Monday, June 7, 2010
Hibiscus is a red 5 petaled flower. This was my opinion till I was about 15 years old when I started seeing the other varieties of hibiscus. The reason behind the assumption was the nature of the flower that grew in my grandparents house in Chennai. Plucking those flowers and arranging it for the pooja along with cousins was a whole lot of fun. You would find a hibiscus tree in almost every garden in Chennai(mostly red ones). You see that trend in Bangalore too, but what amazes me is the variety of colors that I see here. Pink, red, yellow, multicolored, double hibiscus the variety is just mind boggling. Unfortunately due to the increase in the number of apartments in the city the number of hibiscus possessing houses are reducing. What some people dont realize(I too was in this category) is that this plant can be grown at home in your balcony in a pot. It does require attention but the rewards are very pleasing.
It is just so relaxing to see these plants in full bloom. The flowers do not last more than half a day. But once you get a reasonable sized plant you are definitely get many flowers in a week.
My love for Hibiscus was rekindled thanks to my wife. We got two plants way back in 2007. But our knowledge of plant maintenance was low and unfortunately we lost both of them. However, after lot of reading I realized that the plant requires lots of care and protection and started working on getting new plants and maintaining them. You can pick up a healthy one at a local nursery. I stay in Marathahalli and around the area there are many nurseries that house Hibiscus. Another place where I have found good hibiscus plants are at the Nursery maintained by the Association for people with disabilities in Jeevan Bhima Nagar. Obviously Lalbagh is the other choice provided you are willing to go through the traffic. Remember, you do not have to buy a plant that is in full bloom at the nursery to get the best of the lot. Make sure it looks healthy, i.e. leaves are in one piece, you dont see any webs spun on the plant, nor should you see to many ants moving around on it. Buy a small plant so that you can have the fun of seeing it grow.
Some tips on maintaining the hibiscus:
They need to be watered and fertilized regularly.
Two spoonfuls of organic fertilizer and bone meal every fortnight has worked well for me on these plants.
Apart from this, I apply a spoonful of this substance called Suppola which I picked up from the JeevanBhimaNagar nursery. This is supposed to help the plants flower better( I am still not sure if this is organic and how much impact it is having on my plant flowering. Will find out more and update). Even a rose mix would be sufficient. I did see a solution that was specialized for the growth of hibiscus plants, but did not know the chemical content. So still not tried it yet.
Water daily(if required twice) with good drainage in the pots. These plants like their soil to be moist. Dry soil kills the hibiscus plants slowly. So ensure that the soil is moist. Also do not allow the soil to harden. Try to loosen it up every week with a garden tool or a screwdriver. Do not over water too. Signs of overwatering are your leaves turning yellow.
Hibiscus are prone to insects. Spidermites, Ants, and Mealy Bugs can kill this plant in a few days. I lost my first few hibiscus to Spidermites and ants. You will need to make sure that these insects are away from the plant. Once they start spreading it is almost impossible to stop them. Some ways of keeping the bugs away are by using Neem oil mix, mild soap solution and regular vigourous spraying of these plants with water.
I am still experimenting on trimming these plants and would not give much advice about it. Do let me know if you have some experience on this. I like to keep my plants short to make it feasible to maintain in a balcony. So I trim according to my needs and have so far been lucky to have not lost a plant.
That's a big post for the first day of hibiscus experience. I will hopefully say more soon.