7-15 deg C/45-51 deg F

Although a Chinese species, this lovely plant is grown extensively in most tropical countries, where warmth – coupled with high humidity-produces a growth to over 1.8m (6ft). It is frequently sold as a houseplant, but is best for centrally-heated homes with good humidification. In cool homes it will survive at temperatures down to 7 deg C (45 deg F) if kept on the dry side in winter. It may well lose its leaves, but usually makes new growth in spring with the return of warmer conditions. It makes a fairly neat, bushy plant when grown in pots and its glossy dark green foliage is always attractive. From summer to autumn the plants have large and showy flowers, usually with a projecting cluster of stamens of golden-yellow colour. These last only one to two days, but are freely formed in succession.

There are numerous named cultivars with double or single flowers in yellow. salmon, pink and shades of red. ‘Cooperi’ is distinct for its dwarf habit and foliage

variegated cream flushed red. The flowers are also red. and it makes an attractive houseplant suitable for small pots. The continued success of this hibiscus in the home depends on the maintenance of adequate humidity and warmth in winter. During summer, the plant can be frequently sprayed with water, but this should be done between flowering, so as not to risk damaging or marking the delicate flower petals. The plant should also be given a shaded place out of direct sunlight. If warmth can be maintained in winter, the plants should be kept slightly moist – cultivars with variegated foliage particularly so – to prevent leaf drop or deterioration. Otherwise, drier conditions are essential until spring, when new growth is made. Potting can be done in the spring, and it may be necessary to trim the plants to a neat shape and convenient size. If growth has been vigorous it will do no harm to cut the plant back severely. All weak and straggly shoots should be removed completely. The most likely pests are aphids and mealy bugs. Usually these can be wiped off the very glossy leaves.

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