Photo by Melody

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

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

» View all varieties of Hibiscus

19 members have or want this plant for trade.

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

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:
Sun to Partial Shade

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly


Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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14 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive williamca On Nov 8, 2014, williamca from Plant City, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Grown from cuttings, this plant is beautiful and easy to propagate. Grew some from seed but the leaves were all green. Surprising for me was it has some thorns. I have not seen it for sale in nurseries in zone 9b. It will be a permanent part of the garden.

Positive Heeve On Nov 2, 2013, Heeve from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I planted 2 cuttings in early spring this year and now I have two 8 to 9 foot tall Hibiscus! They grow extremely fast here where my plants are grown underneath full sized tupulo trees and fan palms and so receive alot of shade until mid afternoon through evening where they receive full sunlight. They were planted in a sandy soil mix along a fence line that has short ground covering grasses where drainage is good but still retains a reasonable amount of moisture. Almost immediately after the roots took off in late spring, the plants put on a couple of flowers and then quickly went away as the weather heated up. Now in late fall there are hundreds of flower buds on these plants now and am looking forward to the blooms!

Leaves are very tasty and go well in most garden salads adding a good "zing" of flavor, almost like a slightly peppery cranberry. The flowers to me have a slightly sweet taste but do more to add color to a tea or other drink then anything else. The leaves are very high in Vitamin C and as such very high in anti-oxidants and are an excellent source of iron as well. Some have even reported that this plant has anti-inflammatory properties when consumed as an extract in an herbal tea.

10b residents should absolutely give this one a shot if you're looking to add some color to your landscape or garden!

Negative gardensr4love On Mar 28, 2013, gardensr4love wrote:

I live in zone 4, purchased the Red Shield Hibiscus for 2012 growing season knowing it was a zone 8. Proceeded to bring it in for the winter. It is now March, 2013 and the plant is dead as a doornail. Have many other Hibiscus varieties and never had one die on me. It was a beautiful plant, maroon foliage, large, deep red blooms-only for the first season.

Positive CaraLR On Apr 22, 2012, CaraLR from Clearwater, FL wrote:

I've found this plant to be very easy to grow here in Clearwater, Fl. It usually grows well all year 'round but 1 year the cold was severe for 2 nights and almost killed my plants. They grow back though. I just cut off the dead branches. The plants were well established by then so they took the cold in stride. Something I really want to find out is the nutritional components, of the leaves in particular. I put them in salads all the time withe romaine lettuce and other veggies. They have a very slight lemony, peppery flavor that I enjoy. Has anyone seen a breakdown or any kind of nutritional analysis of this plant? Has anyone used the leaves in tea?

Positive morningloree On Mar 24, 2012, morningloree from Heathrow, FL wrote:

I planted this Hibiscus with Little John Azaleas, on the southeast part of my house which gets sunshine most of the morning and part of the afternoon. It is a sprawling plant which complements the more compact growth of azaleas, and has beautiful burgundy flowers that are blooming for me in late March. I am off to the nursery to buy 2 more. I am hoping to put them around some scrub palms, really nice contrast plant to fill in spaces in the garden.

Positive garduncan2 On Jul 4, 2011, garduncan2 from Melbourne, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

I have grown this species a number of times. The ones I have grown seem to only bloom as the day length shortens in the fall. No matter how early in the year I have planted them, they bloomed from fall-winter. There must be a day-neutral variety available since others have had their specimens blooming in the spring and summer. I have eaten the cooked greens and they have a citrus-cranberry/sorrel taste.

Positive smurfwv On Jun 8, 2010, smurfwv from Cabin Creek, WV (Zone 6a) wrote:

I started my seeds in February, and the plants bloomed in May. I really like the color of the blooms, but don't care too much about the thorns, what kind of hibiscus has thorns anyway? Were they bred with a raspberry to get the color? Anyway you have to try this plant, its absolutely gorgeous. The flowers last one day but they are very nice. On another note, you'll want to stake this one up as it tends to get top heavy.

Positive mjsponies On Dec 8, 2009, mjsponies from DeLand/Deleon Springs, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I for this as a cutting in the fall of 08. Rooted easily, and I kept in pot till spring. It's gotten HUGH ! Easily 8 feet across, and 5 ft high.
I did keep it trimmed to encourage spread vs. height. I love the dark cranberry colored blooms. It's been very easy, requiring water only once in a while if we don't get rain for a few weeks.

Neutral asblcr On Oct 8, 2009, asblcr from Westmoreland, KS wrote:

I ordered the seeds and I don't remember from where - but I had 5 beautiful plants, as far as the shrub was concerned - we just had our first frost and I didn't get one bloom all summer from these plants. Is this usual for the red shield not to bloom the first year? I was so looking forward to seeing the blooms. It has been a crazy weather year here in NE Kansas.

But I also had another beautiful hibiscus plant (pink and white with a burgandy center and lighter green foliage) and I can't remember its name - it was a much shorter plant and just full of blooms and they are still blooms on the plant that the frost didn't kill.

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

Stunningly beautiful foliage, however it has only been unreliable about returning in my 8b garden. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. So now I keep mine in 15 gallon nursery containers which can be stored over the winter in a cold frame, and tucked into place in slightly larger nursery containers which are permanantly buried in the bed once its warm. Its worth it!
From a pint container the first year my original plant grew to 7' tall x 3' Wide and bloomed starting in late august. I took cuttings, which I overwintered in the Greenhouse, thank goodness. I lost the main plant that winter '06. I planted 6 of the cuttings in the ground in 07 and kept 6 in pots. Of the ones in the ground only two came back in 08.
Truly spectacular deeep burgundy foliage which does not fade in the heat. Flowers are lovely, but not really the reason to grow. Gets big fast, great in containers, makes a spectacular centerpeice. Easy to root in vermiculite.

Positive Dodsky On Jul 16, 2008, Dodsky from Smiths Grove, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant is a fast grower and can split or sprawl if not supported. The branches on my plant last year were similar to blackberry canes in habit and reached over 8' long and unsupported were 5-6' tall. The foliage ranges from a bright burgundy red to a deep mahogany red depending on exposure. Japanese beetles and occasional leaf rolling caterpillars do feed on this plant but as mentioned before damage is usually not too apparent and the plant usually grows so quickly it's not a problem. Easily propagated from seeds or cuttings. Grown as an annual in my area, zone 6b. Can be overwintered as small cuttings indoors.

Positive brieannon On Jul 12, 2008, brieannon from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

As a Florida native I don't typically care for hibiscus (everyone has one around here...), but Red Shield has really gained my affection. Can't wait until I can put my young plant in the ground and watch it thrive.

Positive Gina_Rose On Nov 12, 2006, Gina_Rose from Hollywood, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

It has beautiful pink blooms to accent it's gorgeous red stems and leaves. Mine is currently being attacked by Japanese Beetles(?), but because of the dark foliage, the brown-edged leaves aren't too noticeable! I love it. :)

Positive soulgardenlove On May 23, 2006, soulgardenlove from Marietta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I do not grow this plant yet, but it is of note that it is one of three hibiscus out of twelve studied at the USDA ARS Southern Horticultural Laboratory that showed promise for breeding Mallows that are resistant to the Hibiscus Saw Fly which are currently on a rampage with some mallows I currently own.

Positive hanna1 On Jul 9, 2004, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love the foliage. Just planted it, should bloom midsummer to early fall. Will have to take pics.

Positive gardenfool106 On Mar 13, 2004, gardenfool106 from Panama City, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Taken by its interesting foliage, I bought this plant at Calloway Gardens in June 2003. Due to health problems, I simply set it in at the end of my vegetable garden bed until I could prepare a permanent place for it. It took off like a weed. I took 8-12" tip cuttings and simply placed them in the sandy soil under a laurel oak. They rooted in no time. I potted up the cuttings and kept them in the greenhouse over the winter. The mother plant (still in the vegetable garden) died back during the winter and has not yet returned, but is supposed to be hardy here in 8b.

This plant takes a lot of room if not pruned. High winds, which I have a lot of, give it a sprawling look instead of erect. The deep bronze leaves and deep crimson flowers are an eyecatcher. I did not fertilize and only occasionally watered initially. It's a low maintenance plant except for occasional pruning.


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

Dothan, Alabama
Castro Valley, California
Fairfield, California
Kennedy, California
Los Angeles, California (2 reports)
Redlands, California
Winchester, California
Archer, Florida
Bonita Springs, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Deland, Florida
Dunedin, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Fort Pierce, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lake Placid, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Miami, Florida
Nokomis, Florida
Ocoee, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Orlando, Florida (2 reports)
Palm Harbor, Florida
Panama City, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Plant City, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Sarasota, Florida (2 reports)
Satellite Beach, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Titusville, Florida
Valrico, Florida
Waycross, Georgia
Joliet, Illinois
Westmoreland, Kansas
Smiths Grove, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Lucedale, Mississippi
Saint Joseph, Missouri
Mesilla Park, New Mexico
Tuttle, Oklahoma
Conway, South Carolina
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
North Augusta, South Carolina
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Beaumont, Texas
Castroville, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Groves, Texas
Houston, Texas
La Porte, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
Richmond, Texas
Temple, Texas
Kalama, Washington
Cabin Creek, West Virginia

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