Hibiscus schizopetalus

Source: Own work

Hibiscus schizopetalus

Hibiscus schizopetalus or Chinese Lantern is an ornamental shrub with extraordinary coral colored pendant flowers. The flowers look like little Chinese lanterns, hence its common name.

It grows very fast and may require pruning for control.

It can be grown in pot as an orangery plant, annual or even as a houseplant. In USDA zones 10 and 11 it can be used as a hedge.

Description:

The leaves are alternately arranged, ovate to oblong, toothed, 2-12 cm long and 1-7.5 cm wide.

The flowers are single and measure 5-8 cm. They hang from stems that can measure up to 16 cm long. The calyx is composed of 2 to 4 tines beneath which are the small outer sepals. The five petals are coral red, strongly curved and incised. From the center of the flower hangs a column measuring up to 9 cm long with numerous yellow anthers at the top. The summit is often curved and topped with five stigmas.

The fruits are oblong capsules, measuring up to 3.5 cm long.

Common names:

Chinese lantern, coral Hibiscus, East-African Hibiscus, fringed Hibiscus, fringed rose-mallow, Japanese Hibiscus, Japanese Lantern, Skeleton Hibiscus, Waltzing Ladies

Synonym:

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis var. schizopetalus

Etymology:

Hibiscus: from the Greek hibiskos (marshmallow)
Schizopetalus: from schizo (split) and petalus (petal)

Origin:

East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, northern Mozambique

Hardiness:

USDA zone 10, 0 °C

Height:

3 m

Flowering:

April to November. The flowers are less abundant than Hibiscus rosa-sinensis but they are spectacular.

Care:

 

Soil:

Rich, drained

Exposure:

Sun

Water:

Keep the soil moist: daily watering in summer, less in winter

Feed:

Fertilize twice a month with a universal liquid fertilizer, from April to September. Fertilizing does not stimulate flowering like with Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.

Pruning:

Unlike Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, pruning does not promote flowering, on the contrary: pruning limits or completely eliminates flowering. This poses a problem to keep the plant indoors because the growth is very strong and the shrub produces very long stems. It is recommended to prune every 3-4 years.

Temperature:

Can be left outside in the summer but requires at least 12-15 °C in winter. Resistant to very brief frosts but will lose all its leaves.

Propagation:

By softwood cuttings or layering in the spring. The cuttings are more likely to succeed if they are dipped in rooting hormone and kept moist.

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