How to Grow Hibiscus

Hibiscus flowers are one of the most beautiful flowers you can find. And guess what? They can be easily grown in your own home or garden.

Let’s discuss what are the most popular types of Hibiscus and what you can do to properly care for them, whether you opt for a hardy garden variety or a tender house plant.

 

Types of Hibiscus

In total, there are more than 200 known species of Hibiscus. The most suitable Hibiscus to grow indoors is Chinese Hibiscus, otherwise known as Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Whereas Hibiscus syriacus, or if we use its other name, Rose of Sharon prefers to be grown outdoors.  Hardy Hibiscus syriacus are more widely available that the the tender indoor types, and you will find a superb range of flower colours on offer.

Now, let’s find out a bit more about them.

 

1. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Apollo’

Hibiscus rosa-Sinensis ‘Apollo’ has very pretty flowers with a mix of yellow, orange, and red colors, making it look almost like a Sun, hence its name, after the Greek god of Sun. This variety was bred especially for larger flowers, so it makes quite an impression in the conservatory or a bright, sunny room indoors.

Hibiscus 'Apollo'

©Zenflora – Hibiscus ‘Apollo’ produces dazzling flowers!

 

2. Hibiscus syriacus ‘Pink Chiffon’

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Pink Chiffon’ is quite recognizable, due to its ruffled, double pink flowers that don’t appear until quite late in the summer, but deliver plenty of colour while early summer plants are starting to fade. It really likes direct sunlight, enjoying 6 hours of direct sun per day, so make sure it is placed in a bright location.

Hibiscus Pink Chiffon

©Shutterstock – Hibiscus Pink Chiffon boasts ruffled, double blooms.

 

3. Hibiscus ‘Starburst Chiffon’

Hibiscus ‘Starburst Chiffon’ will really add an exotic feel to your garden, with its huge semi- double flowers with the crimson-red streaks. This hibiscus species can grow up to 150cm in height and spread, making a fabulous specimen shrub that will really make an eye-catching display.

Hibiscus 'Starburst Chiffon'

©De Nolf – Hibiscus ‘Starburst Chiffon’ is a real eye-catcher!

 

4. Hibiscus ‘Big Hibiskiss’

Hibiscus ‘Big Hibiskiss’ comes with extra big flowers that grow up to 18cm (7”) across! It makes an incredible focal point for late summer borders. This impressive variety comes from British breeding, with flowers that are much flatter than most other varieties.

Hibiscus 'Big Hibiskiss'

©De Jong – Hibiscus ‘Big Hibiskiss’ has been bred for extra-large flowers.

 

5. Hibiscus syriacus ‘Oiseau Bleu’

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Oiseau Bleu’ is  a real head-turner for its silky blue flowers. Like many Hibiscus it is often one of the last plants in the garden to begin leafing-up after winter – often not until May. It’s worth waiting for though, as the late summer flowers will keep going right into autumn.

Hibiscus 'Oiseau Bleu'

©Shutterstock – Hibiscus ‘Oiseau Bleu’ flowers right through to autumn.

 

Hibiscus Care

Watering

First of all, most Hibiscus like moderately wet soil, with the ability to drain well. This means that if you are gardening on clay soil, you may need to mix in some grit, sand and garden compost when planting , to increase its drainage.

If you are growing it in a pot then make sure that there are plenty of drainage holes in the base of the pot to allow good drainage, and prevent it becoming water-logged.

Pot grown plants will need regular watering during the summer months. Plants grown in borders should be able to look after themselves once they are established, so you will only need to water them for the first month or two after planting.

Hibiscus in the garden

©Shutterstock – Hibiscus are quite low maintenance once they are established in borders.

Sunlight

Hibiscus likes sunlight, so whether you are growing a hardy variety outdoors or a tender houseplant, make sure that they are in a bright spot.

Fertiliser

You can use fertiliser to help your hibiscus to grow. Feed them with a liquid plant food every 4 weeks from spring to late summer.

Pruning

Indoor Hibiscus rosa-sinensis won’t really need pruning so there’s no need to worry if you are growing this type.

Hardy Hibiscus syriacus should be pruned in in late spring, just as the leaf buds are opening. Remove any dead or damaged branches, and lightly prune the rest to shape the plant.

As you can see, Hibiscus plants are really easy to grow and don’t need a lot of special care. You can enjoy their bright flowers outdoors or in your home. Wherever you grow yours, you will love its exotic-looking flowers!

 

Essential Tips for Growing Indoor Bonsai Trees

The ancient art of bonsai has long been revered for its ability to draw inner peace, centre the mind, and cultivate a deep connection with the natural world. What’s more, if you’re keeping an indoor bonsai tree, science tells us they also help to purify the air we breathe in addition to serving as a stunning ornamental centerpiece for the home or office.

Here I’ll share a few essential tips and considerations if you’re looking to grow and nurture a bonsai in your home. What’s great is bonsai trees aren’t as arduous as you might think and with a few well followed guidelines you too can enjoy the great benefits of bonsai.

 

Bonsai tree

©Shutterstock – Bonsai trees are easier to grow than you might think!

 

Picking a Suitable Indoor Bonsai Tree

It’s important to note that only tropical or subtropical trees should be considered for indoor bonsai. All temperate trees require a period of dormancy during the winter season to complete their annual growth cycles.

Great choices for indoor bonsai (particularly if you’re new to bonsai life) include the Carmona (Fukien Tea Tree), Zelkova (or Japanese Elm), Ligustrum (Privet), Ficus (Retusa and Ginseng), and the Sageretia (Chinese sweet plum).

Where to Place Your New Bonsai Tree

Much like caring for a houseplant, a key factor is going to be the light conditions you’re able to offer the bonsai tree throughout the day. 

 

Bonsai tree

©Shutterstock – A bright spot with indirect sunlight is ideal.

 

As a general rule, aim to keep your bonsai in a position where it mainly receives indirect light for the majority of the day (short periods of bright direct light are fine).

Definitely avoid any south-facing window ledges, particularly during summer months as this may cause your bonsai tree to overheat. Similarly, avoid close proximity to radiators or free standing heaters during the winter.

Watering Your Bonsai Tree

Ensuring your bonsai is regularly watered is absolutely essential. Your exact living environment, relative humidity, and the type of tree will play a factor but you should aim to monitor soil moisture levels daily initially. A few key pointers:

  • A bonsai should never be allowed to dry completely. Check the relative moisture level approximately 1cm under the soil’s surface (your finger is fine or you could also use a soil moisture probe as well). If dry, your tree is ready for it’s next watering.
  • When watering, aim to cover the entire soil surface so the roots have the best chance of receiving a good soaking.
  • A good technique is to water the tree from above using a watering can with a fine nozzle to avoid disturbing the soil on the surface.
  • I’d recommend investing in some form of tray to catch the drained water as it flows through the soil. This will also help to create a nice humid atmosphere around the tree in-between watering cycles.

 

Bonsai tree

©Shutterstock – Ensuring your bonsai is regularly watered is absolutely essential. 

 

When to Feed Your Bonsai Tree

Bonsai trees require a little help with feeding as the natural roots aren’t able to dig deep into the ground to draw nutrients as a regular tree would do in the wild.

It’s really important to use the correct type of bonsai fertilizer with a high phosphate level. Follow the instructions detailed on the package but generally the tree should receive a feed every 1 to 2 weeks from spring through to the end of summer and monthly from late autumn through winter.

Pruning Your Bonsai Tree

The cornerstone of the art of bonsai is maintaining a regular pruning and trimming schedule to preserve their overall beauty and aesthetics.

The trick is to keep an eye on new growth (particularly during spring to summer months) and aim to pinch back to the overall shape you’re looking to maintain. These will typically appear as growth from the tree’s main branches and trunk. Once they reach around 3cm it’s a good time to cut back with sharp scissors as neatly to it’s parent branch as possible.

Don’t be too over-vigorous as a little growth is important for the tree’s overall health and wellbeing.

 

Bonsai tree

©Shutterstock – Use scissors to prune new growth.

 

When to Repot Your Bonsai Tree

Bonsai trees will typically outgrow their pots every 1 to 2 years. The best time to check the root structure and consider re-potting is early spring. If the roots have completely filled the current pot it’s a good time to consider stepping up to the next container size. 

When repotting, it’s important to use a suitable bonsai soil mix. These will have the correct balance of peat and perlite with some added feed to ensure your tree gets all the nutrients it needs.

Wrap-up

Nurturing a bonsai tree at home is a really rewarding pastime. By following a few simple steps each week you’ll quickly learn to understand your own tree’s unique needs and preferences. Before you know it you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master in the art of bonsai. Enjoy!

 

How to Grow Calatheas

Calathea is one of the prettiest tropical houseplants from the Marantaceae family that you can have in your home or office.

If you want to create a jungle feel in your home, then you simply have to include some leafy Calathea plants. All of them require similar care, which makes your job easier.

Types of Calathea

There are a lot of different species of Calathea plant, over several dozen of them, with distinctive colors, shapes, and sizes. They are mostly grown in pots and containers. Let’s check some of the most popular ones.

 

Calathea orbifolia

Calathea orbifolia is one of the largest-leafed Calathea plants. Each leaf can grow up to 30cm (12″) wide!

Its leaves have a round shape and striped, metallic appearance. This species forms a dense clump, with new leaves developing from the middle part of the plant.

Calathea orbifolia

©Thompson & Morgan – Calathea orbifolia

Calathea orbifolia, like most other Calathea species, likes a warm environment, where the temperatures are between 18°C (65°F) and 24°C (75°F).

 

Calathea ornata ‘Sanderiana’

Calathea ornata ‘Sanderiana’ is one type of Calathea ornata species. The most important difference between the mother plant and ‘Sanderiana’ is in the leaves. ‘Sanderiana’ leaves are shorter and not so spear- shaped as common Calathea ornata’s leaves.

Because of the distinctive foliage striping,’ Sanderiana’ has earned a nickname ‘Pin Stripe plant’, which is shared with many other cultivars of Calathea ornata.

Calathea 'Sanderiana'

©Thompson & Morgan – Calathea ‘Sanderiana’

The plant has very glossy, broad, and colorful leaves, with the dark green topside, combined with rose feather-like stripes, while bottom sides are dark purple.

The stem is purple, and it can grow up to 60cm (2ft) in height when the plant reaches peak maturity.

 

Calathea zebrina

Calathea zebrina, otherwise known as Zebra Plant, is one of the Calatheas that are very commonly found almost everywhere, even though it originates from Brazil.

It has very distinctive green stripes on the leaves, which look like Zebra patterns, hence the name. The underside of the leaves is purple, like with some other Calathea species.

Fully grown Calathea zebrina can be up to 90cm (36″) height and width and have leaves that are over 30cm (12″) in length.

Calathea zebrina

©Thompson & Morgan – Calathea zebrina

Calathea zebrina can also produce white and purple flowers during springtime, which is not so common for Calatheas.

 

Calathea roseopicta

Calathea roseopicta, otherwise known by the name of Rose Painted Calathea, has big glossy and circular green leaves, which are also purple on the underside.

What is distinctive about this Calathea subspecies is that every leaf has a very pretty pattern, which looks like a leaf inside the leaf. There are also different cultivars of this plant that have leaves with different patterns.

The plant usually grows up to 60cm (24″) in height and width. It likes moist soil, which is capable to provide excellent drainage.

 

 

Calathea roseopicta Medaillon

©Thompson & Morgan – Calathea roseopicta Medaillon

 

Calathea rufibarba

Calathea rufibarba doesn’t look like most other Calatheas at first glance. It doesn’t have similar markings and colors, but it is still very beautiful.

It is also known under the name of Velvet Calathea, as well as Furry Feather because its leaves look like feathers and have a distinctive texture that resembles fur on the bottom side of leaves.

Another characteristic of this plant is burgundy stems that are quite long, and the plant itself can grow up to 60cm (24″) in height and width.

Calathea rufibarba

©Shutterstock – Calathea rufibarba

Calathea Care

Calatheas need sunlight, of course, but not direct sun. They thrive the most in the shade because they are tropical plants, and are mostly found in the jungles. Exposing them to direct sunlight might cause burns on the leaves.

They prefer distilled water. You can also use water purified through filters to water these plants. Even though Calatheas like moist soil, make sure not to overwater.

Being tropical plants, Calatheas like warm temperature, between 18°C (65°F) and 24°C (75°F). Also, make sure to put them in a humid environment.

Calathea in a window

©Thompson & Morgan – Calatheas need sunlight, but not direct sun.

Fertilizing is not essential for Calatheas, but if you insist, you can use normal fertilizer for indoor plants during the autumn, spring, and summer.

Propagation of Calathea Plants

It is possible to propagate Calatheas from divisions, simply by repotting them. New divisions need to be kept moist and in a warm place. It is also advised to cover them with plastic and put them on indirect light until they start growing again. Always use the fresh potting mixture to grow a new plant.

Pruning Calathea Plants

Calatheas do not require any special pruning. The only thing you might worry about is removing occasional leaves that have turned brown or yellow.

 

 

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