And now continuing with our impromptu stroll through the marvelous land of the Mallows, I'd like to introduce you all to Erin Rachel, the newest member of our hibiscus collection here at Casa IVG.
What a nice surprise waiting for me after work today ... the new hibiscus I bought recently has finally started to bloom again! I found this luscious tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Erin Rachel') back in May at a local garden center where it immediately caught my eye with its striking neon rings of colour. Though it wasn't cheap ($34!), I just had to have it. It only had one bloom on it at the time, but that was enough to convince me to plunk my money down and take her home with us. (And those regulars around here know that I'm a bit of a hibiscus freak at heart, so this should come as no surprise to them.)
Though it's not very tall yet, it's a fairly mature (though closely pruned) specimen that should grow nicely into a compact bush by the end of the summer. I've still not gotten around to repotting her, and I suspect that has had something to do with her hiatus from blooming the last month or so. Now a lot of buds are coming on, and she should produce flowers profusely as we move on into the hotter, sunnier months of summer. We gave her a feeding with a fish emulsion solution a couple of weeks ago (along with my other 'Brilliantissima' red hibiscus) and that seems to have had the desired effect. (A good feeding with fish emulsion solution about once a month seems to keep them quite happy.) Now I just need to move her to a larger, more attractive pot where she can really take off for the rest of the summer and beyond.
According to the information I've found on this new hybrid variety, it's relatively slow growing for a tropical hibiscus and is only supposed to reach 5-6' tall at maturity. That's actually somewhat short for these types of hibiscus that you see growing in profusion in Florida and other parts of the south. It is a member of the large Mallow family (like our perennial hibiscus, the Prairie Mallow, et. al.) but is far from hardy to our zone, so we'll be bringing this beauty inside when the weather gets colder. Tropical hibiscus such as these do quite well as houseplants over the winter, as long as you can provide them with a very sunny window (preferably south or east), adequate water and a decent level of relative humidity in the house. I kept our Brilliantissima red at the top of the stairs in front of a south window last winter and it bloomed pretty frequently even during the coldest months. And of course as soon as it's warm enough to take them back outside in the spring, they spend the summer basking in the sun and blooming their hearts out. We look forward to even more eye popping colour from Erin Rachel this summer ... so you'll probably be seeing more of her in the months to come.