Wild Hibiscus – Grow & Preserve your Own

I have a confession, yesterday, while reading the inaugural issue of Dabble Magazine, I came across a mention of Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup.  I was captivated by their beauty in a champagne glass and the way they supposedly open up after you plop them in your flute with some bubbly. You can buy them at a variety of specialty food stores (the cheapest I found was here) but ever the DIY/ gardener I went out in search of the plant that actually produces these to find out if I, or you in other zones, might be able to grow these ourselves.  I would love to add canned flowers to my preserving repertoire and wouldn’t you agree, a locally grown variety would be a fabulous addition to a Farmer’s market stand?
(BTW these come from Australia).

wild hibiscus flowers in syrup

So here is the lowdown.  You need to plant Hibiscus sabdariffa (Terengganu variety if possible) – they look like this:

wild hibiscus plants

wild Hibiscus sabdariffa Terengganu

You can buy seed for these through Tropilab and they report that these will grow in zone 7 and above.  (but I have to think if you have a heated greenhouse, in most zones, that this would be a fun addition to your collection.) I haven’t yet found a source for potted plants.

Regarding the canning: the ingredients are simple. Cane Sugar, Water and Flowers. Though I have not yet tried it, I think that if were to make a simple syrup (2 Parts sugar to 1 part water – boil until combined) it would be possible to pack the jar, pour the cooled syrup over the top and then can normally with a hot water bath.  Does anyone already grow these that I might be able to source some flowers for a trial run?

(I am referencing this page for some wild hibiscus related recipes that I am taking tips from — including removal of the calyx).

If you try this, please let us know, I am curious to hear, see and maybe even taste the results!

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

10 Comments

  1. Torchy on March 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I’m going straight to our nursery and see if they have these. I’ll keep in touch and let you now what happens. Thanks for all the information.

  2. Mary Ann Newcomer on March 2, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Those are delish in champagne. I bought some a while back and think they are a hoot. They are pretty, and have no particular flavor of their own, but put one in a friend’s glass (or your own) and go for the wow! I’m going to try to grow them. Thanks for the seed source.

  3. Sheila H on March 2, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I’ve always wanted to try this so I finally bought some myself and a couple to give away as gifts. Thought this would be fun to give along with a bottle of champagne! Wish I could grow them in zone 4!

  4. Zaza on October 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I’d like to grow these in zone 6 b
    Any info

  5. jillia barrie on January 28, 2012 at 4:28 am

    I live newcastle nsw, and bought a plant from Bunnings. In a few weeks it has thrived and has dozens of delicious little red buds. Will now try to preserve!!! I think it’s just sterilized glass jars with cane sugar and water boiled. Can’t wait to try. Wonder how long they will last. If sterile should be months until air is allowed in!

    • rochelle on January 28, 2012 at 7:03 am

      Jillia — I am I so excited to hear how this goes!! Please let us know!

  6. Debbie on June 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I purchased some of the stems of the flowers last summer at a Farmers Market and kept them drying on the stem until this spring when I emptied the pods of their dried seeds and planted them. To my surprise, I now have 11 plants about 18 inches tall. I live in New Orleans, La. so I think that they will thrive here. I can’t wait to see if they will bloom!

  7. Plants Guru on June 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Rochelle Greayer, this article is so nice we have 1000’s of hibiscus in our nursery but we did not any idea about how to preserve.
    Thanks for share with us.

  8. Hoteluri Eforie Nord 2016 on June 11, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by
    searching for hotels

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