High on hibiscus

A yellow hibiscus PHOTO: M MURALI   | Photo Credit: M_MURALI

In the '80's we could only view the exotic and brilliantly-coloured hybrid hibiscus, in the hot house in Lalbagh. On certain days, the research section was opened to the public and we oohed and aahed over the beautiful, large blooms enviously. Today the plants are sold for a reasonable price in nurseries across the city.

Two varieties are available — the garden variety and the hybrid one. The garden variety hibiscus is the one we are all familiar with from our childhood - the simple hibiscus flowers on large bushes that grew as high as our houses. They usually come in only a single solid color, or possibly a mix of two colours. The flowers are small and not very dramatic to look at. In contrast, hybrid hibiscus bushes usually don’t grow as big or as vigorously as the garden variety, but the flowers are much more spectacular. The tropical hybrids produce large multi-coloured flowers. There is nothing more rewarding than the beautiful blooms these exotic plants produce.

A personal favourite is the blue, lavender, pink and red hibiscus called Hollywood Starlet. It blooms with large, multicolored 7-9" ruffly flowers in tangerine, lavender, and pink with a dark red eye. The bush is full, lush, and medium sized. Another beauty is soft, pretty and ruffled one called Dreamy Morning. Its large 7-9" single flower glows in pastel yellow, orange and pink, and a two-toned red eye. Hot Babe has large, ruffled 7-9" flowers in shades of orange with a bold fuchsia pink eye. These dramatic tropical beauties can be grown in large containers or in the ground, and they thrive in Bangalore's climate.

“It is one of my favourite flowers and they come in such pretty colours,” shares Snehalatha Naidu who has them growing on her rooftop garden in Fraser Town, in pots. “I could never anything shoe-like about them and wondered why they were called shoe flowers. Then I found out that they were used to shine shoes in certain parts of India. The white ones are medicinal and used a lot in hair oil. These flowers are also edible and used in salads.”

They're easy to grow. All they need is sun, soil fed with mulch, and pruning once in a while.

Fausto Cardozo who lives in Koramangala says, “In Egypt (and perhaps elsewhere) they make tea out of dried hibiscus flowers, we bought a packet when we went there.”

“In my house in HSR Layout, I have around ten varieties and each flower is huge and colourful. They are simple to cross breed and bring about an amazing range of colours and flowers. Relatively disease free, the plant is easy to grow in our Bangalore gardens with our climatic conditions," remarks Dr AN Yellappa Reddy the former secretary, department of environment and ecology.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 5:01:56 AM |

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