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Hibiscus acetosella is often confused with:
Acer palmatum Acer palmatum
Native alternative(s) for Hibiscus acetosella:
Hibiscus laevis Flowers
Hibiscus moscheutos Native habitat
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Gaillardia pulchella Swallowtail butterfly
Pontederia cordata Pontederia cordata
Cornus kousa Cornus kousa

Hibiscus acetosella

Previously known as:

  • Hibiscus eetveldeanus
Phonetic Spelling
hih-BIS-kus a-sey-toe-SELL-ah
Description

Cranberry hibiscus is a tender perennial sub-shrub in the Malvaceae family native to tropical eastern Africa.  While flowers might be the first thought when you hear the name hibiscus, the deep purple red foliage is what makes this shrub stand out.

Rapidly growing 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide, cranberry hibiscus requires full sun and will perform best in average to moist but not wet soil. The growth habit is somewhat sparse and leggy so plant densely or pinch back tips to enourage fuller growth.  Cut it back to the ground before winter.  While it may not survive year-round outdoors, it can be a overwintered as a houseplant.   It grows easily from seed or can be propagated from stem cuttings taken in the fall and rooted in water or soil.

Plant in a cottage garden, mass plant in the back of a border, use as an annual specimen plant, in containers, or use as a seasonal hedge. Some pinching back may be necessary if grown in a container to maintain bushiness and size. Intersperse this plant with others that have lime green or silver leaves, or with ornamental grasses for some contrast and interest in the landscape. If you are growing this plant as an annual,

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.

 VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Haight Ashbury’ (US PPAF)
    leaves resemble marjiuana
  • ‘Jungle Red’
    deeply dissected palmate leaves
  • 'Mahogony Splendor'
  • 'Maple Sugar’ (US PP16,286)
    burgundy black leaves
  • ‘Panama Bronze’ (PPAF)
    deeply dissected purple-bronze
  • ‘Panama Red’ (PPAF)
    deeply dissected bright red leaves and flowers
  • 'Red Shield'
    most common, deep burgandy
'Haight Ashbury’ (US PPAF), ‘Jungle Red’, 'Mahogony Splendor', 'Maple Sugar’ (US PP16,286), ‘Panama Bronze’ (PPAF), ‘Panama Red’ (PPAF), 'Red Shield'
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#maroon#specimen#wildlife plant#purple leaves#red flowers#red leaves#nectar plant#showy leaves#winter interest#fall interest#cottage garden#interesting leaves#hedges#specialized bees#fast growing#summer flowers#crimson leaves#border planting#flowers late summer#border back#flowers early fall#flowers early winter#flowers late fall#bee friendly#flowers mid-fall#tropical feel#container plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Haight Ashbury’ (US PPAF)
    leaves resemble marjiuana
  • ‘Jungle Red’
    deeply dissected palmate leaves
  • 'Mahogony Splendor'
  • 'Maple Sugar’ (US PP16,286)
    burgundy black leaves
  • ‘Panama Bronze’ (PPAF)
    deeply dissected purple-bronze
  • ‘Panama Red’ (PPAF)
    deeply dissected bright red leaves and flowers
  • 'Red Shield'
    most common, deep burgandy
'Haight Ashbury’ (US PPAF), ‘Jungle Red’, 'Mahogony Splendor', 'Maple Sugar’ (US PP16,286), ‘Panama Bronze’ (PPAF), ‘Panama Red’ (PPAF), 'Red Shield'
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#maroon#specimen#wildlife plant#purple leaves#red flowers#red leaves#nectar plant#showy leaves#winter interest#fall interest#cottage garden#interesting leaves#hedges#specialized bees#fast growing#summer flowers#crimson leaves#border planting#flowers late summer#border back#flowers early fall#flowers early winter#flowers late fall#bee friendly#flowers mid-fall#tropical feel#container plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Hibiscus
    Species:
    acetosella
    Family:
    Malvaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Burundi to S. Tropical Africa
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Hibiscus support the following specialized bee: Ptilothrix bombiformis.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Houseplant
    Perennial
    Shrub
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Winter
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Usually maroon (brownish-red) or crimson about 2 inches across, solitary borne in the leaf axils and are somewhat hidden by the leaves making them somewhat inconspicuous. Blooming generally in late summer, fall, and sometimes in winter (short day plant), but sometimes plants die from frost before flowers appear.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Variegated
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Usually maroon (brownish-red), dark purple, or crimson but some can have tints of green. This plant has palmate, (unequally) dissected, and lobed or unlobed leaves that resemble Japanese maple.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Deep red purple stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Hedge
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Specialized Bees