April May June 2010
S P E C I A L
Tah. Christmas Angel
Tah. Purple Odyessy
P O I N T S O F
I N T E R E S T :
Dear Hibiscus Friends:
Editors Report Page 2
It is amazing but two years have flown by and my second (non consecutive) term
as President of the IHS is coming to a close. I've been fortunate to have a very
responsive Board of Directors to work with, and we have together accomplished
I N S I D E T H I S
most everything I had intended to get done during my term.
I S S U E :
Hibiscus International has been reinstated after a several years of inactivity and is
running flawlessly with Jim Purdie as editor.
This IHS auction, also inactive for a number of years, has been resurrected and is
functioning optimally under the direction of Kes Winwood. As a result our treasury
Article Pages 3 to 8
has gown, which puts us on a stable financial footing, and will permit us to do more
good things in the international hibiscus community.
The Nomenclature program is working wel . Joseph Dimino streamlined the
Article by Jim Purdie
program so that less work was required to get new submissions completed. He
has now passed this task on to Ian Rabenda who has kept it running smoothly. As
Birth of a Bloom
of recently Brian Cheers of the AuHS, serving as the International Cultivar
Registrar, has been prompt in approving new IHS registration submissions. I
believe it is safe to say that the IHS nomenclature program has now established
itself as a major contributor to new seedling registrations from around the world.
Geoff Harvey Page 10
Our web site problems have essentially been solved. The web site chores are
now divided between a team, with Ian Rabenda heading that effort. He is assisted
by Kes Winwood who handles text up dates, including H.I., and, along with Ian,
Science Digest Snippet
trouble shoots problems. Dave Cheney handles the photo updates on the home
page. Jim Purdie handles all the web site set up for the TPC (trimestiral photo
Photo Tim's Delight
contest) and the SOTY/HOTY programs as well as setting up all the voting. This
division of labor seems to be working well, and we have now updated most of the
critical areas on the web site.
Winners TPC 2010-2
The IHS SOTY/HOTY program is working wel , and new incentives have been
developed to encourage participation. Nina Bjelovucic has been invaluable as the
IHS HOTY Coordinator keeping all parties on track, i.e., wood to the propagation
5 Winners of 2009 HOTY
station in Sicily, distribution of wood to the trialing stations, trialing station reports
to the HOTY Panel of Judges, etc. We have now selected two IHS HOTY's and
we are hopeful the program will expand to become a valuable contribution to the
hibiscus world, especially those that cannot participate in existing HOTY programs
due to their rules or limitations.
The IHS seed bank is running smoothly with Peter Moll serving as the IHS Seed
Hibiscus International 1
This Internal Statutes Committee has deliberated for several month and made its recommendations for statute
modification to the Board Of Directors. The membership was invited to participate. The BOD has approved of those
modifications and the membership will soon be voting to ratify them. Assuming they are ratified, we will have
accomplished bringing the statutes up to date to better serve our current needs.
The election committee, headed by Kes Winwood and aided by Clay McGee, has now been busy for a couple of
months developing the slate of new candidates for the upcoming election. With things running smoothly, I am
pleased to see that the IHS will soon exercise its democratic privilege of electing a new Board of Directors.
As I close this term I take pride in noting that since its inception in year 2000 with 3 members we have grown to
having two member forums, English (with 755 members) and Spanish (with members 56 and growing).
It is my sincerest wish that future presidents and their board of directors wil diligently abide by the statutes and our
various programs and to build upon these to further aid the IHS and it affiliates in contributing to the global hibiscus
Warmest Regards & Happy Hibiscus Growing To All
Dick Johnson, IHS President
Welcome to the Editor`s Report, and I hope you enjoy the article this month in which Esteban McGrath Holliday tells
his story of how he grows Hibiscus at his place and backs this up with photos of blooms and views of his property.
He certainly has a steep block and he shows how he has overcome this obstacle.
Next time we are going to Germany to Ursul a Lengdobler`s home and she wil describe how she is able to grow her
plants in a cold winter and what she has to do to make her plants survive in her in her enviroment. We do not
appreciate how easy it is for us in our Tropical and sub-tropical climates where we leave our plants out all year to be
able to produce flowers in abundance and do not have the problem of carrying our pots out and in with the change of
the weather. What we have to do to grow and look after our favourite plants`
This time we are sending a separate supplement of how Rita Feijo Abreu from Brazil and Kes Winwood from Canada
conducted an exercise with Rita sprouting her seeds and then sending them to Kes in Canada, and they arrived
safely and they are quite happy with the results. The whole process is explained with text and photos of each part of
the exercise and I hope you can gain some benefit from this and perhaps you would like to try and get seeds from
Rita and see how they arrive at your place.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
President- Richard Johnson : Vice-President : Francoise Levavasseur : Sec./Treasurer : Wayne Hall:
Past President : Constantino Dominguez :
European : Dennis Bojcic : Indian : Rajtilak Patil : Pacific : Charles Atiu
Sth. American : Elizabeth Jordan : Australia : Jim Purdie : USA : Robert Carran :
Membership Committee Chairperson :
: Nina Bjelovucic : Editor : Jim Purdie :
Web Master TGHL : Joseph Dimino :
Web Address-- www.internationalhibiscussociety.org
E-mail Address-- InternationalHibiscusSociety@yahoogroups.com
I.H.S. PATRON-- DAVID FRANZMAN
Hibiscus International 2
Sembrando en Puerto Rico
By Esteban McGrath Holliday
Since arriving in Puerto Rico in 1968 after a tourist (In green) visit to Vietnam..I fell in love with the flora and fauna
here at Lat 18-30 N in the Caribbean.
After operating my turn-key Engineering firm for 12 yrs we commenced as wel to plant vegetables commercially on
the South Coast of the island. There we began a breeding program for Abelmoscus esculenta as this vegetable
was my number one seller on our 260 acre plantings annually. Later its name was changed to Hibiscus
esculenta. Many know it as Quimbombo, Bamia, Bhindi Goumbo and Okra..Honestly..even considering a field of
Sunflower....An Okra field in the morning is one of the most beautiful sights to see...Imagine seeing 300,000 Hibiscus
yellow flowers al around and gone by the afternoon.
In 1988 we purchased an 8 acre farm in the mountains in Guaynabo at 350M altitude over sea level only minutes
from our home in San Juan with the intent of doing a farm for Oriental fruits ...Jak fruit specifically..Bear in mind that
many of the roads in the Campo (Countryside ) of Puerto Rico are lined with Amapola bushes...(Red Hibiscus
flowers). A red flowering..bullet proof plant cv..Well in 1997 when I had planned to sel the vegetable operation on
the South Coast,,, we decided to commence plantings of Tropicals for landscaping..
After going to a plant show we immediately became aware of the local interest in flowering plants. At that time Luis
Acevedo was the grower of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis on the island (135 mi x 37 mi) of Puerto Rico.
I began to acquire mother plants...but upon planting them out mostly American stock...few.... I found to be excellent
for the Tropics of Puerto Rico...LEGGY PLANTS...WIDE OPEN GROWTH...sporadic flowering .whatever....I still
remember what Atti, my worker, said about Red Snapper...to me one of the all time best flowers.Shame its so great
of a flower, but the plant looks like it has AIDS So we started from there.
About the time we were starting out there was a crazy Marine biologist in Tahiti struggling to get together a group of
international growers, collectors .and hobbyists., I knew that on my own it would take me too long to get a real
business going in HIBISCUS as at that time the craze was just starting. Thanks to Dick Johnson`s, the not so crazy
untiring efforts and the ability to pull together the big guns in Oz, Daemon, Charles Black, Luc Vanorbeeck, Barry
Schlueter and Curt Sinclair in the USA, I was able to bring together my farming experience with Hibiscus expertise all
over the world..
We with like 50 cv`s from all over the world started to breed and cull..looking for a bul et proof bush, cv that would
real y set many flowers in a day,, and last a bit longer as well, we had sincere input and help from Dick Johnson,
Allan Little ,Richard Mansbridge as wel as Mervyn Weis. I mean help.....like plant grass green sided up..but mostly
with seeds, cuttings and plants. Dick was always there to openly assist...just like he is today. And Wayne Hall with
his experiences in planting in the of Arizona. Bob Rivers-Smith of New Zealand and of course Jim Purdie ..from oz..
On our farm @ 350m alt (1150 ft elevation) it is only flat if you look down...so my compadre Guillermo Oliver LLinaz
showed me how coffee farmers use the jungle with roads and terraces..
We cleared 8 acres with bulldozer and set terraces 10m wide x the mountain contour every 16m of elevation. .The
first planting was a thril ,. as we were instal ing drip. I never go anywhere without my drip irrigation as after 12 years
planting in the desert as mechanized as possible and being able to fumigate, feed and irrigate 75 acres at a pop I
knew there would be no better insurance than drip irrigation. Mind you at our farm, it rains 2000mm annual y but its
not there when you need it, so drip is always the secure answer..
We as wel determined that to keep erosion down as well as to provide a control ed planting area on a 45 degree
slope ,we had to do something, a Tropical plantation on a rainy day means falling down 10+ times..so we planted
tyres side by side ..filling in the inner parts with stone and tosca with prepared mix in the planting area. of the tyre.
Works fantastically. My workers called it the Caribe Hilton referring to the ease of going in and out of the planting
area for the mother plants.
Another concept we learned was to take advantage of the jungle for shade...as Hibiscus are not indoor plants...God
tends to take better care of plants than people do ...we say... When we plant in the tyres, I maintain cv`s as Mother
plants that are very bushy, heavy setters and top flowers as well..the better and more requested the plant cv the
more we have planted out. As we multiply by marcotte..producing a flowering large bush in 120 days off the mother
plant. is not un-reasonable .
Today we see so many home owners looking for instant gratification. Meaning larger plants, so that is our present
Hibiscus International 3
On our farm, the potting mix we use can become expensive and every individual habitat can comment on what is
best for them..We use a mix of coarse sand and stable bottoms for a low cost very organic excellent mix..both grow
wise and cost wise..We are now experimenting with using what we cal Polvil o..the fines up to 3-4 mm of ground
stone from the nearby quarry. As we plant Adeniums and Plumeria as well ,drainage is of the essence. I do like the
Polvillo. as depending on the product we are planting, we vary the mix percentages. In hibiscus we use 2 parts
Polvillo or River sand (Coarse ) to one part stable bottom and top dress monthly with stable bottoms on all mother
plants as wel as marketing plants.
Feed ...Hibiscus are extremely heavy feeders in the Tropics...so top dressing with the stable bottoms serves three-
fold purpose...excellent organic food, serves as a semi ground clothe and holds moisture in due to the organic make
up and is very inexpensive..Here the PASO FINO stables must clean out the stable every 10-14 days to keep their
expensive horse healthy. So we usually get a truck load free. We do drip Urea as wel as 20-20-20 and Potassium
sulfate, MgSO4(Epsom Salts} is sprayed for flowering set..
La Plaga or insect control.
When in the vegetable business I learned that a maintenance spray is much better than a knockdown spray...so we
spray every 2 weeks and apply Imadficloprid when the ants show up every 4 months..
One area I always have a constant problem with is Erinose mites..we control them with various chemicals ,but there
is no keeping them out. I find that Jim Purdie`s recommendation to remove al damaged leaves and then spray twice
seems to give the best control...With the use of Imasdicloprid, there is no longer the worry about Mealybug, White fly,
Aphids and other sucking insects.
For pathologicals we use Actinovate as mycrorrhiza and Copper oxide for leaf problems in rainy season. Sulfur WP
is always an excel ent choice as it is not only an insecticide, but also a fungicide.
Breeding./Our breeding season is Dec 10-May 10.In this time frame we do about 4000 crosses with possibly 60%
taking. As you al know, some mother plants throw many seeds..and some 1-2.and many are just not good pod
bearers. I well know that from habitat to habitat this changes.
I am enthralled with reds..to me the most difficult to look for in a cross. After all with Dragon`s Breath as the high
bar...it is difficult..3 years ago we only did reds...out of 2000 + crosses planted out we kept 3-4 only. those being front
N` Center, Big Red Mama and Red Zarches. In breeding I look and hope for white center or solid center...If it`s going
to be a red center,,, let`s have the large blood red eye of Herm Geller. That I enjoy.
All in all...in 12 yrs of growing hibiscus commercially as wel as 30 in breeding..I realize how little I really know about
the plant world.
San Juan,Puerto Rico
This photo shows
the slope that
Esteban has in his
garden and the drip
lines which supplies
the water and all his
feeding and insecti-
cide or what ever he
wants to give his
plants and also he
uses tyres to hold
the garden from
washing down the
Blueberry Hill & 6
mother plants with
Georgia's Pearl in
the top right of
Hibiscus International 4
Hibiscus International 5
Magia Blanca & Erin Rachael
Batida D'Uva [Smokey Mtn. X Marilyn
Hibiscus International 6
Satita and Crossfire [In the background you can see the sloping country side]
Hibiscus International 7
Big Red Mama
Rainbow Shower in flower, this plant is planted along the rim of the property
Hibiscus International 8
The birth of a bloom
BY JIM PURDIE
This is a story of the steps followed in hybridising a new hibiscus bloom.
There is nothing which will give you as much delight, as collecting your own seed which results from your hybridising,
plant them, see them burst through the soil, and you follow their growth and await their first flower. If you are lucky
enough to have a prize winning bloom at the end of the event, then you have a great feeling of accomplishment.
At the start, you have to think about what you would like in a new plant. You have to pick two parents that are good
bloomers, nice branching bush, not flopping al over the ground and vigorous growth.
You look for the colour of the flowers which you would like to pass on, good shaped flowers, not one which is often
crippled, and does not present itself well, and whether you want singles, doubles or
It is best to learn from experience, which flowers wil be good mothers or pod parent as some blooms are not fertile.
Trial and error wil soon show which ones work the best.
Leave the mother on the bush and take the bloom which is going to be your father off the bush and take it to the
bush containing your mother bloom. Then rub the yel ow pol en which is on the staminal column of the father on to
the 5 stigma pads which are at the top of the staminal column of the mother. The stigma pads should be sticky to be
r e c e p t i v e
t h e
p o l l e n ,
a n d
t h e
p o l l e n
s a c s
s h o u l d
o p e n
f o r
t h e
pollen to stick to the pads.
If your attempt at hybridising is successful, the flower petals wil fall off after a day or two, and the calyx which
contains the ovary wil start to swel .
When you pol inate a bloom, always tie a tag on the stem of the flower, and write on it the date of hybridising, the
pod parents, with the mother`s name first and the father`s name second. The tag is
important as a record later on and also helps to identify which bloom has been pol inated, so that you do not pull it off
when col ecting dead flowers from the bush. If you are not careful, you could prune it off in a couple months time
when you are pruning your bushes.
When the flower falls off, tie a piece of nylon stocking over the swollen calyx too prevent loss of the seeds in a couple
of months time when the calyx bursts open.
When the calyx does open, you can find anything from 2 to 32 seeds inside depending how wel the pollination
Plant the seeds in some seed raising mixture, after nicking the top of the seeds with a razor blade, and exposing the
white layer inside the seed. The seed is in the shape of a skull and you hold the pointed end with your finger nail and
nick the rounded part of the seed to expose the white layer, being sure that you do not nick too much off as it will cut
into the leaves when they emerge, although if you do cut into the leaves they will stil grow al right just that they will
have bits out of the edge of the leaf.
g o t
s e e d s
o u t
t h e
c a l y x
o n e
t h e
b l o o m s
w h i c h
pollinated and we got 4 seedlings from these 6 seeds. After growing them for a couple of years we only kept one , as
the others were not worth keeping., so they were destroyed. You have to be ruthless and destroy the plants which
are not up to scratch.
t h e n
g r a f t e d
s o m e
t h e
p a r e n t
p l a n t
t h e
r o o t s t o c k
R u t h
Wilcox, and after about another year it started to bloom well and started to win prizes at monthly meetings. The
bloom`s name was Tim`s Delight
Each seed from a pod wil produce a different flower. No two wil be alike.
Tim`s Delight was chosen to be in the Hibiscus of the Year competition for 2003 and is named after our Grandson . It
has taken the pink of Old Frankie and the deep red of Fanfare, and produced a flower which has pink showing in the
colour of the red. It stands out on the bush when they are in flower.
We find they wil flower sooner if you plant them in the ground rather than leave them in a pot.
I hope that you try hybridising and get a good bloom which you wil be proud of and you can say I bred that`.
Hibiscus International 9
Hibiscus- incompatability barriers
Written by G. J. Harvey [October 1983]
M a n y
t h o u s a n d s
ye a r s
a g o
t h e
o r i g i n a l
a n c e s t o r s
o u r
c a l l e d
r o s a -
s i n e n s i s
m u s t
h a v e
b e e n
u s e f u l
a t t r a c t i v e
m e n .
T h i s
accounts for the wide spread occurrence of species and forms from Africa to Hawaii which were found to be cross
compatible. What we now have to work with is a huge number of hybrids, mostly highly
polymorphic. It would be expected that such a collection of highly bred plants would present many incompatability
problems to hybridizers and in fact such is the situation.
I am by no means certain where these incompatability barriers occur. If I did know I am not so sure that I would be so
interested in attempting to breed them. A very difficult cross that may eventually produce a
single pod with one or two seeds provides an interesting challenge and satisfaction. The situation could be compared
with the col ector of rare plants who discovers that they have been mass produced by tissue culture and hence ren-
dered virtual y valueless.
N e v e r t h e l e s s
w h i l s t
h i b i s c u s
h y b r i d i z i n g
e x i s t s
t h e r e
w i l l
conscientious attempts and no doubt success in overcoming some of the incompatability barriers. This should crease
the potential to produce the improved seedling results as desired by the hybridizers.
Some hibiscus cultivars are very fertile and present few problems in the breeding of them. Most of these types have
been exploited rather extensively and have little to offer.
T h e
o b v i o u s
o b j e c t
c r o s s i n g
h i b i s c u s
p r o d u c e
s o m e t h i n g
superior to what already exists. The best approach is to cross quality with quality. We must know what is desirable
commercially and we should have a good knowledge of our working material, resource, gene pool or whatever term
The ideal male parent should bloom prolifically and present adequate pollen at all times. The pol en stil attached to
the stamens can be kept in a dry place for 2 to 3 days until required.
A definite barrier to hybridizing many varieties is the short interval from bud opening to yellowing of juvenile seed
capsule and dropping which may occur in a period of 2 or 3 days. It is very likely that inadequate time exists from
normal pollination to fertilization of the ovules. We would need to know how long it takes the pol en grains to
germinate on the stigma pads and then grow a lengthy distance [usually 4 inches or so] from the style to the ovary. If
we can increase the available time period by [a] pollinating in cool weather, [b] pollinating one full day
before bloom opening or [c] the use of chemicals to slow down the process and length the life of the ovary, then we
may overcome this.
The female parts of many blooms are imperfect or missing, therefore the breeding of them is impossible. In many
double blooms stigma pads will be missing, though dissection of the ovary may reveal the less obvious faults such as
missing or imperfect ovules. In some cultivars pseudopods are usually formed in which the ovary grows and
b e c o m e s
s e c o n d
b l o o m ,
o f t e n
f u l l y
o p e n i n g
d o u b l e
f o r m
complete with stamens. The original bloom is a single, sometimes crested, which displays no abnormalities.
American Seed Pod information hints at the occurrence of polyploidy or a replication of chromosomes in some
cultivars. It appears to me that a cultivar that can be self pollinated, but is not successful as a male or female parent
w i t h
o t h e r
c u l t i v a r s
n o r m a l l y
u s e d
t h e
b r e e d i n g
program, must be a polyploidy suspect. Unless we are to regard polyploidy as being beneficial to our breeding
programmes, there seems to be no need to commence on chromosome counts. We may at a later date identify
some suspects which for some reason should be tested or more information sought.
The pol en from some cultivars apart from being scarce during the breeding season, may not usually reach a
Likewise the stigma pads of some cultivars may not become receptive. Personal y I judge both the pol en and stigma
pads on appearance before deciding or persevering with a potential cross. I have heard that the rubbing of the sticky
substance from a compatible stigma on to the incompatible stigma may make it receptive. I suspect that the stigmatic
s u r f a c e
q u i c k l y
d r i e s
o u t
d i r e c t
s u n l i g h t ,
w h i c h
w h y
s e e d
p o d
production near the protected base of the plant is usually more successful. Some breeders with time and patience to
spare carefully tie down each pol inated bloom for protection from the sun, whilst others cover the staminal column
with a small cylinder of aluminium foil. A higher percentage of fertilization seems to take place during humid, overcast
days which suggests that the stigmatic surface has remained receptive for a longer period and/or the life of the
bloom and ovary has been extended.
S o m e t i m e s
p s e u d o
p o d s
w i l l
d e v e l o p
w i t h o u t
f e r t i l i z a t i o n .
E m b r y o
abortion often occurs at the 3rd or 4th week stage. Possibly the embryo does not acquire sufficient food reserves or
the parents are of a different polyploidy constitution.
In conclusion it is assumed that infertility is mostly due to slow growing pol en tubes which fail to reach the ovules or
does so when they are past the fertilization stage. John Richardson has suggested that
applying Butyric Acid and Glycerine to the flower stem may prolong the life of the ovules so that fertilization chances
Hibiscus International 10