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

Hibiscus acetosella

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


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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

Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Dothan, Alabama

Castro Valley, California

Fairfield, California

Fountain Valley, 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

Jupiter, 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

Zephyrhills, 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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.


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 ad... read more


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.... read more


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.


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.


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. :)


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.


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.


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 ferti... read more