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Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, commonly known as Chinese Hibiscus, is a tropical evergreen shrub recognized by its bright five-petaled flowers.
Although Chinese Hibiscus is widely cultivated in many parts of the world, its exact native origin is unknown. However, as its name suggests, it is likely to be of Asian origin.
This plant can grow very tall in ideal conditions - up to 16 feet (5 m) tall and around 10 feet (3 m) wide, forming a bush-like tree. However, in an indoor environment it will stay much smaller than this, so you don't need to worry about it outgrowing your home.
Like with other flowering plants, Chinese Hibiscus needs lots of light in order to bloom successfully. Place it in a sunny spot in your home where it will get at least a few hours of direct sunlight per day. Once it's settled, try not to move it around too much, as sudden changes in light conditions can cause your Chinese Hibiscus to drop its buds prematurely.
Keeping your plant in a sunny window will also help to keep it warm - as a tropical flower, Chinese Hibiscus appreciates the heat. Most typical indoor environments are warm enough for this plant.
These plants also love water. Try to keep the soil consistently moist but not overly wet. Although they like moisture, Chinese Hibiscus won't appreciate being sat in soggy soil, so it's still important that you ensure the plant pot has drainage holes.
Chinese Hibiscus is sometimes referred to as the 'Shoeblack Plant', or simply 'Shoe Flower'. This is because its petals can double up as shoe polish! By rubbing the flower petals on leather shoes, you can bring out the shine and color in the material to breathe new life into your shoes in a completely natural way!
Although Chinese Hibiscus is typically known for its bright red flowers, hibiscus flowers can also come in shades of orange, yellow, pink, peach, white or purple.
As of 1960, Chinese Hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia, known as bunga raya, which translates to 'celebration flower'.
Hibiscus is sometimes used to make tea and has had traditional uses in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine too. For instance, hibiscus is an ingredient in various herbal mixtures to help treat problems such as high blood pressure, cough, hair loss, and as a way to assist weight loss. The reason that hibiscus tea is so strong is because it contains a high level of plant acids, including tartaric acid, citric acid, and a hibiscus-specific acid known as allo-hydroxycitric acid lactone.