The rooting is very easy and the plants can already be put in pots in mid-July before being transplanted in the spring.
The same procedure can be followed using a sand and peat substrate, in the proportion of 3 to 1.
The division is equally simple. The best time to extract the roots is the beginning of spring. They will then be dissected with the help of clean rakes and shears, to then be inserted back into the ground.
Hibiscus coccineus should be treated like any other lively herbaceous plant.
In spring, when the stems have reached 50 cm, it is good practice to devote yourself to topping. In this way the plant will look more dense and compact and we will have a large number of apexes, bearing buds and flowers. It is indeed very important to stimulate a massive production, since the single corolla rarely lasts more than a day.
In the months of July and August, especially if we live in the Center-South, it is advisable to prepare a thick mulching layer based on leaves, straw or cut grass. In this way we will counteract the evaporation of the water: thus the substrate and the roots will remain fresh longer, avoiding frequent irrigation.
At the beginning of November you will have to take care of cutting the stems, now dry, about 10 cm from the ground. Also in this case the preparation of a mulch based on manure and plant residues may be helpful.
Variety coccineo hibiscus
The most widespread Hibiscus coccineus is that which can also be found in a spontaneous, bright red color.
In nature, however, there is also a spontaneous mutation of pure white color, called "Alba", and is also available at horticultural level. The plant has smaller dimensions and is slightly less floriferous.
An interesting cultivar is also Lord Baltimore, with corollas of an intense dark red color.
Hibiscus - Hibiscus coccineus: Use hibiscus
This hibiscus is really precious in a garden. It can be used in second or third lines in herbaceous or mixed borders.
Its ideal location is however in a marshy area, inserted as an isolated specimen or to form a hedge in the background, alternating perhaps cultivars of different colors. He can live peacefully on the banks or, in special vessels, even directly in the water (at a maximum depth of 30 cm).