Thursday, January 6, 2011

Native Hibiscus

Hibiscus heterophyllus

Here’s a plant that’s loving the rain. My native hibiscus have flowered better this year than ever before - their only problem is that they will only open their flowers if the sun shines. I feels hard to believe as I write this with the rain pouring down, but we've actually had a lot of sunny intervals these last few months. During those sunny periods, the Hibiscus have been the stars of my garden.

Dry rainforest is a plant type that can lack showy flowers, so these light-coloured beauties are a feature which can be seen from far away. No wonder the butterflies and beetles love them!

The plants are medium to tall open shrubs, with branches and blue-green leaves that are "scratchy" rather than actually prickly. If I prune them I do prefer to wear long sleeves and gloves.

However they do well to be allowed to find their own natural shape, a graceful one which contrasts strongly with that of the commonly-grown introduced hibiscus.

Like so many dry rainforest species, they are very drought hardy, but only tolerate light frosts. They prefer to be sheltered, and may break, or just lean over, if exposed to strong winds. And of course they need a sunny situation to flower.
They are fast-growing in all weathers.
There is a local yellow form of this plant, growing on sandstone ridges down Flagstone Creek way. I have a young one growing in my hillside redsoil, and so far it has stood up well to to the assault of the rains.

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