Light Red Flower of Chinese Hibiscus
Light Red Flower of Chinese Hibiscus

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Description, Care and Uses

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) belongs to that great group of plants that are not tired of blooming. And blooming unfolds a huge colorful flower range in the most unexpected shapes.

The following article gives the opportunity to present this plant, whose flower – amongst others – is also the Malaysian national symbol.

This great event led the editorial team of ‘Kalliergeia‘ to indulge on the topic of symbols and to deepen.

So its came to the conclusion that should publicly state its point of view on a matter that was of great concern to it: the topic – the issue – is about the flag of the European Union countries.

The editorial team of ‘Kalliergeia’ therefore proposes as in position of the flag stars get flowers. More specifically, the flowers of another very popular and widespread Hibiscus species, Hibiscus esculentus L. – that is, Okra.

We have the firm belief that this will be perfectly worthy of what the present European Union represents and advocates.

The abundant flowering of Chinese Hibiscus and the intense colors of its flowers attract the gaze.

Tropical Hibiscus Flowering Plant in Garden
Tropical Hibiscus Flowering Plant in Garden
Τυπωθήτω | Print

Chinese Hibiscus Origin

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Chinese Hibiscus) - Map of Origin
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Chinese Hibiscus) - Map of Origin

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Stamens & 5 Stigmas Style of Chinese Hibiscus
Stamens & 5 Stigmas Style of Chinese Hibiscus

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Brief Description

Family: Malvaceae


Scientific name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L.

Common name: Chinese Hibiscus, Tropical Hibiscus, China Rose, Hawaiian Hibiscus, Rose

General Characteristics

Leaf Persistence



Vase Shape Shrub



Growth Rate


Flowering Period (Tropics)

Year Round

Fruiting Period

Year Round


3-5 m (9.8-16.4 ft)


1.5-3 m (4.9-9.8 ft)

Shapes and Colors

Leaves Shape


Foliage Colour


Autumn Foliage Colour


Flowers Shape


Flowers Colour



Brown Capsule


Soil type: Well-drained, sand, loam

Exposure: Sun

Soil pH: 6-7.5

Watering: Moderate

Hardiness: 1.7 °C (35 °F – USDA Hardiness zone 10b)


Specimen, hedges, mass planting, parks, pots and containers

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Red Flower of Chinese Hibiscus in Pot
Red Flower of Chinese Hibiscus in Pot

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Etymology

Etymology of the Genus Name

The name of the genus Hibiscus is a Latin word derived from the Ancient Greek Ιβίσκος. With this name described the plant Althea (Μολόχα) the important Greek physician and botanist of the 1st CE century Dioscorides, who originated in Tarsus of Cilicia – a city of Turkey located very close to the borders of the once prosperous and now – at the time of writing – unfortunately still martyr Syria. The word Ιβίσκος itself, on the other hand, is of unknown etymology, while it is speculated that it has Pre-Greek origins.

Etymology of the Species Name

The name rosa – sinensis is a Neo-Latin phrase that is composed – that’s amazing! – by the words rosa and sinensis. The word rosa derives its origin from the Spanish rosa, which comes from Latin rosa, which comes from Ancient Greek ῥόδον and means rose.

The second word sinensis comes from Ancient Greek Σῖναι, which probably originates from the Sanskrit word चीन and means China. That is, the name of the species rosa – sinensis is finally translated as China rose or rose of China.

At this point, the editorial team of ‘Kalliergeia’ feels the urgent need to state that the botanical name of the species is one of the most misplaced in the history of the scientific name of the plants. And the reason will be apparent from the following writing.

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Origin & Life Span


Although it is called China rose or rose of China, Chinese Hibiscus neither rose nor Chinese it is – exclusively. In all probability it is and Chinese, and East Indian, and East African and most of the tropical areas around the Equatorial Line, with the exception of the sea.

In other words, this amazing bush with the beautiful flowers is of unknown origin.

Life Span

Tropical Hibiscus, planted in the appropriate soil-climate environment, can become one of the best friends of man. It lives a little longer than the dog, often exceeding the age of 50, and unlike the dog it does not bite.

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Morphological Elements

Chinese Hibiscus is an evergreen (in tropical) perennial vase-shaped shrub, of rather upright habit. With the appropriate prunings however, it can be formed into a small tree with one or more trunks.

Its canopy is symmetrical, of medium textured and density. And the canopy of the plant with the appropriate pruning can take shapes other than the natural – although its usual formed as spherical.

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Tropical Hibiscus Twig & Leaves
Tropical Hibiscus Twig & Leaves

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Botanical Description

Twigs & Shoots

The shoots of the plant are mainly vertical. At young age, the twigs, are medium-thick, slightly pubescent and reddish. The mature shoots are hairless and covered with greyish-brown bark.


The leaves are simple, bright green coloured, with few minute hairs on the nerves beneath. They are arranged alternately on the shoots and are oval-shaped. They lead to a acuminate apex and have smooth margins at the base and serrate at the rest of the section. The length of leaves varies between 4 and 13 cm (1.57-5.11 in), while their width is between 2 and 7 cm (0.78-2.75 in).


Tropical Hibiscus has single, hermaphrodite, funnel-shaped flowers. They are usually erect in the axillary of the leaves and are restrained by a pedicle of length 1 to 7 cm (0.4-2.75 in). The calyx has a bell-shaped morph and consists of 5 light green coloured sepals.

The corola is formed by 5 wrinkled petals and is 4 to 10 cm (1.57-3.93 in) wide. The petals are obovate, clawed with an obtuse apex and with crenate margins.Their length ranging from 5 to 9 cm (1.96-3.54 in) and their width from 3 to 7 cm (1.18-2.75 in).


Pollination occurs mainly by birds and secondarily by insects – the latter include of course bees and butterflies.


The fruit of Chinese Hibiscus is an oval shaped five-cell capsule. It is smooth, bears numerous seeds, has a brown color and a length of between 2 and 2.5 cm (0.78-0.98 in).

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Climate & Soil


Tropical Hibiscus does not tolerate low temperatures. The minimum temperatures, which are also the lowest strength limit, range between 4 to 1,7 °C (40-35 °F). Of course fully established trees can, for a short time, tolerate temperatures of 0 to -4 up to -6 °C (32 to 24.8 up to 21.2 °F), with manageable damages.

At high temperatures the plant’s behavior is excellent. AHS classifies the plant in zones 6-11 and indeed, temperatures often reaching 40 °C (104 °F) have no negative effect on the plant except one: flowering stops. And it stops because Hibiscus blooms at temperatures ranging between 18 and 28 to 32 °C (64.4 and 82.4 to 89.6 °F).

In relation to the maximums, it does not face problems even in those areas where they reach 40+ °C. 

Soil and pH

Chinese Hibiscus growing in a variety of soil types provided they drain well. Soils that water logged should be avoided or added sand or other similar materials to improve their structure.

Fertile, loam sandy and loam soils are best suited for Hibiscus planting. For pot plants optimum soil mixture consisting of 2 parts excellent quality potting soil, 1 part peat moss, 1 part compost neutral pH and 1 part perlite or zeolite.

As for pH, it grows in a range of values ranging from 6 to 7.5, but prefers slightly acidic soils with values ranging from 6.5 to 6.8.


Tropical Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is always planted in full sun exposure. Even when grown as an indoor plant, extraordinarily bright places should be selected.

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Hedge of Tropical Hibiscus
Hedge of Tropical Hibiscus

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Care


Chinese Hibiscus fertilization is carried out from beginning of spring until the beginning of autumn. Can be used a complete fertilizer with main elements N-P-K in a ratio of 1: 1: 1.5 (12-12-17) or 1: 1:1 (20-20-20). Administration is done once, if it is controlled release, or in doses at a frequency of 1 every 15 to 20 days. 

The indicative total amount of administration for adult shrubs is 150 to 300 gr (0.33 – 0.66 lb). The 1/3 of the quantity is given by the first application, while over the same period, administration of Magnesium Sulphate is necessary. No other fertilization required after the beginning of autumn.

Regarding the organic matter of the soil, it is recommended to add 25 to 50 liters of neutral pH compost per plant in late autumn with early winter.

In relation to the maximums, it does not face problems even in those areas where they reach 40+ °C. 


Tropical Hibiscus needs systematic irrigation for satisfactory flower production but also for covering the water needs of the plant in general. That is why in no case is the soil allowed to dry. The same applies to the soil mixture in potted plants.


Generally, systematic pruning is beneficial for the plant, whether it’s shrub or tree. However, more evidence of Chinese Hibiscus pruning, will find the patient reader in a future tribute, which we are committed to doing – by the conspicuous (in)consequence that distinguishes us – with this exclusively subject.

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Pests & Diseases

Chinese Hibiscus has some problems from pests and diseases. In most cases, the issue is rather aesthetic but there are also some that can become a major problem.


Immediately below are recorded the most important pests of the plant.

Various Insects
  • Aleurodicus dispersus (Spiralling Whitefly)
  • Aleurodicus dugesii (Giant Whitefly)
  • Aphis (Aphids)
  • Tetranychus urticae (Red Spider Mite)
  • Oligonychus ilicis (Southern Red Mite)
  • Pinnaspis strachani (Lesser Snow Scale)
  • Paratachardina pseudolobata (Lobate Lac Scale)
  • Phenococcus solenopsis (Cotton Mealybug)
  • Paracoccus marginatus (Marginal Mealybug)
  • Ferrisia virgata (Spotted Mealybug)

By using the appropriate insecticides and acaricides their treatment is satisfactory.


After the pests, the recording of the diseases follows.

  • Phyllosticta dioscoreae
  • Phytophthora nicotianae(Black Shank)
  • Pseudomonas syringae hibiscus (Bacterial Leaf Spot)
  • Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae (Bacterial Canker)
  • Pseudomonas cichorii (Bacterial Blight Of Endive)

By the timely use of appropriate formulations the treatment of fungi is satisfactory, while the control of bacteria is extremely difficult.

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Toxicity & Allergenicity


Chinese Hibiscus is not toxic to humans and pets.


Direct skin contact with plant parts of Tropical Hibiscus may cause dermatitis, irritation or skin rash in people with plant sensitivity.

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Varieties

Chinese Hibiscus is an extremely widespread species both as a garden and landscape plant and as an indoor plant. This makes it easy to understand how the varieties number a few thousand, which implies that no sane writer or editorial team would attempt to record them all.

Instead, a writer or editorial team renowned for their acumen and ingenuity would choose just 20 varieties. The patient ‘Kalliergeia’ reader will probably understand what editorial team we are talking about – for the writer we have no idea.

The Varieties of the Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Varieties with Variegated Leaves

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Tricolor’ (syn. ‘Cooperi’)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Snow Queen’

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Red Hot’

Varieties with Red Flower

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Red Wave’ (Single)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Red Flag’ (Single)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Red Monarch’ (Double)

Varieties with Orange Flower

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Light My Fire’ (Single)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Magic Moment’ (Double)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Double Orange’ (Double)

Varieties with Yellow Flower

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Yellow’ (Single)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Peggy Hendri’ (Double)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Yellow Submarine’ (Single)

Varieties with Pink Flower

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Double Pink’ (Double)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Pink Frost’ (Single)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Tiny Tina’ (Single)

Varieties with White Flower

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘White Swan’ (Single)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Elephant Ear’ (Double)

Varieties with Multi-Colored Flower

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Voodoo Queen’ (Single)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Night Runner’ (Singleι)

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Queen of Dreams’ (Double)

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Medicinal Use


Almost all plant parts of the Chinese Hibiscus are used ethnobotanical in various forms in the traditional medicine of many peoples. In particular, they are administered against spasms, bronchitis, diarrhea, stomach aches and gonorrhea, as well as for the treatment of period abnormalities.

Therapeutic & Pharmaceutical

Modern research – and in the case of Chinese Hibiscus – justified the traditional use of the plant. Chinese Hibiscus has anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, aphrodisiac, anxiolytic and antioxidant properties and is used as an alternative medicine to combat the respective diseases.

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Red Flower of Tropical Hibiscus
Red Flower of Tropical Hibiscus

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Use in Garden & Landscape

Chinese Hibiscus is used as an ornamental plant in both the garden and the landscape and as an indoor plant. Its dominant decorative element is certainly its flowers, which depending on the variety can be single or double and almost any possible or impossible color and hue. If it is planted in tropical climate, it is flowing incessantly throughout the year.

With all this in mind, it could be said that Chinese Hibiscus is being exploited:

  • As a srhub of particular interest planted alone
  • By mass planting in gardens and landscapes
  • In coastal areas – if it is protected from aerosol salts
  • In urban plantings
  • In combination with flowering plants and shrubs such as Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Petite Orchid’), West Indian Lantana (Lantana camara) and Cannas (Canna indica ‘Phasion’)

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - References

The References of the unknown origin Chinese Hibiscus, are presented by the well-known origins artists Mariam Doumbia, Amadou Bagayoko and Manu Chao with the song Senegal Fast Food.

Play Video


The use of the material, where third-party rights are not mentioned or implied (such as photos or audiovisual files – with the exception of those belonging to "Kalliergeia"), is absolutely free. Its sharing, possibly, useful.

Skip to content