Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Red-Leaf Hibiscus, False Roselle, African Rose Mallow
Hibiscus acetosella

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hibiscus (hi-BIS-kus) (Info)
Species: acetosella (a-kee-TOE-sell-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Hibiscus eetveldeanus

» View all varieties of Hibiscus

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

36 members have or want this plant for trade.

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Fall/Early Winter

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

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There are a total of 21 photos.
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14 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Jan 31, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is commonly planted here in the north (Boston, Z6a) in containers or as summer bedding, for the beautiful burgundy foliage. I've never seen it bloom here, but I think the foliage alone is worth the trouble of planting it annually.

Grows quickly, needs regular pruning to keep it bushy.

Positive susan0 On Jan 31, 2015, susan0 from North Port, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

North Port, FL: Received a plant at a master gardener swap, and three years later enjoying one of its decedents mostly for the gorgeous deep red foliage but also the pink, dark-veined flowers. This plant made friends with my new neighbor by producing lots of flowers on her side of the shrub (South). As reported by others, it does get top-heavy and need staking if you don't keep it trimmed. Gets woody and may die in a year or two, but new plants will volunteer or you can start them from seed. Likes water and sun, but not the hottest, west sun.

Positive kimturner On Dec 8, 2012, kimturner from Gulfport, FL wrote:

Bought this plant from the Green Thumb Festival in Saint Petersburg, FL this year (I think in May or June). It was a little over a foot tall. I replanted it in a 10" pot in my garden. Now it's nearly 8 feet tall and the blooms are a deep red and beautiful. I see the flowers in the early morning, but by noon, when it receives direct sun, the flowers shrivel. Where are the seeds on the plant? And if I cut branches, is it easy to root by sticking the cuttings in a pot?

Positive Tuscawilla On Aug 28, 2012, Tuscawilla from Micanopy, FL wrote:

Vigorous, beautiful plant. Tends to be leggy and should be pruned to keep a shrub like form. Cuttings root easily and quickly. Just shove cutting in the ground. If you let it get too tall you will need to stake it. Mine gets a good bit of sun, but not full sun. I am in zone 8b-9a.

Positive Wrinkledlight On Sep 10, 2010, Wrinkledlight from Palm Bay, FL wrote:

I have about 8 of these plants growing in my backyard. I grew all of them from seed I took from some plants growing in an empty lot. They are very easy to grow. I have also used the leaves like spinach or cooked them with other greens too. They have a mild tart/lemony flavor.

Neutral dayondon_mildzS On Oct 11, 2008, dayondon_mildzS from maramag
Philippines wrote:

is already popular?..well, i just want to know if this plant do have any medicinal uses... it grows in our place..

Neutral lcosden On Feb 28, 2008, lcosden from Pawling, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

Also known as granberry hibiscus over in Japan

Positive jganjay On Feb 20, 2008, jganjay from North Fort Myers, FL wrote:

Not only a beautiful plant but a nutritious edible as well! The leaves are quite tasty in salads and in many other uses.

Positive garduncan On Oct 8, 2007, garduncan from Melbourne, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

I cooked some of the leaves like spinach and found them to have a sweet tart citrussy flavor.

Positive Zingy On Nov 3, 2006, Zingy from Titusville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I just had these plants identified for me. We spread compost and wood chips from the recycling center this spring, and we had a slew of interesting stuff pop up. Three of these plants popped up -- two of them grew to over 8 feet very quickly. I thought they were red maples, so I trimmed them like trees. Duh! on me!! I hope they overwinter here in Titusville Fl. Still no flowers -- hope I didn't put them into shock trimming them like trees.

We also have 3 gorgeous Senna alata with huge yellow flowers that popped up. That was a great load of mulch we got this spring!!

Positive JudyinPascoCoFl On Oct 26, 2006, JudyinPascoCoFl wrote:

Although I was not familiar with this plant, I loved the uniquieness of the leaf shape & color when I spotted it at a local nursery. Unfortunately, they weren't able to give me much info on it. I planted it about a month ago, and it has really taken off! I couldn't understand why it seemed to want to grow horizontally along the ground though. After reading info at this site I've purchased a wooden trellis for each plant and they look amazing! No flowers as yet, but I'm hopeful. One tip: As you trim the branches, remove the lower leaves from the cut section,
dip the cut end in a little root stimulator powder, and put it in the ground. Water well and the cutting will take root and develope a new plant, much like a Dracaena will do.
I love plants that keep on giving!

Positive vossner On Jul 26, 2005, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

started my plant from seed. Very slow starting but all of a sudden it took off like a bandit. As of this writing, has buds all over. beautiful plant.

Positive onalee On Dec 26, 2004, onalee from Brooksville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This vigorous bush has leaves that are a redish-purple color in full sun, making a striking specimen plant or border plant! In the shade, the leaves are a deep green with redish-purple viens. When not in bloom, many passersby often think they are Japanese Maple. To top it off, the flowers are a beautiful light pink with dark pink viens and are shaped like little cups and go all the way up each stem of the plant, blooming each fall with a profusion of color! These hibiscus will easily reach a height of 10 in one season and bloom the first year they are planted. You may keep them trimmed back into a hedge or let them grow tall. For the most blooms, cut the top of the plant back (take about 2-3 inches off) when the plants are 2' high, this will make the plant send out side branches; trim each side branch back several times during the growing season to make each of them send out more branches. The more branches, the more blooms. These plants are easily broken by wind, keeping them more compact will reduce this problem, too. In zone 9, these start blooming in October and bloom in profusion until the first freeze - which we usually get in mid-late December. I have some plants in the greenhouse which have continued blooming.

Cardinals LOVE the seeds of this plant and will flock to them in the fall and winter as the seeds ripen. They eat them usually just before, or just as, the seeds are 'ripe' or dry, so if you plan on harvesting seeds, plant enough for you AND the cardinals! The seed pods on these don't open like most plants when they are dry, so you have to remove from the bush and break open. You'll find up to 6 'compartments' within the pod that contain the dark brown seeds. The seed pod is ready to harvest when it turns brown.

Positive ReggieattheGulf On Aug 1, 2004, ReggieattheGulf from Englewood, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

This beautiful burgandy colored leaf Hibiscus grows like a weed in Charlotte County, Florida. And it grows BIG! Best to chop it down in February and let it grow anew. Flowers from dawn to midday and dies. Invasive by seed. Not yet tried to eat the leaves in my salad.

Positive TheWildchild On Nov 15, 2003, TheWildchild from Candler, NC (Zone 6b) wrote:

I found this plant growing wild in a vacant field by my home. The field is going to be bulldozed for building so I dug up 2 of them to plant in my garden.I found the plant to be interesting but I had no clue what it was. To my surprise it gave me a wonderful show of beautiful blooms yesterday morning. I found that they close in the evenings and re-open in the morning. I have also seen today that Bees and Butterflies are attracted to it.
Thanks to the wonderful folks here...I got my answer to what these plants were! :-)

Neutral suncatcheracres On Oct 2, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

A friend gave me a cutting of this plant last Spring and told me it wasn't hardy here in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, so I put it in a large pot intending to protect it over the next Winter. However, it is now about eight feet tall and bent over from the weight of the leaves and all the Summer rain. So I took some cuttings of my own and stuck them straight into our sandy soil, but still in a pot, and they took.

The first plant is way too big to try to protect this Winter, so I think I will plant it into the ground in a semi-shady place under some trees where it will get some protection from frost. My own cuttings are still small, growing in a pot, so will get protected over Winter. Hopefully I will still have both plants next Spring.

The leaves are very strong to the taste, and leave a strong aftertaste. Perhaps very young leaves mixed with other greens would be OK.

I was told my plant is a cultivar named 'Red Shield.' The leaves attach to the petiole at an odd angle, giving the leaves a shield like appearance.

Positive TerriFlorida On Oct 1, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

This is a nice maroon plant to grow where it stays warm enough. Its only real problem is that it tends to become top-heavy and flop over, so grow along the ground and through other things. Sometimes this is very pleasing, sometimes it isn't. It is easy to grow where it can lean on a fence. You can eat the new leaves, they have a nice tangy taste. I've grown these off and on over the last 10 years or so. They tend to be somewhat short-lived for me, but not terribly so. I have not tried making more from cuttings, but I will have to as some gardening friends have expressed interest.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Tempe, Arizona
Bella Vista, California
Clayton, California
Fresno, California
Los Angeles, California
Redlands, California
Richmond, California
San Diego, California
Winchester, California
Apopka, Florida
Crescent City, Florida
Dunedin, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Micanopy, Florida
Mulberry, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida (2 reports)
North Port, Florida
Oakland, Florida
Ocoee, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Plant City, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Riverview, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida (2 reports)
Tampa, Florida
Titusville, Florida
Venus, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Barbourville, Kentucky
Zachary, Louisiana
Bellevue, Michigan
Gautier, Mississippi
Saint Joseph, Missouri
Mesilla Park, New Mexico
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Cayce, South Carolina
Austin, Texas
Brazoria, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
El Paso, Texas
Emory, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Marcos, Texas

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