What Is a Double Hibiscus?

Mary McMahon

A double hibiscus is an ornamental plant in the genus Hibiscus with more than five petals. The additional petals give the blooms a very full, frothy appearance that some gardeners may find aesthetically pleasing. These plants are cultivated as ornamentals in tropical and subtropical regions across the world. Some also produce products usable in foods like hibiscus tea.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

This plant genus is large and includes a number of species grown ornamentally. These tropical Asian natives have since spread all over the world and are especially closely associated with tropical islands. They can grow to varying heights, depending on the species, and produce showy, aromatic blooms. In the case of the double hibiscus, the blooms have additional petals arranged around the base five.

Double hibiscus flowers can have layers of ruffly petals, causing them to look almost like peonies, or to have a more restrained appearance with subtler petal arrangements. Numerous hibiscus cultivars are under constant development, and some are very unique hybridized versions that may not be readily available. The blooms can be varicolored, and the petals may vary in shape and texture to create a more deeply layered appearance.

These flowers can be useful for cut flowers, corsages, and various arrangements. The large and dramatic appearance makes them most suitable for centerpieces. It may be possible to order cut flowers through a florist or garden supply, especially if they are needed in large volumes for an event like a wedding.

Gardeners with an interest in double hibiscus may be able to obtain plants and seeds through nurseries and garden supplies. Seed exchanges are also a potential resource; many organizations that promote hibiscus cultivation offer seed banks and exchanges to their members. The plants need full to partial sun and moist, well-drained soil to thrive. They prefer tropical to sheltered subtropical climates, and can be grown in greenhouses in particularly cold regions.

It is possible to shape a double hibiscus with pruning and training. Gardeners can use the plants in hedges, massed plantings, and other garden features. They are especially useful in butterfly and bird gardens, as they attract nectar-seeking species and provide them with shelter. It is important to be aware that because the plant may not be native, it may attract non-native pollinators, and this could be an issue in an ecologically fragile environment. Gardeners with concerns about this issue may want to seek information from native plant societies to find out what they can safely grow.

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