All about Hibiscus – History, Meaning, Facts, Care & More

If you noticed the flower in a girl’s hair above the ear, that is a flower of Hibiscus. More than its beauty and colorful blooms, Hibiscus has been used throughout the century for a wide range of uses and purposes. This Queen of the Tropics grows in the wild mostly in the tropical and subtropical regions all over the world. It is native to Hawaii and it is the National Flower of Malaysia. From the Malvaceae family under Hibiscus genus, this flower comes in 220 species. They are considered annuals, perennials, and shrubs.

Hibiscus comes from the Greek word “hibiskos” which means marshmallow. The large trumpet-like flowers are mostly flat with five petals that can grow from 4-15 centimeters wide. They come in white, pink, red, yellow, and purple colors. The most popular species of Hibiscus is the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis or the China Rose. The flowers come in a variety of colors, sizes, and species. Aside from China Rose hibiscus, another famous variety or species of Hibiscus is the Yellow Hibiscus which is native to Hawaii. In fact, this is the official flower of Hawaii since 1923 and specifically declared the yellow variety in 1988. The yellow Hbiscus is known in alternative names such as Ma’o hau hele, Mokulei rosemallow, and Aloalo.

  • History of Hibiscus

When it comes to origin, the Hibiscus plant does not have one. It is a tropical plant seen in different parts of the world where the climate and environment are tropical and subtropical. It is native to Hawaii, China, India, Mauritius, Fiji, Madagascar, and other parts of Asia and America. The environmental condition ideal for this plant is at places near the equator.

  • Hibiscus Flower Meaning

The specific meaning of the flower of Hibiscus may vary depending on the culture, location, and beholder. Moreover, in general, this flower means a flower that symbolizes and signifies femininity. It is worn by women or given to women in North America to show the ideal characteristics of a woman she has. In Victorian era, this flower was given to a woman to let her know that she has such an amazing beauty. In addition, this flower symbolizes fame and glory in China and it can be given both to men and women.

According to color, the flower of Hibiscus also means a thing. White Hibiscus signifies purity while yellow symbolizes happiness. Pink is meant for friendship and love in general (not romantic), while purple is for mystery and elegance. Red hibiscus, the most common one, is a symbol of romance and love.

  • Hibiscus Facts

Hibiscus is a plant that can grow in a bush or as tall as a tree. Trees of this species sometimes reach up to 15 feet high. The flowers have five petals, sometimes more, with both the male and female reproductive organs in each bloom. The flowers are in trumpet-like shape while the leaves are in lanceolate and toothed edges. Although this flower is not scented, it attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds by its nectar.

People in china call this flower as the “shoe flower” because they use its blooms to clean their shoes and make them polished and sparkling. People in Polyneasia also use the fibers present in the barks to create grass skirts. In Tahiti and Hawaii, girls wear the flower on the right ear to tell that they are still single while a woman wears the flower on the left side to let the people know that she is already married.

Hibiscus flowers are used for soups, chutneys, salads, jellies, jams, and curries because of its citrus-like taste. Some dishes can also be added with this flower for a unique taste. The flowers can be dried, too, for beverages and drinks. Dried hibiscus makes a delicious tea. It has been studied that it does not only taste good but also contains medicinal benefits. It has vitamin C and it can help reduce high blood pressure, decrease cholesterol levels, and improve the immune system.

Flowers of hibiscus can be used as a natural food dye and cloth dye. It can also be used to dye eyebrows and hair. The leaves can be used as shampoo, too. A specific variety, the Hibiscus Cannabinus, is also the main source for paper manufacturing in some parts of the world.

Most of the Hibiscus varieties nowadays are developed and cultivated. Among the largest producers and developers of this plant are China and Thailand. The most common varieties include Hibiscus Sinosyriacus or Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus Cannabinus or Beach Hibiscus, Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis or China Rose, Hibiscus Sabdariffa or Roselle, and Hibiscus Tiliaceus or Sea Hibiscus.

  • How to Care for Hibiscus

According to a local flower shop in Singapore, the hibiscus plant prefers well-drained soil that has good texture and highly organic materials. Cuttings will soon root up and can be planted in gardens or pots. While still young, you can do some pinching and pruning to allow the plant to grow and have new young branches. To prevent the plant from wilting, thorough watering is needed during summer and spring days. During winter days, you can add mulch to protect the plant. If you want to keep insects and aphids away, you can use insecticidal soap once in a while.

If you want to enjoy the tropical-style of garden and landscape in your front yard or backyard, this is the plant that you can ideally add. This hardy plant can grow into bushes and give you beautiful flowers on its season. Your garden will surely be a place for butterflies and birds if you have Hibiscus in one corner.