,6 - 2 x 1 m
Dark red-pink; summer
sun; shrubbery; rockery; narrow spaces; wildlife butterflies butterfly host bees
rocky places; bushveld; grassland
highveld; bushveld savanna
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An attention grabber when in flower, this slender shrub has a similar growth habit to its delicious pink sister, Hibiscus pedunculatus: narrow, offering shoulder-high form in a bed (0,6 – 2 x 1 m), and relatively sparse of foliage. Leaves are similar too, clustering along the stems and slightly hairy. The flowers are an intense reddish/pink, a most unusual shade in indigenous species and cannot be mistaken for anything other than one of the Hibiscus (MALVACEAE family). Flowers are relatively small with 5 petals in total creating a flower of 25 – 30 cm in diameter. As with many of this family, the flowers darken as they age. Fruits that follow are green capsules covering seed that turns black when ripe. Soft silky white hairs cover the seeds which catch the wind and assist in their dispersal. Hibiscus praeteritus is a sun lover thriving naturally in bushveld and rocky hillsides in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Here, they survive summer rains and the dry and marginally frosty winters of these regions. It is safest to plant this Hibiscus in a protected area to prevent any stronger frost damage. It appears to be quite versatile, growing well in the moist summer heat and misty winters of Hillcrest although it prefers the free draining rockier soils of Westville where the foliage is more abundant and each bush flowers more prolifically. Grow it in a mixed thicket: the flowering season corresponds with the intense purple of Polygala virgata and the similar heights make this an outstanding combination in the thicket. Place near-by some smaller shrubs like the Orange Bird-berry, Hoslundia opposita, or the grey leaves and sprawling habit of Salvia africana-lutea whose peach/brown flowers help to tone down the striking colour. All are tough water-wise species, and this combination will tolerate mild frost. In its natural bushveld region, it combines naturally with Strychnos madagascariensis (Black Monkey- orange), Euphorbia tirucalli (Rubber euphorbia/ Firesticks), Aloe cryptopoda, Sansevieria pearsonii, Barleria elegans and Kleinia longiflora. There is not much information regarding this plant, but reports suggest it is almost entirely drought resistant, so over-watering is to be avoided. How to propagate: while it will germinate from seed sown in the spring to early summer, germination results are somewhat inconsistent, and a fairly long process, taking up to 5 weeks before any leaf can be seen above the seeding mix. The most reliable method is via stem cuttings taken in spring or summer. Ensure your germinating mix drains well, equal parts fine bark and river sand work well, and keep the cuttings moist. Rooting takes 2- 3 weeks.