Hibiscus is both a culinary & medicinal herb. It is commonly used to for high blood pressure, liver health & hangovers to name just a few. The bright red calyxes of the hibiscus plant can be used to make "red zinger" tea (tea needs to be boiled to get the deep red color & flavor. Simmer for 10-20 min. or longer.), sauce, syrup & jam (you don’t need to add pectin because hibiscus leaves contain 3 percent pectin.), or candied whole. The leaves can be used fresh in salads. Cut open calyxes & remove the white seed capsule at the base, then rinse prior to use.
To grow hibiscus from seed you must first nick or sand the seeds to get moisture into the seeds in order to improve the germination rate.
In temperate zones, start hibiscus in pots at the same time as you would tomatoes. When seedlings are 3" - 4" high, transplant them to a sunny spot in the garden. Hibiscus grows well in soil with a high level of organic matter, but too much nitrogen will delay flowering. Keep plants evenly moist & well-weeded until they are 1 1/2' - 2' high. Once this height is reached, mulch the plants to keep weeds at bay for the rest of the season.
Pick young calyxes by hand when still tender or use garden clippers once stems have gotten tough. Pick approx. 10 days after flowers open at the beginning or the end of the day. Harvesting the calyxes early promotes greater yields. Around 6 weeks, the young edible leaves & shoots can be picked.
Fresh calyxes are typically dried or dehydrated prior to storage. You can keep them fresh in the refridgerator for 4 – 7 days. Leaves & stem tips can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week.
Cut the base of the calyx with a knife & pop out the seed ball. Note: calyxes may have tiny fine spines that can get stuck in your fingers. Place the leafy red part in your dehydrator & dry per your dehydrators instructions. You can discard or safe the seed pods. If saving, it is best to dry them separately from the red calyx petals. Dry the seeds per your dehydrators instructions. Once dry, the pods will crack open. You can then shake & dump out the seeds into a light proof saleable container. Keep in a cool dry environment until ready to plant.
Temperature for Germination: 75 - 85°F
Sow Indoors: 4–8 weeks before average last frost.
Direct Sow: After average last frost.
Size: 36" - 60"
Hardiness: Frost-tender perennial
Sun: Full (needs 13 hours of light to bloom)
Water: Low - Moderate
Plant Spacing: 3'
Seed Planting Depth: 1/4" - 1/2"
Row Spacing: 5'
Days to Germination: 7 - 14 days
Maturity: 90 - 100 days
Harvest: 90 - 150 days
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