As a fan of hibiscus tea, I have long been tempted to try to grow roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), but I had an idea that it wouldn’t perform well here in Pennsylvania—that it might not have time to produce its colorful and flavorful calyces before frost. I’m glad I finally tried it, because it turned out to be beautiful plant in the garden and did provide a useful harvest as well. (I have read that the lobed leaves and cream-to-pink flowers are edible too but haven’t tried them myself. The bright red stems also produce a strong natural fiber.)
The important thing to know is that it is a “short-day” plant, meaning that it produces flower buds mainly when there’s less than 12 hours of light per day. With an early indoor start, my plants had a chance to produce flowers in late spring to early summer for a mid to late summer harvest, then another round of bloom for a fall harvest (the calyces of those flowers matured in time though the seeds didn’t). Because the performance can vary by climate and weather, I encourage you to do further research on how the plant performs in your particular area if you’re not open to simply giving it a try. My plants reached about 2 feet tall; apparently they can reach 6 feet in warmer areas. Full sun. Reportedly perennial in Zones 8 to 11; can be grown as an annual elsewhere, in the ground or in a container.
Collected in August 2022. At least 12 seeds.
Please read the germination information as well before ordering.