Hibiscus acetosella is a hardy perennial shrub that is most commonly grown for its striking purple, maple leaf shaped foliage. In USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11, hibiscus acetosella will grow year round with little care. If you live in a colder climate, this tropical does well potted and indoors for the winter months. Left to itself in the garden, this hibiscus will grow to heights of 36 to 50 inches. It produces large white, pink and cream-colored flowers throughout the summer. Because of its striking foliage, this plant is often grown for its leaves rather then its blooms. Make it a focal point in the landscape or set it on the porch or in a bay window to add a tropical touch to your home.
Planting Outside in the Ground
Dig a hole that is one-half again as large as the root ball. If the soil is wet and heavy, mix in clay and peat moss in equal parts to the soil around the planting hole. Like most tropicals, Hibiscus acetosella needs loose soil that drains well. Choose an area that gets good sun for at least part of the day.
Turn the plant on its side and, grasping the base of the stem, gently wiggle it free from the pot. If the roots are tightly wound around the outside of the root ball, rough up the surface with your glove to encourage the roots to spread out into the new area.
Place the root ball into the prepared hole so that the base of the stem is level with the soil. Fill in the remaining soil one handful at a time, patting it down as you go. This will prevent air pockets around the roots, which can cause oxidation and root rot.
Water the area well so that the soil is damp to a depth of at least 4 inches. Do not allow the soil to dry out between watering, in hot, dry weather you will have to water two to three times a week, less in cool or damp weather. Water whenever the soil begins to feel slightly dry to the touch.
Planting in a Pot
Fill a 15- to 20-inch pot half full with a mixture of equal parts potting soil, peat moss and coarse clean sand. You can start a small plant in a smaller pot and transplant it when it begins to outgrow its environment. Clay pots are best because they allow the roots to breath.
Remove the hibiscus from its nursery pot by turning it on its side and, grasping the base of the stem, wiggling it until it comes free.
Place the root ball in the pot so that the base of the stem is about 1 inch below the rim of the pot, fill in the soil and pat it down firmly.
Water the pot until water begins to run through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. The drainage holes are very important because they prevent water from building up around the root system.
Keep your potted hibiscus well watered. In hot weather you will need to water daily, every other day in cooler weather. Bring the plant indoors when the nighttime temperatures drop below 40 degrees.
About this Author
Olivia Parker has been a freelance writer with Demand Studios for the past year, writing for Garden Guides and eHow. She has studied herbal and alternative medicine and worked as a landscape artist and gardener. Parker is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts from Boston University Online.