Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Roselle, Jamaican Tea, Maple-Leaf Hibiscus, Florida Cranberry, October Hibiscus, Red Sorrell
Hibiscus sabdariffa

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hibiscus (hi-BIS-kus) (Info)
Species: sabdariffa (sab-duh-RIF-fuh) (Info)

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3 vendors have this plant for sale.

45 members have or want this plant for trade.

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4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

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:
Pale Pink
Pale Yellow
Bright Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter


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

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 19 photos.
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9 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive williamca On Oct 5, 2014, williamca from Plant City, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Grown from cuttings from the Community Garden the flowers are the same color as the red foliage. Seeds from this clone produced green plants but the flowers which are beginning to appear have not matured so I'll watch them while they mature. It is a lovely addition to a tropical garden. Wikipedia has a good description and interesting details.

Positive JerseyGirl711 On Oct 12, 2012, JerseyGirl711 from Millington, NJ wrote:

We are going to get our first heavy frost tonight in Morris County, NJ so I dug up my 4 roselle plants and potted them to spend the winter in the garage. They are covered with flower buds - has anyone else tried transplanting them at this stage? They are between 2 and 3 feet tall and a little spindly as they were growing in the shade of 4 foot tall lemon grass ( which I have also just potted up for the winter). Hope they both make it - otherwise it's gonna be Thai soup for dinner next week!

Positive seminole_CFL On Dec 29, 2010, seminole_CFL from Winter Springs, FL wrote:

We grew three sorrel plants from seedlings, planted in June 26. By late November the plants were huge, 4 or 5 feet in diameter, lovely spheres of sorrelness. We harvested a LOT calyxes for sorrel drink and dried some for mailing to family up in NYC.

Obtained our seedlings from local organic nursery.

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

I am growing about 30 of these plants for the first time. I started them all from seed in the ground. I purchased my seed from I have used the leaves cooked with other greens. I find it better that way instead of by themselves. They have a very tart/lemony flavor. Very good. Starting at the end of August they started to bloom and produce the calyces.

Neutral merginglight On Jul 1, 2010, merginglight from Gravette, AR wrote:

I purchased Red Thai Roselle seeds (collected from Thailand) from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds because I had read that the leaves and the calyxes of this specific plant can be made into a drink and a sweet sauce.
I started my Roselle seeds indoors on March 5th and thenmoved them outdoors once they took, but to my surprise we had two snow storms, which set my
seedlings back quite a bit. I started roughly 6 seeds and only three took and grew into seedlings. Of the three, only one has matured. One seedling was put near garlic and was slightly shaded and it never developed past it's two first leaves. The other two I put in two year old loose compost. One plant never developed past it's first two leaves, but the other one finally developed other leaves and is now two foot high and just as full. It's a beautiful plant, which I would, without hesitation, border a driveway or a house with or put in any sunny location where I can see the plant all the time. It's obvious I need to learn more about growing this plant because I could only get one plant out of 6 seeds to grow. Now that I have the one plant, I hope to get the mature Calyxes so to save seed, so to try again next year.

Neutral kdaustin On Sep 25, 2008, kdaustin from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

In my area its not perennial, so you have to store it over the winter. Pretty not spectacular though. Can be rangy.I bought it 8 years ago at a herb show, my little 4" pot grew to be 3' x 2' in the garden. I couldn't find info about hardiness at the time, and it froze. However if you were growing it purely for culinary purposed it would be worthwhile, the flavor is delish and rather unusual.

Positive Darmananda On Jul 5, 2008, Darmananda from New Iberia, LA wrote:

This plant was grown as a vegetable plant in Burma, where I grew up. They are grown seasonally. They are mainly used for soup. The Burmese add fish to it and make a delicious sour soup. Add a few chilies and you get a very tasty soup that is very good for clearing up your sinus system! This soup is especially good because it is winter (that's when this plant likes to grow when no other vegetable want to bother). Both leaves and seedbags (the budlike things (fruits) in which the seeds are stored) can be eaten. Use only the skin of the fruit. You can also put the flower in the soup to make it creamy! Now in the US, I didn't know what this plant was called or does it exist in the US? Then I remembered the flowers kinda looked like hibiscus so I searched for keyword "edible hibiscus" on Google and boom, I was provided with a link to Dave's Garden on the search returns. The reddish maple-leaf-like foliage is both beautiful and delicious, (beautilicious?!). Now that I know the name, I can do further research to see if I can find some seeds here in Louisiana. One thing though, the ones we had in Burma are sour, not sweet. It was the whole point, sour. I can imagine people who use it for salad and tea purposes wanting it sweet though. But I must find this sour variety here in the US! I must make that soup I grew up eating. Yummy!

Neutral melgir On Nov 5, 2007, melgir from Santa Monica, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

Beautiful and It grows fine in zone 10b, coastal Southern California, but it got off to a slow start. It would not germinate outside during our mostly cool summers. Hot weather comes in Sept and doesn't last long enough to allow much time for the plant to produce prolifically. Now, In early Nov., the plant is starting to get downy mildew from the bottom(from overnight & morning fog perhaps?). No one knows which parts of the plant to use or how to dry or prepare it. Attempts to dry resulted in mold. Any suggestions?

Positive onalee On Oct 22, 2006, onalee from Brooksville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Roselle is a WONDERFUL plant in the home landscape and one that I am truly impressed with for it's ease of care and beauty. Fifty years ago it was widely grown in Florida as a summertime hedge and for its edible calyces and I don't know why it still isn't! I have found these to be PEST FREE, super easy to grow, will take FLORIDA full sun with no problem and require NO TRIMMING to form a beautifully shaped shrub.

The dark green leaves contrast nicely with the red stems and petioles, making it a beautiful specimen even before it starts to bloom. In the fall the plants EXPLODE with flowers that start the day yellow with a light blush of pink and end the day as a dark, dusty rose color. Although each flower is only about 3" across and lasts only a day, they bushes are covered in new flowers each day. Just when other plants are starting to fade, these really liven the landscape during the fall!

The edible calyces (fruits) are a bonus!

At the bottom of each flower, enclosing the bases of the five petals, is a fleshy bright red cup-like structure called a calyx, The calyx is about 1 inch in diameter. The calyces of roselle are used to make juices, sauces, jellies, wines and pies.

Place roselle where it will have plenty of room. This is a large annual, so thin plants to about 3 feet apart. Roselle is often planted in rows where it forms a dense hedge by mid summer If planted from seed in spring,

Positive gregr18 On Jul 31, 2006, gregr18 from Bridgewater, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

If you ever go to a Senegalese restaurant, ask for a drink called Bissap. It is the Senegalese national drink and is made from the dried flowers of this Hibiscus.

I thought it was pretty good, but I forget exactly what it tasted like.

Positive anomina On Jan 9, 2004, anomina from Bradenton, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

this plant is known all over the caribbean and latin america for the tea made from its flowers which is a popular soft drink. the dried flowers are sold in bulk in the markets and brewed and sweetened to taste. i do not know the chemical properties of the drink but it is very tasty and has the tartness of cranberry. i have grown it here in west central florida and it is quite available if you keep a lookout on the roads or ask other gardeners.

Positive nusi On Jul 15, 2003, nusi from Sebring, FL wrote:

I was born and raised in Sebring Fl. As a child we made what we call the Florida cranberry jam. It is made from the sepals of the seed pod. I am very much interested in obtaining a plant or some seeds. It will not take the cold weather. I do know it will grow here in Sebring as we are about mid state and do not have the extreme cold weather.
I am very fond of the plant. and would like to grow it again. I am retired.

Neutral Peanut123 On Nov 25, 2002, Peanut123 wrote:

I have two plants that I started from seed in the middle of the year they are about four feet tall now (11/02). The flowers are a light burgundy with deep burgundy center, about two inches in diameter. I obtained the seed from a lady in Ocala,Fl. and I live in N.W. Fl. I don't know if they will live outside through the winter or not, I have them in pots in the green house. More I follow their growth and fruiting,if they do fruit.


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

Chandler, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Corona, California
Huntington Beach, California
Los Angeles, California (2 reports)
San Pedro, California
Bartow, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Mc Intosh, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Plant City, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Venice, Florida
Webster, Florida
Welaka, Florida
Winter Park, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida (2 reports)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Pukalani, Hawaii
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Xenia, Ohio
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Nashville, Tennessee
Donna, Texas
San Augustine, Texas
Schulenburg, Texas
Sinton, Texas
Waller, Texas

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