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Growing Hibiscus

Les Beers and Jim Howie

Second Edition

I'm Wally Morgan, grower of hibiscus for more than 25 years and a Nurseryman for 20 of those.  I've been retired for 10 or more and I take great delight in making available these great Hibiscus books from those greats of the Hibiscus Industry, Jim Howie and Les Beers.

Some years ago, I displayed Jim Howie's 1980 book "Hibiscus - Queen of the Flower" together

with his Nomenclature volume. Those were the archives of hibiscus for me even though I also have the 1975 nomenclature handbook of the Australian Hibiscus Society.

I am pleased now to display the Howie and Beers publication "Growing Hibiscus" of 1985 with a revised edition in 1990 which I've used.  You'll find that, although the format is a bit different, it is all there.

Of course, the spray advice is awry.  We use Lorsban (chlorpyrifos) for our chewers, Confidor (imidacloprid) for the sucking insects and Avid (abamectin) and now Acramate (bifenazate) for the dreaded 2-spotted mite.  And that list goes on!  However, the general growing advice is spot-on.

The pictures are loaded in pages of 12 plates.  You'll have to be patient while they load.  Whenever you see a description in the Catalogue, it has a plate number from 1 to 192 which will correspond to one of the 16 pages listed in the Index below.

This should help all those people who can no longer find the book, even on EBay!  My thanks to Sue Landsdown of the Western Australian Hibiscus Society for prompting this effort.  It will enable the book to gain a mileage never expected in 1985, or even in 1990 when computers were just making a tenuous appearance.

My thanks to Jim and Shirley Howie and Les and Nancy Beers for being able to make this available in this format.

Enjoy a step back in time .... or is it?

Les and Nancy Beers

Jim and Shirley Howie

Acknowledgments and Foreword


The authors wish to thank the following:

The American Hibiscus Society, Florida, U.S.A. for their permission to use articles and portions of articles from their publications, and for help and cooperation from information.
The Australian Hibiscus Society for their permission to use information from their publications, and the members of the Society all too numerous to mention who have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this publication.
Tom Mead of the N.S.W. Department of Agriculture for help and assistance over the years.
The late and great Ross Gast for information relative to the history of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.
Mr David Hockings, Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane, Queensland for article contribution and technical advice.
Steven Bray for his fine photographic efforts.
Shirley Howie for her line drawings and patience. Nancy Beers for her support and patience.
Raymond J. Rowell who taught Les that to observe is to learn.
The various people who have helped in any way.

          Les Beers and Jim Howie

Profiles of the Authors (in 1985)
Les Beers is a nurseryman from New South Wales and Jim Howie is a nurseryman from Queensland. Together they have over fifty years experience in growing hibiscus and have combined to produce this publication to give readers a better understanding of these beautiful plants. They have tried to present in easily understood language a comprehensive guide to growing hibiscus successfully, for the growing of these plants need not be a difficult, laborious, time consuming or expensive hobby. Their beauty may be enjoyed by those with limited space and time as well as by those cultivating many varieties. The easy to follow guidelines in this book enable one to create new hibiscus from seeds, and to propagate plants from cuttings or grafts, and should be the means of sustaining a lasting and satisfying interest in hibiscus.

While the following information on hibiscus has been collected over many years, we learn as we grow these beautiful plants and new techniques are being introduced all the time. By joining either the American or Australian Hibiscus Society one can keep abreast of any new developments. The successful growing and flowering of hibiscus spurs the grower on to better and more difficult varieties, but whether you are a novice or experienced grower, we trust this publication will help in Growing Hibiscus.


To completely cover the full range of hibiscus species and varieties would be a monumental task, however we do hope we have improved your knowledge of the most popular species under cultivation. Like any plant grown by nurserymen, hibiscus provide a challenge, and we are constantly learning new and better techniques in order to get the best from these wonderful plants. The knowledge shared by members of the hibiscus societies has resulted in a host of new, spectacular varieties each requiring different treatment. Nurserymen are kept busy trying them out, always looking for the new, better variety that is more resistant to pests and diseases, and easier to grow. The new varieties, many of them raised by amateur gardeners, have given the nurserymen a huge range to offer to the public. With all these varieties being produced, what of the old ones?

An old gardener once said `It is not what you grow, but how you grow it!' and how true this is when you see some of the old hibiscus well cared for and rewarding their owners with masses of lovely blooms. A little tender loving care is all that's needed to transform old, neglected plants into blooming marvels, and with proper care there is no other plant as rewarding as hibiscus, whatever the variety! With their wonderful colour range and diverse growth habits hibiscus have truly earned their rightful place in any garden, and although they like to be grown on their own, they will coexist with other plants, giving life to the garden during summer and autumn.

Hopefully the information contained in this book will lead to a better understanding of hibiscus, and a renewed interest in these plants. One must realise however that whilst the information gathered by the authors has led to bigger and better hibiscus for them, conditions do vary from place to place, and some slight variations in culture may be necessary to obtain the best results in your area.

Note to Second Edition: One hundred new varieties of Hibiscus rosa sinensas have been added to the list at the back of the book, and a new up to date section on pesticides and fungicides has also been added.

Cover: H. rosa sinensis `Cele Niffenegger', p.67
C Les Beers & Jim Howie 1985 and 1990
Reprinted 1986, 1987
Second edition published 1990
First published in 1985 by Kangaroo Press Pty Ltd
3 Whitehall Road (P. 0. Box 75) Kenthurst 2156
Typeset by G. T Setters Pty Limited
Printed in Hong Kong by Colorcraft Ltd

ISBN 0 86417 278 8


Web comments, Acknowledgments, Author Profiles

1.   Hibiscus - The Genus

2.  Hibiscus rosa-sinensis culture
        Choosing Varieties
           Preparing the Garden
           Soil Preparation
           Successful Transplanting
           Protecting Hibiscus from Frost, Cold and Wind

3.  Plant Nutrition
           Soil pH
           Plant Nutrients
           Leaf Sign Language
           Trace Elements
           Choosing a Fertiliser
           Applying Fertiliser
           Liquid Fertiliser
           Correcting Minor Elements Deficiencies
           Potassium for Quality Blooms
           Fertilising Container Grown Plants
           Compost and Manure

4.  Using Hibiscus
           The Aesthetic Value of Hibiscus
           Hibiscus in Containers
           Hibiscus Indoors

5.  Pests and Diseases of Hibiscus
           Spraying. Safety Measures and Equipment
           How and When to Spray

6.  Pruning Your Hibiscus
           Why Prune
           Equipment Needed
           How to Prune
           When to Prune

7.  Propagation of Hibiscus
          Air Layering

          Colour Pages - 16 pages of 192 colour plates
  (These large image pages are slow to load - please be patient)
               Page 1:    Plates   1 - 12
               Page 2:    Plates 13 - 24
               Page 3:    Plates 25 - 36
               Page 4:    Plates 37 - 48
               Page 5:    Plates 49 - 60
               Page 6:    Plates 61 - 72
               Page 7:    Plates 73 - 84
               Page 8:    Plates 85 - 96
               Page 9:    Plates 97 - 108
               Page 10:  Plates 109 - 120
               Page 11:  Plates 121 - 132
               Page 12:  Plates 133 - 144
               Page 13:  Plates 145 - 156
               Page 14:  Plates 157 - 168
               Page 15:  Plates 169 - 180
               Page 16:  Plates 181 - 192

8.  Hybridisation
           Mutations or Sports

9.  Growing Hibiscus in Colder Climates

10.  Using Hibiscus Blooms

11. Varieties of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
            Terms and Definitions

12.  Hibiscus syriacus
           List of the More Popular H. syriacus Cultivars

13.  Other Hibiscus Species
14.  Questions and Answers

15.  Catalogue of Varieties
            List of Recommended Varieties


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