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Greetings From The Editor-A Beginning|Hibiscus En Passant - Change of seasons|President's Message|Hibiscus Around The World|Growing Hibiscus In The Philippeans|Can You Eat Your Hibiscus|The Genie Chronicles - Tamibon|Helpful Hints On Pruning|Helping Hints On Rooting|Book Report - Turning Over A New Leaf|Morning Coffee With Nadeen Pickard|Feature Article-Super Simple Hibiscus for Beginners|Grafting Notes From Around The World|A Look At Hibiscus Storckii|Secretary's Report|European Pages:|Hybridizing In France| Hibiscus Miscellanea|



A beginning
(By Damon Veach)

I hope you enjoyed our first issue of ďHibiscus International.Ē It was a lot of hard work figuring out the right format and exactly what I wanted to use. Unless someone submits information from another source giving me permission to use it, all materials must be sent directly to me for editing. Some of the information is taken directly from the IHS Internet web site for our society and never from another groupís site.

ďHibiscus InternationalĒ looks different on the Internet, but the content is the same. This interchanging of information and ideas by our membership (which is worldwide) keeps me on my toes. But since we arenít competing with other publications for awards, it is my pleasure to just offer you good and useful information about the worldís most beautiful flower.

You will notice several new articles in this issue from new members. As our membership grows, so does our amount of knowledge that we can share. And sharing this data in a positive way is what we do best. The good part about it is that it is absolutely free on the web site. You only have to pay if you want a hard copy, and this is only to recoup some of the expenditures incurred in publishing it.

Our publication is actually in three formats Ė the hard copy color version, the hard copy black and white version, and the Internet version. When you check in with us, you will find some of the best information available on hibiscus. We are not copyrighted. We love to share. Quote us if you like. Just mention our website and give us a small note of credit somewhere along the way.

We have a very active group of hibiscus enthusiasts, and our Board of Directors represents the finest men and women in the field of hibiscus cultivation. If you have questions, ask. If you have ideas on how to improve this publication, suggest. If you want to share with us, do it. For now, just enjoy.

Damon Veach, Editor

  Evangeline (Two Plants) Photography by Damon Veach
(Hybridized by Bobby Dupont)

HIBISCUS En Passant Ė Change of seasons
(By Damon Veach)

Fall has finally arrived here in Louisiana. We had one short cold snap in October, but then the temperatures climbed back up to the 90s, and the lack of rain played havoc with all the areaís plants, including the potted ones. I have over a hundred different hibiscus, and this is about my max because of space limitations.

I say that all year, but I always find my way back to Louisiana Nursery to see what is new and inviting, and I usually find room for another one. I even order some each year, so maybe I have more that I havenít counted lately. I have a friend who is the manager at Louisiana Nursery, and he keeps me posted on new arrivals and upcoming sales. In the last issue of ďHibiscus International,Ē I explained how I came up with bargains. However, if you really want something badly enough, you may have to pay for shipping to your location.

I realize that shopping with major nurseries is the only way to get some of our newer hibiscus beauties (unless you are into hybridizing your own), but it is still best if you can actually visit a nursery and pick your choices right off the shelf. I do have the advantage of that here, not only with Louisiana nursery but also with Dupont Nursery in Plaquemine, across the Mississippi River about 20 miles or so. There are also several members of the Baton Rouge Hibiscus Society who sell plants they obtain from Florida. Iím not sure of the nurseries, but these are usually good plants.

Care of your hibiscus at this time of the year is important, and for some of you, this time came two months ago or even longer. Many members of the IHS live in the colder climates and have to maintain their beauties on the inside for the entire year. Still others have decks or lawns that lend themselves to a few months of outdoor living in pots.

Most of my hibiscus are in pots, and I really donít mind moving them around even though some of them are quite large. I spent most of today moving the remaining plants to the entrance to the greenhouse and the utility room. Some of my expensive (and favorite) ones are already in the house, utility room, or in the greenhouse. By having these last pots near the entrances, I can move them in easily when a freeze is on the way.

Itís been two or three years in Baton Rouge since weíve really had a hard freeze. Iím located in the downtown area, eight blocks from the Mississippi River, and with the river and the massive amount of concrete and also the trees Iíve planted in my yard, I donít have to worry too much about frostbite. I have, however, seen it drop to 10 degrees, and when that happens just about everything freezes to the ground.

I mulch all my plants with pine straw or the needles from the cypress trees. Iím the crazy man who sweeps the street leading up to the State Capitol. When that first blast of winter arrives, the cypress and pines lose a lot of their green and brown coverings. Rather than buy this material, I just take my trashcans and proceed to rake and pick up the droppings around the base of the trees. I donít mow. I edge. And my lawn is covered with a lush brown that gives way to the beauty of azaleas and camellias when February and March arrive.††

By April the bulbs and rhizomes have all put on their greenery and are ready to bloom, and itís time to position my hibiscus in order to enjoy their beauty once again. Sometimes this green remains all year, but I donít trust my hibiscus to the whimsy of a weatherman. They give me joy all year even in the house, and they get my undivided attention when the seasonal changes occur. With the arrival of Thanksgiving and Christmas, winter is close behind, and in Louisiana, this is usually a dreary time. Thatís when I really appreciate my collection of plants.

As for now, I have to just sit back and wait for the time when my garden will come alive again in tropical splendor. Even though the lush green shows no hint of winter, the colors will soon begin to turn.

Until then, I enjoy the hardier plants that provide me with color through their leaves or blossoms. Thatís the way it is in the land of magnolias and long hot summers. We depend on camellias, sesanquas, roses, pansies, ornamental kale, azaleas, cast iron plants, and so many more southern standards to get us through those dreary and cold days.

Give me summer anytime. Iím already looking forward to warmer weather, and winter hasnít even arrived yet. I find that I can cool off a lot easier than I can keep warm. I just canít stand it when the cold gets into ďmy bones.Ē Oh, well. Iíll wait.

Hibiscus Gil Whitton
Photo by Damon Veach


(By Richard Johnson)

Another important IHS milestone has come to pass with the acceptance of the proposed bylaws, which were approved by 83% of members choosing to vote on the issue. For me this is a very important milestone, in that I feel I have accomplished what I set out to do, i.e., establish an internet based, democratic, non-profit, civic organization of international scope that is capable of determining its own future. In accordance with the definition, the IHS is a Society now with all the mechanisms in place to permit it to fulfill its destiny, whatever that might be. ††

Now we can continue with the business of having fun and doing the good things that should be of interest to the entire hibiscus community. For the present, that includes completing the first revision of the Hibiscus Archives (a new appellation better suited to the scope of this section) which now has the beginnings of archives for: 1) Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis hybrids, 2) Hibiscus Species, and 3) Mystery Photos. In the coming months and years, these will become extensive references, sources of value to anyone interested in the subject. Also being considered for future inclusion are archives on Hibiscus Syracuse hybrids and Hibiscus Cousins. All of these archives will be permanent works in progress since they will periodically be updated as materials are received.

Importantly, these archives are the collective efforts of all that are interested in participating in a project of major significance to the hibiscus community. Presently, persons supporting these efforts include: Chris Noble of Hibiscus World, Curt Sinclair of Exotic Hibiscus, Dr. Gerald Carr of the University Of Hawaii, Damon Veach, Colleen Keena, Bob Rivers-Smith, Bill Cagle, Anna Bungo, Jean Francois Giraud, Marcos Capelini, Wayne Hall, Gloria White, Allan Little, Australian National Botanical Garden, Texas A&M University, Bioinformatics Working Group, and I'm sure I've missed some other members who have contributed their photos. These contributions are not limited to IHS members, and we are hopeful that others will join in on this project as a common interest effort, which should go beyond the boundaries of other affiliations since we are trying to do something here which is of interest to the entire hibiscus community and beyond.

Another of the good things we are focusing on is our publication, "Hibiscus International," which likewise, is a group effort for all to participate in regardless of their affiliations. The object is to generate interest in and inform people about the many interesting aspects of the hibiscus world. Contributions of data should be sent to the editor, Damon Veach (bookman@intersurf.com).

With the support of our membership and the contributions of anyone interested, our efforts should in the future make significant contributions, while at the same time permitting us to better appreciate and enjoy hibiscus, which is what the IHS is all about. In this respect, don't forget about the current Photo Contests. Send your entries in to either me (diveta@mail.pf) or Nadeen Pickard (zyan@mb.sympatico.ca), who is going to aid in the above as Assistant Webmaster.


Growing Hibiscus in the Philippines
(By John Fontillas)

The Philippines, being a tropical country, is an ideal place for growing hibiscus. The upper half of the Philippines has a more pronounced rainy season, starting about May and ending in October or sometimes November. The southern part of the Philippines, especially the Mindanao area, has a more even rainfall throughout the year. One would expect then that the hibiscus plant, commonly known in the Philippines as "gumamela" would be growing abundantly in gardens. However, this is usually not the case.

Hibiscus Lulay
Photo By John Fonallis

Most of the hibiscus plants in the Philippines were introduced from other countries. They later became pantropic in cultivation.

A popular hibiscus plant in the Philippines is the Hibiscus Rosa sinensis, its varieties and hybrids. The most popular variety is the red one. It is found in cultivation for ornamental purposes, but it is not grown spontaneously throughout the country. It is also a popular plant for hedges, fences, and just a "filler" for an empty space in the garden.

During a recent trip to Bugaio City and further north to Vigan City, Ilocus Sur, I kept my eyes open for gardens with plantings of hibiscus, and for those who may have new varieties. It was the same throughout - just a hibiscus plant here or there in the garden and almost all were varieties of the Rosa sinensis.

In recent years, more and more Filipinos have been bringing in newer varieties of hibiscus plants into the Philippines. However, most of these remain in the private gardens of the more affluent, who are not really interested in propagating them, and who would rather like to keep them as a "show piece" in their gardens. Should a plant fall into the hands of plant sellers, or brought in by them, then it doesn't take long before it readily becomes available to everyone. Also if one eventually gets "tired" of a plant, then one finally consents to part with some cuttings, either as a good gesture or for a price. I recently obtained a hibiscus plant from a seller. She was able to convince the owner to sell her two cuttings. She kept one and sold me the other. It won't take long before she could flood the market with that plant.

In 1998, Reynold Pimentel of the Institute of Plant Breeding, University of the Philippines, introduced ten new hibiscus hybrids, honoring the centennial celebration of Philippine independence. The plants were named after heroines of the country. Pimentel had previously brought in new varieties from Australia, so he had some good plants to breed.

However the plants were sold at such exorbitant prices that it was mostly the affluent and commercial sellers who were able to afford them. The price of fifty U.S. dollars for a hibiscus plant was just too much for the average plant enthusiast. After a year, the price was reduced to half. Now, one can obtain a good size plant of about two feet in plant stores for $8 to $10.

Hibiscus Marcella
Photo By John Fonallis

While the flowers are admired, many would rather use the amount of $10 for orchids. There are many varieties from Thailand flooding the market. Orchids, in the Philippines, are considered more "classy" and one would be able to have as many as ten orchid plants for the price paid for a newer variety of a hibiscus plant.

Now, Pimentel has again produced ten new hibiscus hybrids called the Millennium plants. He has named them after Philippine women scientists, mostly from the University of the Philippines. Instead of propagating them in the University, they have consigned them to commercial breeders in Bacolod City in the Visayas. I would expect that when they are made available to the public, the price would be as expensive as the centennial varieties, and one would have to wait for a couple of years or more before the average plant enthusiasts could afford them. I hope this will not be the case this time. Pimentel has been in the forefront in encouraging people to raise hibiscus. Hibiscus plants, especially newer cvs, have very few flowers during the rainy season extending from June to October. This is a good time to prune the hibiscus plants. After the rain, the plants start blooming profusely.

Hibiscus plants are usually not fertilized by the average gardeners. In fact, the plants are sometimes called "Alaga ng Diyos" or "God takes care of them." The Hibiscus Rosa sinensis and its varieties are very forgiving plants. They bloom profusely without fertilizer, and with very little care.

Since Osmocote can be expensive here, we have improvised our "slow release" fertilizer. We get a small plastic bottle, cut the bottom part out, and fill it with complete fertilizer. We bury the bottle with the cap sticking above the ground, about two feet to three feet away from the plant. Every six months, just remove the cap and add more fertilizer to it.

The hibiscus plant, especially the Rosa sinensis, is also cultivated for medicinal purposes. The flowers of the red variety are beaten into a paste and applied as a poultice to boils, swellings and mumps. An American friend who had a boil tried the remedy. After two days, the boil had "ripened" and erupted, making it easy for her to clean and remove the "head" of the boil.

The roots, barks, leaves, and flowers in decoction are also used as an emollient. A decoction of the roots of the white variety may be used for sore eyes.

Using hibiscus flowers for decorations is not a common practice as they tend to wilt easily as in a hotter climate. Placing them in the refrigerator during the day keeps them fresh for night use. Another trick is to keep green plants in the house and to decorate them daily with a few colorful hibiscus flowers.

One may develop greater interest in growing hibiscus plants by exposing people to as many varieties as possible. I intend to do this by having a mini-hibiscus park with different kinds of hibiscus plants, arranged in such a way as to create an impact, perhaps even "shock," as many don't give the hibiscus a second look.

Next is to have cuttings available for them - "starter kits" - so as to encourage or cultivate the interest. Third is to invite school children and their teachers to see the plants, and to encourage them to plant more hibiscus in the schools and in their yards. Hopefully, with the help of others, I may be able to achieve this plan.

Although hibiscus plants have been in the Philippines for ages, it has been recently that a greater interest in growing them as a special garden plant has developed. It is hoped that more continue to grow them so that the Philippines can truly be called "Gumamela Country."

(By Colleen Keena)

The following references give information on the edible and/or medicinal properties of hibiscus and hibiscus family plants.

Dr Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases:

type in hibiscus and search e.g. The chemical composition of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is shown at          
See also the Herbweb reference for HIBISCUS SABDARIFFA


Type in hibiscus and hit the search button e.g. Type in Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and hit the search button *= Chemical(s) effective for the ailment ** = Plant effective for the ailment >NOTE: No medicinal use noted for Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is accompanied by an asterisk. This is in contrast to other hibiscus species. This can be checked by typing in hibiscus.

The PLANTS FOR A FUTURE DATABASE gives useful information with references. The following site give information on the uses of hibiscus including medicinal uses

Type in hibiscus and hit the search button e.g. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

EDIBILITY OF HIBISCUS. Many Malvaceae species are edible

See also CropINDEX

HIBISCUS ROSA-SINENSIS: The AGRICOLA DATABASE shows that between 1970 and 1996 there were 86 references on the leaves of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis being used as a vegetable. See also and


MALLOWS.Mallows have been valued from at least Roman times onwards.
Mallows are still valued - for current information see

SUNSET HIBISCUS.Abelmoschus manihot has a very high level of leaf protein, from a Low of 22,000 (ppm) to a High of 190,000 (ppm).

Malvaceae are more than just beautiful flowering plants! Many are tasty and nutritious. I would sum up by saying that while most, if not all, hibiscus or hibiscus family are edible, some may not be palatable, such as species with furry leaves.

However, I would not eat any species unless I was absolutely sure the species was safe as there are reports of kidney damage from one Australian species and another species has been reported to have been used for abortions.


(By Gloria White)

And the sky was ominous and foreboding overhead. The mysterious flower genie knew that the Evil Wizard was behind this tragedy. Heavy rains fell from the sky in torrents. The gems of many colors suffered the onslaught and bravely held their heads up high. The mysterious flower genie worried about her gems and quickly bound a spell of enchantment to ward off the Evil Wizard's black magic.

Suddenly, the skies began to clear and the sun shone through clouds. In the enchanted garden, many blooms bravely opened themselves and faced the morning sun. The mysterious Flower Genie walked in the garden to survey the damage and came across a bud from a gem that had not bloomed before. This gem had many buds and would slowly make the genie smile with joy.

Hibiscus Tamibon
Photo by Richard Johnson

(From the Chronicles of the mysterious flower genie from the peninsula of flowers - Tamibon.)

The Membership Committee would like to welcome all newbies to the IHS and hope that you will enjoy everything that appears on the web site and in this publication. We are a very positive group, and we hope that you will feel free to participate in all our activities.


Question from Anna Bugno: When, how often, and how do we prune our plants?

Answer from Richard Johnson: Pruning can of course be beneficial if is done properly.

When: pruning is usually done when the plant is growing actively.

How Often: when very young to shape the plant, later when it starts growing out of bounds, and when those in pots start to decline.

How: the cut should be made just above a leaf at a diagonal angle. The new growth will usually come from the growing point just under the leaf, and perhaps the leaves below, so you can select more or less where you want the new growth to come from.

I find that when a small bush is growing, it is best to either pinch out the growing end or trim back a couple of inches of the one or two branches that are the usual growth.

On the few plants I've had the courage to do this to, I do it until I get 6 or 8 main branches, and this makes a very nice bush, assuming the cv is the type which has suitable shape in the first place.

Older bushes that have started to decline which are already in maximum sized pots benefit from pruning, especially when being repotted at which time it is usually better to remove perhaps a quarter of the roots as well. This sort of rejuvenates the whole bush. ††

Pruning will stop any more flowering on the branches trimmed for several weeks and resumes only when the new growth matures. However, as flowers are produced at the ends of branches, and as there are usually two or three branches which grow in the place of the one pruned, flower production as well as improved bush shape is evident, making the wait more than worth the effort.

Anna, the petals at the end of the staminal column are called petaloids (correct me if I'm wrong) and certain cvs are known for this such as Amanda Dubin, Rosalind, Madame Pele and many others. They can take different forms and considerably change the appearance of the bloom. Some I like (always on Madame Pele - its part of her charm), usually on Amanda Dubin, but only sometimes on Rosalind - occasionally I remove them when they imbalance the look of the flowers. Of course I'm talking about the flowers I bring into the house for decorations as I don't go out into the garden and manicure every flower to suit my taste - well, sometimes, maybe.

(By Nadeen Pickard)

There has been some talk on the IHS web site recently about rooting cuttings so I thought perhaps I would share some of my experiences with you.

On October 30th, a friend sent some cuttings for me to experiment with, 12 different cv's in all. Each different cv had several cuttings, except for Byron Metts which had only one. Here are the results so far.

Jamaican Red - rooted very easily and quickly. This is a species (variety) which has a very pretty red stalk with red leaves that are edible. I've been told it has a slightly bitter taste and are also used to make hibiscus tea.

Red Snapper, Lookithat and Tamibon - responding well and quickly put forth new leaves. Red Snapper seemed quite anxious to get under way and was the first of the hybrids to make new leaves.

Prima Ballerina, Candy Manners, High Voltage, Nago 20 and Wheel of Fortune - responding slowly but starting to develop new leaves.

Jami Lu and Black Eye - very reluctant to root. May still get results but the outlook isn't positive. One cutting from each variety proved a complete dud and was removed from the tray.

Byron Metts - succumbed to mold (ick) in spite of early treatments.

The cuttings were placed in a seed tray containing equal parts Canadian peat moss, pearlite and vermiculite. A high plastic dome was used and the tray set on a waterbed heater set at 75F. The dome provides very high humidity and is placed a bit ajar for air circulation.

At present I have not transferred any of the cuttings to separate pots so cannot confirm any success. Once they have been transferred I will again report on their condition.

I was reluctant to use water as a rooting medium as I was told a very long time ago that rooting cuttings in water developed a different type of root from that needed to survive well in soil.

Furthermore, cuttings rooted in water, then transferred to soil would have to develop the proper type of roots and while doing that may or may not be sustained properly by the water-grown roots.

I have never checked on this theory nor do I know of any literature supporting this, but I have always rooted my cuttings in soil since hearing that.

If anyone has any further information to on this to share it would be great to hear from you.

Country Music
Photo By Damon Veach

Turning Over A New Leaf

(by Damon

There are many books available on hibiscus and their culture. I'm a firm believer that there is something good in all of them. However, a new book just came across my desk that is indeed one of the better ones available at this time.

It's called "Hibiscus" by Jacqueline Walker, with photographs by Gil Hanly. This one came to me as a gift from Bob Rivers-Smith, so I wasn't asked by the publisher to review it. I just think it is good and want you all to know of its existence. It is truly a New Zealand gardener's guide to hibiscus, and the photography gives it that added boost that should place it on any hibiscus lover's want list.

The acknowledgements alone speak for the importance of this book. It's a who's who of important people in the plant world but most importantly for the author and photographer's special appreciation given to Chris Noble, President of the Australian Hibiscus Society, and his wife, Patricia Noble, of Hibiscus World, Caboolture, Queensland. I am not sure if any of the others mentioned in the acknowledgement section are IHS members or just plant enthusiasts and collectors.

Walker begins our journey into the world of hibiscus with a complete history and follows this up with an excellent cultivation section. She gives us a look at the basic requirements for healthy growth and the selection of hibiscus.

It is an accepted fact that the sight of the beautiful blooms on hibiscus bring out good impressions from viewers, but it is something else to be able to cultivate them properly. Here again, Walker has approached this topic with sections on container culture, cultivation in cool climates, use in garden design, and maintenance of these plants. She also goes into complete discussion of pests, diseases, and solutions to these problems.

Another chapter is devoted to the propagation of hibiscus, and she closes out her work with three appendices. The first one gives a list of hibiscus hybrids. The second is a list of selected hybrids for particular purposes, and the third section is a special list of fifteen facts about our favorite flower.

Another thing that is most important about this book is the quality of the pictures. Gil Hanly has done a masterful job at bringing out the true colors of his subjects. This is very difficult to do, and many books do not show hibiscus in all their natural beauty. Hanly provides viewers with a "reach out and touch" quality. It's absolutely a top-notch job.

"Hibiscus" is a must on any hibiscus collector's list of needed books. It is published by David Bateman Ltd, 30 Tarndale Grove, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand. Check with your local bookstores to see about the availability of this one, or write to the publisher direct. The price is not shown on the book, and it's rude to ask a friend what was paid for a gift. Whatever the price, it's worth it.

Hibiscus Madonna
Photo By Damon Veach

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