05 August 2018

Tropical Hibiscus



Muskogee gardener Karen Coker grew her first Variegated Tropical Hibiscus when she had an interior landscape business in Raleigh N.C. 

“I bought it from a greenhouse supplier around 1998,” said Coker. “I was drawn to the leaf size and color, its blooms and the braided stems.” “It won three awards at the Western North Carolina State Fair in 2004.”

When it was time to move to Muskogee in 2005 to help care for her mother, the shrub was too big to bring along so Coker donated it to the North Carolina Arboretum after taking a set of cuttings to start a new shrub here.

Those cuttings have grown into a container plant that is 4-feet tall and wide that has won awards and ribbons at the Tulsa State Fair. 

Coker is ready to take cuttings to grow a smaller Tropical Hibiscus and is looking for a new home for her award winning plant.

“Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is cold hardy only in zones 9 and 10 and has to come into a greenhouse or a well-lighted house every winter,” said Coker. “It has grown too large for me to move so I need to find a good home for this one and start over.”

Tropical Hibiscus shrubs are grown in hedge rows in warm climates from Australia to Hawaii and Florida as well as south Texas. Its other names include Chinese hibiscus, shoeblack plant and China Rose.  Rosa-sinensis was named by Carl Linnaeus and the name literally means China Rose.

In warm climates and greenhouses, Tropical Hibiscus is evergreen, flowering for weeks in the summer, even here in zone 7. The edible flowers feed hummingbirds and butterflies as well as other pollinators.

Coker and other hobbyists find Tropical Hibiscus easy to propagate and hybridize since it is not patented. In addition to the scarlet flowers on Coker’s Snow Queen variety, there are white, yellow and red cultivars on the market.

If you would like to adopt Coker’s Tropical Hibiscus you can contact her at karenperrycoker@gmail.com or 918.348.8159.

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