This special herbal tea plant has attractive lobed leaves and creamy flowers. Once the pretty blossoms are spent, just pick and air dry the teardrop-shaped flower calyxes to make a delicious ruby-colored tea with a floral, berry aroma and well balanced, cranberry-like flavor. Antioxidant packed Hibiscus tea is delicious on its own either steaming hot or iced, or add a touch of lemon, a little honey, or your favorite fruit juice. Also called Jamaican tea or Roselle. Approx. 30 seeds/pack. Mature height 2-3 feet.
BEST TO START INDOORS: In early spring, start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before outdoor temperatures are reliably in the 50°F (10°C) range. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart in seed starting mix. Keep very warm (75 to 80°F) and moist but not soggy. Provide a strong light source until seedlings are ready to plant outside. When 2 inches tall, transplant seedlings into individual 4 inch pots. Maintain at 65 to 70°F. Feed with half strength liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks until weather is warm and nights stay above 55°F (13°C). Gradually acclimate seedlings to the outdoors.
GROWING NOTES: Hibiscus thrive in a sunny, very warm spot in rich and well-drained soil, so add compost or aged manure to the planting bed. Transplant seedlings 8 to 12 inches apart. Pinch tops when 10 inches tall to encourage a bushy, branching form.
For Containers: choose pots 18 inches in diameter and 16 to 18 inches tall.
HARVEST AND USE: After flowers have finished blooming, harvest the deep-red, teardrop-shaped, calyxes at the base of each blossom. Snap off calyxes that are ready, removing spent flower if still attached Use fresh, or air-dry for longer storage.
To Dry: spread in a single layer on paper towels or cotton cloth for 7 to 10 days in a cool, dry place indoors out of heat and humidity. Store in an airtight container. For delicious tea, crush and steep several tablespoons to each cup of boiling water. Honey or sugar and lemon are nice additions. Makes a beautiful iced tea. For a cocktail, combine with sugar, lemon, a little ginger syrup and good rum.