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In The Garden: Dwarf hibiscus is a small plant with big impact

January 21, 2020
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Hibiscus is in the Malvaceae family of tropical plants and is known worldwide as the poster plant for tropical islands. You can hardly see an advertisement about an island getaway that doesn't feature one of these lovely flowers.

A dwarf hibiscus is a variety of hibiscus plant that has been cultivated to be used as an indoor flowering plant and also does well planted outdoors as a lower groundcover variety of hibiscus. It grows between 2 feet to 3 feet, instead of 6 feet to 8 feet - or more - as with traditional hibiscus. Dwarf hibiscus are not genetically distinct but are dwarfed using a growth regulator. This dwarfing is not a permanent change though, and the plants will eventually reach normal hibiscus heights within a few years.

Several varieties of dwarfed hibiscus are available, with clusters of buds in shades of red, pink, deep red, orange, apricot, orange-bronze and white. Spraying the hibiscus with growth regulator results in stunted growth immediately, which manifests as the growth of smaller new leaves and stems. However, the size of the flowers remain the same as those of the untreated hibiscus. The dwarfing process also promotes the growth of deeper green leaves and the production of five buds instead of just one, making this one of the most dramatic hibiscus for the money.

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Dwarf hibiscus

In our area, the dwarf hibiscus is only available from growers on a seasonal basis usually during the cooler months. Suitable uses would be as an annual - you will get a more extended life from them - an indoor plant on a lanai or porch and as a tropical table arrangement for parties. They do like regular watering, but do not overwater them. If you are planting them in the ground, they prefer full sun and a little fertilizer in late spring; a light trimming to keep the shape will be all that is necessary to keep the dwarf hibiscus going into summer.

In The Garden is a joint effort by all at the local garden center, at 3889 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel. For more information, contact 239-395-5859 or visit www.facebook.com/rswalshinthegarden.

 
 

 

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