In terms of propagation, the hibiscus is just as uncomplicated as in its care. The desired goal defines the applied method. If you aim to breed new varieties, the project succeeds excellently with the help of the seeds. If you are already cultivating a perfect rose mallow that is simply being bred, propagation by cuttings is an option. If you want to settle your very first hibiscus in the garden or room, both variants are available. In the following you will learn everything about the correct cultivation from seeds and cuttings.
Table of Contents
- Plant family of Malvaceae
- Genus Hibiscus (Hibiscus)
- Annual or perennial trees, shrubs or subshrubs
- Growth height in culture 100 to 200 centimeters
- Evergreen or deciduous
- Hardy garden hibiscus with flowering period from June/July to September
- Tropical rose hibiscus flowers from March to October/November
- Striking flowers up to 25 centimeters in diameter
- Capsules with five compartments in autumn
- Trivialname: Eibisch
Cultivation from seeds
If you are striving to grow an explicit hibiscus variety, the specialist trade offers high-quality seeds. In this case, you can assume with a high degree of probability that exactly the marshmallow attributes that characterize your favorite variety will unfold. If the color of the flowers or how the habit develops is of lesser importance, use the seeds from the capsule fruits of a hibiscus plant in your own garden or from the hand of a hobby gardener friend.
The reason for this different approach is that all marshmallow shrubs and trees are hybrids. The seeds thus collect the genetic material from the parent plants, which in turn have already come from a cross. As a result, nobody can predict which properties will ultimately prevail. As a rule, it is even the case that different hibiscus hybrids arise from the seeds of a single capsule fruit. If you buy the seed in a specialist shop, the breeder has filtered out the seeds that correspond to the desired variety image through lengthy trials.
Whatever the source of the seed, it requires pre-treatment because the hard-shelled seeds are difficult to germinate. With a very steady hand it is possible to cut the casing. A small piece of 0.5 mm is cut off with a cutter knife, whereupon the inside of the seed becomes visible. If it shows up in a light yellow color, the seed is healthy and suitable for sowing. If the core is brown or black in color, no further effort is worthwhile. Since this procedure requires a steady hand at the level of a surgeon, resourceful hobby gardeners have developed a viable alternative.
- Grasp the seed between two fingers and roughen it up with sandpaper or a file
- Then soak in lukewarm water for 24-48 hours
- The desired temperature is best maintained in a thermos flask
- Optionally soak in 0.2% potassium nitrate at room temperature for 24 hours
Following the preparation, the further work flows seamlessly into the actual sowing. Under no circumstances should the seeds dry out during this phase.
Since hibiscus seedlings will have very brittle, tender roots, it is advisable to use peat or coconut pots for sowing. These are small organic pots that are already filled with suitable seed soil. A fine mesh holds the whole thing together. After adding a little water, the pots swell and are immediately ready for use. If you prefer your own mixture as a growing substrate, the environmentally friendly containers are also available unfilled.
- Stick the seeds individually into the seed soil so that they are thinly covered with soil
- Moisten with water from the spray bottle and cover with cling film
- Ideally place in a heated indoor greenhouse
- Lay out the floor in it with perlite, expanded clay or seramis
- Keep the material constantly moist so that the seedlings can be watered from below
In order to achieve the required germination temperature of 26 to 30 degrees Celsius, the windowsill is probably not enough in the local latitudes. In addition, a humidity of 80 to 90 percent is a basic requirement so that the seeds are even able to germinate. Investing in a mini greenhouse with temperature control is recommended from this point of view. Since ventilation flaps are integrated here, mold formation is effectively prevented.
germination and repotting
Germination begins within 4 to 10 days under ideal, humid and warm conditions. The cotyledons push up the remainder of the seed coat. This can be picked off with tweezers. The seedlings are now growing so rapidly that they are placed in 8 cm pots with special soil for hibiscus together with the peat or coconut pot. The high temperatures in connection with 90 percent humidity are no longer necessary to this extent. Nevertheless, the climatic conditions should continue to be warm and not too dry. Any cover is removed to allow the plantlets to harden and develop strong resistance.
In the coming months keep the substrate constantly slightly moist. As soon as a seed pot has roots, repot the young plant into a larger pot. From the second month, the nutrient supply with liquid fertilizer begins. It is built up gradually, in proportion to growth. First apply the fertilizer in a diluted dosage to prevent the soil from being salinated. Depending on the variety, it can take up to 24 months for a marshmallow to mature after sowing that it can be planted outdoors.
propagation by cuttings
In contrast to sowing, the result of propagation by cuttings is certain. Each offshoot contains the exact characteristics of the mother plant. For this reason, the variant is also referred to as cloning. Spring is the best time of year to tackle cuttings propagation. As part of the annual pruning, there is usually plenty of material that is suitable for offshoots. The optimal cutting is semi-lignified, so it comes from a one- or two-year-old shoot. The cutting is separated from the mother plant with an oblique cut, just below one eye. A length of 15 cm is considered ideal. Then defoliate the shoot and cut out the buds without damaging the eyes. The cutting will sprout again from the vegetation nodes. Finally, the shoot tip is cut off. Proceed as follows with the prepared cuttings:
- Fill small plastic pots with a nutrient-poor substrate, such as peat sand, perlite or coconut fiber
- Insert two-thirds of a cutting into each and moisten the soil
- Set up in a heatable mini-greenhouse in the partially shaded window seat
- A constant temperature of around 25 degrees Celsius is required, with high humidity
- Alternatively, put on a plastic cap supported with small wooden sticks
Rooting a hibiscus cutting is further animated by dipping the lower interface in rooting powder before inserting. Algae extracts such as Neudofix from Neudorff have proven their worth in this respect. The successful course of cutting propagation depends crucially on the shoots not being exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations and not being too dry. In a room greenhouse, these premises can be fulfilled in the best possible way. If it doesn’t have a heater, simply place a heating mat underneath. So that the young plants do not immediately hit the ceiling, increase the height with the help of glass plates.
Care after rooting
Hibiscus cuttings take anywhere from three weeks to three months to root. During this time, care must be taken to ensure that the substrate is constantly moist. In the warm, humid microclimate, mold occasionally forms, even with regular ventilation. It should be removed at the first sign to prevent the mold from spreading. If you take the cuttings propagation during the vegetation period, it can happen that a shoot drives out leaves without roots forming. So be sure to check before you move on to the next stage of the propagation process. Ideally, some roots will already be growing out of the opening in the ground, thus signaling successful rooting progress.
- Fill pots of the next size category with hibiscus substrate
- A drainage over the floor opening prevents the formation of waterlogging
- Carefully pot each cutting, tap off the old substrate and plant
- Leave a small pouring edge of 1-2 cm and water with low-lime rainwater
Evaporation protection is recommended for further growth. PET bottles that have been cut open and placed over the offshoot are very suitable. As soon as the leaves of the hibiscus hit the side walls, the bottle is removed. Alternatively, plastic bags will also do the job, provided they are supported with small wooden sticks.
Anyone planning to propagate a garden hibiscus has particularly good cards. The robust, hardy flowering shrub offers a remarkably unproblematic variety in the offspring. We are talking about offshoots that remain connected to a mother plant during rooting. This circumstance dramatically increases the chances of success, since the water and nutrient supply is ensured.
When growth is in full swing in early summer, the ideal time has come. An exemplary sinker is semi-woody and pliable. Pull the chosen shoot to the ground and mark the spot. Where the sinker touches the soil, score the bark very lightly with a razor blade. Rooting will take place more quickly from the wound tissue. Make a 10 cm deep furrow in the ground. The sinker comes in there and is dug in so far that the shoot tip still looks out. Tie this to a small wooden stick, because later the budding will show whether the underground root formation is successful. If the sinker snaps out of the ground, secure it with a tent peg or staple.
If you take care of the mother plant, the offshoot will also receive water and a dose of liquid fertilizer. If you notice a noticeable resistance by gently pulling while new leaves are thriving at the shoot tip, rooting is complete. Now the young hibiscus is separated from the mother plant with a sharp cut. Alternatively, plant it directly in the bed. It is advisable to keep the offspring in pots throughout the winter so that they can be planted out next spring.
Incidentally, the lowering method can also be implemented on the room marshmallow. In this case, simply place another pot of potting soil next to the pot with the mother plant. Pull the sinker there and follow the same pattern as with a garden hibiscus.
Hibiscus is an excellent candidate for propagation in the home garden. Hobby gardeners can choose from a variety of methods, all of which are easy to manage. Propagation from seed requires a little more effort than propagation from cuttings. At the same time, sowing opens up the possibility of carrying out your own breeding experiments and creating an individual hibiscus variety. A garden marshmallow offers the most uncomplicated variant of breeding by simply pulling a sinker to the ground. While the mother plant takes care of the water and nutrient supply, the offspring takes root. Whatever course of action is decided upon,