Hibiscus flower: How to grow and care for your hibiscus plant

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Dubbed the queen of the tropical flower, the hibiscus rosa sinensis is not only beautiful to look at, but the Malaysian national flower also has an abundance of health benefits. If you’re looking to grow hibiscus flowers at home, here are four simple steps to get started.

© 123rf

Named after the Greek god ἰβίσκος (Hibikos), Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (or Bunga Raya in Malay) is a flower we’re all familiar with. A symbol of courage, life and the rapid growth of the Malaysians, the trumpet-shaped flower was declared as the national flower of Malaysia in 1960, beating out other strong contenders such as ylang-ylang, jasmine, lotus, rose, magnolia and medlar. 

Dubbed the Queen of Tropical Flowers, hibiscus flowers thrive in heat and humidity and grow abundantly in our country. Not to mention, it’s also incredibly easy to care for. You can also brew hibiscus tea to drink as it’s said to have an abundance of health benefits like lowering blood pressure, reduce hair loss and boost liver health. 

Did you know that the five conspicuous petals of the hibiscus flower represent the Rukun Negara?

We spoke to Jan Zainal the Garden Fairy from Taman Hati and here are her tips on how to grow and care for hibiscus plants. 

How to propagate Hibiscus flower

© Jan Zainal

Step 1: Choose the ideal planting location for your hibiscus flower

© Jan Zainal

Hibiscus flowers need bright, direct sunlight to thrive. So placing them in your outdoor garden, balcony or near a sunny window will keep them happy and blooming.

Step 2: Prepare the soil

It’s important to note that the hibiscus flower flourishes in moist but well-drained condition. Enrich the soil with mulch, organic matter or worm compost (rich digested soil that worms leave behind) for optimal growth. Go for neutral to slightly acidic soil by mixing in a sulfur compound to lower the pH value of the soil. 

Read more: 4 simple steps to start composting

Step 3: Plant the hibiscus flower

© Jan Zainal

Now comes the exciting part. First, dig a hole in the planting site, then remove the hibiscus flower plant from its nursery container before placing it in the planting hole. Fill the planting hole halfway then water well to settle the plant and eliminate any air pockets. Continue the process until the planting hole is filled before adding a layer of earthworm casting around the base. Water until the soil is moistened. 

Step 4: Give your hibiscus flower some tender, loving, care

@ Jan Zainal

Hibiscus flowers are easy to maintain as long as they get enough sunlight and water. Over and under-watering are two of the main culprits of bud drop. To avoid killing your hibiscus plant, water twice a week to keep them hydrated. For days when the weather is particularly hot and dry, water it every day to keep the soil moist.

Hibiscus plants also attract pests like aphids, thrips and mites, and these troublesome creatures feed on the leaves – causing holes, wilting and discolouration. Treat these pests with oil-free insecticidal soap or wettable powder Malathion pesticide. As with all plants, you should fertilise them weekly to promote regular blooms. Use water-based organic fertiliser for faster absorption. These can be bought from any nursery or hardware stores.

Hibiscus flowers are not only beautiful, but they’re also easy to care for. So if you’re looking for a tropical touch to add to your garden, then you’ve just found the perfect one! 

What are the benefits of hibiscus tea?

Aside from beautifying your home garden, you can also make a pot of hibiscus flower tea by boiling the plant. And it is said that there are tons of health benefits of drinking hibiscus flower tea too! Let’s check them out:

1. Lower blood pressure

The hibiscus flower tea shown potential in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure. While more research still needs to be performed, high blood pressure patients may benefit from drinking a cup of hibiscus flower tea daily.

2. Reduce blood fat levels

Drinking a cup of hibiscus flower tea daily may help in reducing blood fat levels, and in turn reduce heart disease risk factors. In a study performed on a group of 60 people, those who consistently drank a cup of hibiscus flower tea daily experienced an increase in their good cholesterol levels (HDL) and a reduction in their bad cholesterol levels (LDL).

3. Weight loss

If you’re looking to lose some weight, try drinking the hibiscus flower tea. In a study performed on 36 overweight participants, those who were given hibiscus extract for 12 weeks experienced a reduction in body weight, body fat, body mass index and hip-to-waist ratio. The same study performed on overweight mice for 60 days also showed positive results with reductions in body weight.

4. Antioxidant

The Hibiscus flower tea is packed with antioxidants, molecules that help fight compounds called free radicals, which cause damage to your cells. In other words, drinking a cup of hibiscus flower tea daily may help prevent cancer. 

What are the side effects of drinking hibiscus tea?

While there are many benefits to drinking the hibiscus flower tea daily, too much of a good thing can still become detrimental to your health if you overdo it. Do limit yourself to one cup a day or maybe two, as there are reports that say drinking too much hibiscus flower tea may cause dizziness and fatigue due to its effect on lowering your blood pressure. Other side effects from drinking too much hibiscus tea includes nausea, constipation and painful urination, and drinking too much hibiscus tea can even give you tinnitus.

As a herbal drink, the hibiscus tea may also interfere with medications you are taking and produce unanticipated side effects. Some of the drugs that the hibiscus tea has been known to interfere with includes antihypertensive drugs and diabetes medication, and if you are on birth control pills, the hibiscus tea may even undermine the effects of the medication.

To get started on your hibiscus plants, visit any of the top 9 plant nurseries in Malaysia for all your plant needs.

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