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Growing Your Own Hibiscus Sabdariffa Plant

Growing Hibiscus Sabdariffa

While Hibiscus sabdariffa is a native plant of the tropics, given the right care they are also perfectly capable of being grown and harvested in northern climates with seasonal temperatures. Also known as roselle or sorrel, they are similar to humans in that they thrive best and are healthiest in moderate conditions. Moderation is key; Whether you are dealing with temperature, water, or fertilizer, too much or too little is harmful. A healthy hibiscus will produce quality calyxes for consumption.

Steps for Seeding

  1. Be sure to nick the bottom of the seed, the flat part, before planting. If there is no seed meat, it will not grow.
  2. If you live in a climate that has unpredictable spring weather or weather that is too wet, it is best to plant hibiscus seeds in early spring in trays. You can then move them indoors if the weather becomes hostile.
  3. Wait to plant them in the garden until they are established enough to not be tipped over by an exceptionally hard rain. Tipping can kill a new seedling quickly. It is probably safe to move them outside after they get to be about three inches tall.
  4. Seeds will typically germinate between ten days to three weeks after planting. After planting the seeds, keep them lightly watered, enough to keep the soil moist but not wet.
  5. Spray them with a mist bottle three or four times per day.

Hibiscus sabdariffa can die at temperatures below 40°F or 4°C.

Pot or Garden Planting?

If you live in a cooler climate and don't have a greenhouse or an adequate place indoors, you may need to adjust the time of planting described above accordingly to ensure there will be no temperatures that are too cold. Hibiscus sabdariffa can die at temperatures below 40°F or 4°C. If you live in an area with frequent frosts, planting in-ground may not be an option.

If in doubt, grow your hibiscus in containers.

When planting outside, choose an area that will be in full sunlight. If you live in a consistently warm climate, this is not as critical. In most circumstances, however, they thrive best with as much sunlight as possible. The soil needs to be amended to not retain water. If you don't have any well-drained soil on your property, you will need to adjust the area where you decide to plant by adding a few inches worth of a combination of sand and peat moss. The ideal ratio should be 2:1:1 of soil, peat moss, and sand, respectively.

Immature Hibiscus sabdariffa that, climate permitting, is ready to be ground planted.

Immature Hibiscus sabdariffa that, climate permitting, is ready to be ground planted.

Hibiscus Sabdariffa Care

If it has been cold lately, pay more attention to the weather forecast, and bring them indoors. If their soil is too wet, cut down on the amount of water. Here are some other things to be cautious of.


Water the soil when it becomes dry to the touch. To reiterate, water only enough to make the soil moist, not wet.


It is critical to use the right type of fertilizer. The fertilizer needs to be one with low phosphorus, moderate nitrogen, and high potassium. Fertilize every two to three weeks. If the leaves are turning brown at the tips, that is a sign they are getting too much nitrogen. That is a warning sign of stress, but don't panic, just prune the bad leaves and adjust your fertilizer frequency.

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Read More From Dengarden

Hidden Valley Hibiscus recommends a 17N - 5P - 24K fertilizer. The most critical aspect of the fertilizer is that the phosphorus content is low. Too much phosphorus can sicken a hibiscus in a matter of a couple of weeks.

Signs of Stress

Apart from freezing temperatures, a grown, established hibiscus usually gives ample notice of stress before it is killed. The usual sign that you are doing something wrong is when the leaves turn yellow. Look at what they may have been getting in excess. Remember how the recent weather has been.

The most common reasons for leaves turning yellow are the wrong amount of water, too cold of a temperature, not enough water, or the wrong amount of nutrients. While too much nitrogen will turn leaves brown, most other problems will cause yellow leaves. If they are not getting enough sunlight, you will need to move them. This is a less extensive task if they are potted rather than in-ground.

Harvesting the Calyx

Calyxes are easiest to remove and cut when they are fresh. When they are first fully grown, they can be snapped off of the plant quite easily by hand. If you wait until they harden, then you will probably need to use pruners.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Jawesere olalekan on January 02, 2019:

I need to know full details of hibiscus(roselle) prooagation,the right type of fertilizer time and method of application,how to control weeds in a large and commercial plantation

Marybess on August 25, 2013:

My plants are huge and beautiful. No blooms!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 24, 2013:

Yes, I would like one please. Interesting plants need a home in my yard. Thank you for sharing this. Did I miss this? Is it related to the hibiscus with the lovely flowers?

Angels are on the way to you today ps

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