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Editorial Introduction:|President's Message:|Marvellous Mallows|More H. Schizopetalus|Dawn Conrad-Shew Interview|Photo Gallery - Weis and Cagle| 

Editorial Introduction
Damon Veach)

It seems like only yesterday that I became involved with the International Hibiscus Society.  I was one of the few in the beginning who believed in Richard Johnson, and that’s not bragging.  The beginning was a little rocky with a lot of misunderstandings between the two of us but having Nadeen Pickard around kept us from breaking out the boxing gloves.  Regardless, I never faltered in my support of what the organization could accomplish.  We agreed many times to disagree, and words were exchanged that actually did look like disaster warnings.  However, one thing remained the same.  Dick had this idea for a group that I thought was a great way to bring the world of hibiscus enthusiasts together.  Slowly but surely it has come to pass, and those who failed to agree with the program fell by the wayside.  Whether we had everyone’s support and membership was not really what I felt was important.  I saw the need for an international representation, not just American, or Australian, or European.  Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and all her cousins needed to be viewed not as a privately owned entity with selfish personal gains but as a way to care and share information on this beautiful flower.  Now we are about to reach another plateau in our development from a small inexperienced group to a highly knowledgeable and formidable group.  It is with pride that I can say I stayed the course.  I’ve been enriched by the friendships I’ve made and even understand some of those dissidents who only believe in themselves.  Being judgmental is a way of life for some but not for me.  I have my goals and I know my weaknesses.  I just think enjoying what you are doing and whom you are doing it with is the most important way to reap the best rewards from any organization.  I really feel that Dick Johnson has shown me that in order to succeed, you must persevere.  The road to success is paved with a lot of stones, but together I think we may have smoothed out a few along the way.  I’m grateful for the experience.

A Final Message From
The Current IHS President:

Fellow members and hibiscus enthusiasts, it is indeed a pleasure to write this final message as President of the IHS and for many reasons as follows:

First and foremost, it officially establishes, as a matter of fact, the democratic principles of this organization since we are in the process of selecting and voting in new officers that will form the board of directors and guide the IHS in coming years.  This is a milestone as it proves beyond any question of doubt that the IHS (the first cyber hibiscus society) has followed in the footsteps of other classic civic service organizations as a democratic institution, to ultimately be guided by its membership.

In our two years of existence, I am proud to have been a part of other milestones in the world of hibiscus. One is the development of a member mail list in a format that permits hibiscus enthusiasts from around the world to communicate, share photos, and enter into various activities including voting on issues from photo competitions to elections of a new governing body.  The IHS is not the first to provide such communications but it is perhaps the first that combines all of the above features which makes it the society that it is today, and this sets it apart from all others hibiscus mails list. In actuality, the IHS is a society, and the mail list is simply one of the tools used in doing what societies do.

Another of our major achievements has been the development of the International Hibiscus Society web site, which is already one of the finest in the world on the subject that is jam packed with info of interest to hibiscus enthusiasts.  Our society’s work via the Internet will most likely increase in importance in the years ahead.  It will almost assuredly remain as one of the finest web sites devoted to this subject.  A feature unique to our site is that it is interactive, meaning that we can and do put up activities in which members can participate.  I will continue to serve, until further notice, as the webmaster along with the aid of the assistant webmasters that have been very helpful including Joseph Dimino, Robert Cook and Nadeen Pickard.

One of our major milestones is the creation of the first hibiscus cyber publication, “Hibiscus International.” Damon Veach as the first editor has done a fantastic job of making this one of the best hibiscus publications, cyber or otherwise, available today.  And, importantly, it is entirely free of charge and available to IHS members every two months upon its completion date.  Moreover, all issues will be set up on our web site for everyone to view and reference, meaning it is a contribution to posterity with longevity beyond any other periodic hibiscus publications.  This is another example of a society at work as it is the result of the combined efforts of many members.

We have also created the first Internet-based seed bank wherein anyone can view the list of presently available seed and purchase specific crosses, or simply receive free seed of diverse crosses that might be available for the purpose.  As with most seed banks, one member generally provides the bulk of the seed, but this is again a group effort with a number of persons making contributions so that others can join in on the fantastic adventure of seeing these new floral gems make their debut into the world.

We also have a Hybridizers Corner section on our web site that shows some of the results of IHS members’ work.  Here one can see the results of certain crosses and get an idea of what this most interesting aspect of growing hibiscus is all about. It shows what growers of seed bank provided seed might expect to get from their efforts.  It is part of the process of developing even greater hibiscus works of art than exist today.

Other activities include the Trimestrial Photo Competition, wherein individuals submit photos in nine categories that members vote on to select the very best.  Traditionally, to date, the winners have received a genuine Tahitian Cultured Pearl as reward for their efforts.  This is both a way for people to join in on the competitions and for others to be able to view the incredible floral gems that are entered.  Nadeen Pickard has been most helpful in setting up and running the elections on several of the past TPC’s.  At the present, Nadeen also serves as an assistant mail list moderator along with myself.

The hibiscus archives, which promise to be one of the most significant IHS contributions, are also another interactive member activity where many have contributed photos and cv info.  This will eventually be available in various forms, first and foremost on our web site with photos and adjacent cv info, possibly as a spreadsheet with cv names and detailed cv info (presently under development with major work being done by Carlos Quirino).  In this project we are trying to bring together all the cv info available from various sources and add to it with the experience of our members.  Jim Purdie has been most helpful in this regard.  It is a project of real significance that could become a major IHS innovation, something of a Hibiscus CV Info Bible, where one can find out about the basic details of a given variety – the kind of info that a prospective grower needs to have to base decisions upon, the kind of info that hybridizers would be interested in, etc.

However, the hibiscus archive and associated cv info will be making its debut soon.  It will be in its most complete form to date as one of the principle features of what may be the most remarkable of our IHS achievements during our initial two years - a CD Rom entitled “The IHS 2001 Hibiscus Odyssey”.  I cannot tell you how stunning and beautiful this CD is, as it has to be witnessed to appreciate it in its entirety. 

We will shortly have something up on our web site to give you an idea of its look, feel and contents, but only the real thing does it justice as there are movie clips, narrations, spectacular hi tech graphics, etc.   It is in short a state of the art presentation, the format of which is entirely the concept and realization of Joseph Dimino to which we are eternally grateful for his monumental efforts in this regard.  The content has been provided by many, including both IHS and non-members, in close cooperation with the IHS Board of Directors that has proofed initial versions. 

A group of us has been working on this for the last 18 months.  There are several authors, and Chris Noble has contributed significantly in this regard. It is the result of many hundreds of e-mail communications, many snail mail communications and untold hours of work, numbering into the thousands I’m sure.  I think I am safe is saying that it is the finest and most complete CD ever devoted to the subject of hibiscus and will no doubt be the standard by which such products may be compared in the future.  Moreover, we hope to make this an annual project so that it will be kept up to date and grow in importance each year.  

Although some of the info can be found on the IHS web site and other web sites, a great deal of it is new material.  On CD, it becomes an almost instant reference source.  There are no lengthy downloads, just instant info and some 900 photos for the mind’s eye to admire and presented in various formats: Photo Album (high tech graphics), Hibiscus Archives (academic approach), and Flip Album (the look and feel of a coffee table picture book).

Of course, it is jam packed with other essential info including: Hibiscus Care, Propagation, Hybridizing, Insects & Diseases, Growing In Doors, Over Wintering, Registry Data, Hibiscus Sources, all issues of Hibiscus International to date, etc.  It will almost assuredly be a must-have item for any cyber hibiscus enthusiasts, from beginners to advanced growers and professionals.

The IHS is an entity that has now proven its worth and has come of age.  It is now poised to evolve into one of the important hibiscus institutions, but only time will tell just where this adventure will lead.  My personal aspirations are to see it develop into an organization that will support other hibiscus societies by helping them to increase and expand their memberships and at the same time help weld the hibiscus world into an international community. This includes collaboration with existing hibiscus societies on issues that go beyond the normal geographic limits of their organizations. To this extent, I am very pleased to state that we are now officially affiliated with the Australian Hibiscus Society and the Societe Quebecoise Des Hibiscus and are finalizing affiliation with the Hibiscus Society of Queensland. 

As one of the issues that goes beyond classic geographic limits, I think it would be great to see an international HOTY program developed.  This would permit anyone to enter it, not just members of existing societies with their independent HOTY awards.  It would take into consideration the best that all societies have produced and select what might be considered the Miss Universe of the hibiscus world, in short the best hibiscus developed in the world for a given year.

Similarly, it would be great to see a series of quarantine stations set up where new cvs will be routinely imported and made available to hibiscus enthusiasts around the world.  This would facilitate the distribution of varieties via a means that will protect from the spread of disease and damaging insects, and permit people in one country to enjoy what has previously only been available in another country.  If done routinely by supported organizations and not just sporadically as is presently the case by hibiscus retailers, this should greatly facilitate the dispersal of new cvs, and reduce the motivation to receive such varieties by more clandestine means.

Of course, one of the major and very important areas where the international community can cooperate is in the domain of nomenclature.  Mechanisms are already in place for this and need to be reinforced and perhaps diversified with other organizations assisting in the collection of data and collaborating on such a massive effort.  I think it would be great to see the IHS assist in this manner by perhaps becoming a regional representative.

One might say that the sky is the limit, but one thing for sure is that the hibiscus universe now has a new shining star to help lead the way to the future. The International Hibiscus Society is that star, and I take pride in having founded and having served as its first president for the past two years.  My hope is that it will continue to produce new milestones that are of value to the hibiscus world, and I have faith that the new management of our society is going to excel in this effort.

Sincerest Warm Regards & Happy Hibiscus Growing to All –
Dick Johnson, Tahiti

Marvellous Mallows

(This series of articles is compiled by Colleen Keena from Queensland, Australia, Kristin Yanker-Hansen from California, USA, and Marcos Capelini from São Paulo, Brazil. We hope you can share your experiences of growing the featured plants so that we can all learn more about growing mallows in varied locations.)

  Photo by Colleen Keena
    Flower taken at 1:15 p.m.


Hibiscus schizopetalus is a species of hibiscus. All hibiscus have a prominent staminal tube, a characteristic they share with the other members of the family Malvaceae. In Hibiscus schizopetalus, the length of the elongated tube exceeds the diameter of the petals. http://www.fireflybooks.com/books/5339F.html

Hibiscus schizopetalus certainly has a bloom with a difference as can be seen from the following descriptions:

"The pendulous red crepe flowers dance from the high arching branches of this vigorous 15-foot shrub”  http://www.fairchildgarden.org/blooms/aug-sept98.htm

"slender arching branches and pendant, red flowers with feathery reflexed petals".http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/carr/malv.htm


        Photo by Colleen Keena

Some Fringed Flowers
Top left: H. schizopetalus
Top right: “Carnation” (not a H. schizopetalus descendant)
Bottom: “Archerii” (a H. schizopetalus descendant)

However, the beauty of the species is linked to role in developing new varieties, e.g. pollen of this hibiscus has often been used in Hawaii for producing new varieties.http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/carr/malv.htm

This is because Hibiscus schizopetalus is one of the species known to be compatible with Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and so is of interest not only for its own merits but also for its previous and ongoing contribution to the development of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.http://www.australianhibiscus.com/howie/ch02.htm http://www.hotkey.net.au/~ganmor2/harvey/history-gh.htm


Hibiscus schizopetalus was first collected in Zanzibar in 1879 and later in coastal Kenya and Tanzania. Although frequently mentioned as being extinct, the last wild collection was made in 1975 and presumably a few plants can still be found wild despite habitat destruction.http://www.hereinhawaii.com/florafauna/botanicus/hibiscuscihzopetalus/hibischttp:/www.hereinhawaii.com/florafauna/botanicus/hibiscuscihzopetalus/hibiscuscihzopetalus.html (Not currently available)

However, it should be noted that it is now considered a species capable of spreading and it may have been an "invader" in Tanzania.http://members.lycos.co.uk/WoodyPlantEcology/docs/w-inv3.rtf

     Photo by Marcos Capelini
     H. schizpetalus in a pot


There is a lithograph of Hibiscus schizopetalus dating from 1859.http://libweb.hawaii.edu/speccoll/rare/angus/misc.html

And it was also illustrated in 1913 in a bulletin (29) entitled "Ornamental Hibiscus in Hawaii." http://www.hibiscus.org.au/hawaiian.htm


Hibiscus schizopetalus, so named as schizo means split and petalus means petals, is described in the 1913 bulletin, "Ornamental Hibiscus in Hawaii":

“BUSH:  tall, numerous slender branches, bark dark gray, brownish twigs, sparse foliage.

LEAVES: lanceolate or ovate, serrate or entire, smooth, dark green, ½ to 1½ inches wide, 1½ TO 3 inches long, petiole ¾ inches.

   Photo by Colleen Keena
   Detail of Leaves

FLOWER: 2½ inches wide, petals finely divided, strongly re-curved, dull crimson, fringed with yellow and whitish, column slender, pendulous, 3 inches long, stigmas minute on slender branches, peduncle 3½ inches, bracts none or abortive.

CALYX narrow.

Much used as a male parent.


Although the above references notes that ". H. Schizopetalus ... has been used in many crosses as a male parent," when the records are examined, Hibiscus schizopetalus or "Coral" was also used as a female parent. The resulting crosses included white, yellow, pink and red flowers.

Two blooms with H. schizopetalus as the pollen parent are commonly seen in Queensland, Australia. These are: 'Archerii' and 'Andersonii', both of which have fringed petals. 'Archerii', H. albo lascinatus x H. schizopetalus, is often found as a hedging plant whereas 'Andersonii', 'Brilliant' x H. schizopetalus, is more often grown as a specimen plant, probably because of its bronzy foliage which deepens in color in winter.

Other crosses are found in Hawaii. For information on these, seehttp://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/2001/Feb/25/225islandlife16.html


Hibiscus schizopetalus is a shrub that will reach about 6 to 10' feet (1.80m to 3.00m), with a spread of about 6 feet in the ground in sub-tropical conditions. It is a very fast grower and needs to be pruned often.

There is a range of bloom colors listed. However the most commonly seen is the red form. The following reference lists bloom colors as orange, pink, red, salmon, white and yellow.http://www.hortpix.com/pc2130.htm

Hibiscus schizopetalus may be grown as a hanging basket plant or in a pot. The plant can get very large in pots, so it needs to be pruned regularly to keep a desired form. Pruning also helps to keep an abundance of flowers, since flowers are formed on new wood.

It prefers partial shade or partial sun to full sun and soil should be moist.

It is shown as having a Hardiness Range: 9B – 11 http://www.hortpix.com/pc2130.htm

Blooms may occur sporadically all year long, but depending on the location.


Hibiscus schizopetalus is propagated by cuttings of half-ripe wood or by layers. Cuttings are slow to root and should be treated with a rooting hormone.http://www.plantoftheweek.org/week091.shtml

The following reference indicates that cuttings of the current season's growth, taken in November, in a medium of peat, sand and Durite (10:7:3), treated with IBA 1000 ppm, under mist, had a 80% strike rate in 35 days.http://telework.ucdavis.edu/root/rec00001/r0000855.htm


Hedging in a narrow space

The soft pendulous habit of Hibiscus schizopetalus has been recommended for a narrow garden bed against a wooden fence.http://www.global-garden.com.au/backissue3/editor.htm#Hibiscus hedge


Uses are shown in the following reference, but this article does not endorse these uses.http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/dictionary/tico/h.html


Hibiscus schizopetalus is palatable to grazing animals.http://www.fao.org/ag/aga/agap/frg/AFRIS/Data/404.HTM


Hibiscus schizopetalus is a beautiful species. It may be of great interest to hybridizers for its compatibility with Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, both in terms of past crosses described almost 90 years ago and also because of its potential in current hybridizing programs.


  Photo by Carlos C. Quirino Jr.
Hibiscus Schizopetalus

My fascination with rearing Hibiscus rosa-sinensis began just a little under a year and a half ago. Although I have had some twenty years experience in growing vandaceous orchids of different species and hybridizing these for nearly half that period, I have stopped rearing and caring for them due to a rabid virus which wiped out my collection of orchids. But, my interest in flowering plants has not diminished. This explains why it was easy for me to shift my interest towards growing and hybridizing H. rosa-sinensis.

I am but still a novice in the area of hibiscus hybridization but appreciate its potentials. If the results of my own previous experiences crossing vandaceous orchids provides any clue I expect some pleasant surprises with my recent efforts using H. schizopetalus, originally from East Africa, as pollen parent.

Without doubt, H. schizopetalus provides what one may call "hot" pollen as some 90-% of all pod parent plants I have used with it have produced pods and nearly half of this proportion providing viable seed. I have also attempted to produce pods on H. schizopetalus using pollen from itself and other rosa-sinensis varieties, mostly tried-and-tested garden varieties and locally-developed hybrids with bloodlines from cultivars originating from the United States and Australia but without much success yet to-date.

Photo by Carlos C. Quirino Jr.
Another Hibiscus Schizopetalus

The best time to undertake a program of hibiscus hybridization in the Philippines is between the months of November up to March, the following year. These are the cool months when hibiscus plants here are more receptive producing pods. I have, however, attempted hybridizing in what you may call the "off-season" without much success.

At the moment, I have a few seedlings growing from crossings I have made using the following local hybrids with H. schizopetalus, such as: "Millennia", "Emerita de Guzman", "Marcela", "Clare Baltazar", "Gelia Castillo", "Obdulia Sison" and the like which produce medium to large single-type blooms.

I have also used Schizo's pollen on "Rosang Ibon" ["Versicolor Rose Scott" (x) unknown] with positive results although most seeds produced by this particular cross need to be planted immediately after harvest if any germination is to be expected. I think this is a particular characteristic passed on down by "Rosang Ibon" rather than the other way around. Using Schizo on some old double varieties like "Jewel of India" [unknown (x) unknown], "Lambertii" [unknown (x) unknown], "Andersonii" ["Brilliant" (x) H. schizopetalus], "Baptistii" [unknown (x) unknown) and other unidentified white, yellow, peach and orange doubles I have in my collection have turned up negative results to-date. Geoff Harvey, however, suggests in his "Hibiscus Hybridizing Guide" (p.8) that "Most doubles cannot be used as female parents, though some of them alter during the cooler months with a rearrangement of the floral parts, such as development of stigma pads."  There still may be an opportunity for me to try again when the climate here in the Philippines makes it conducive for another attempt.

Photo by Carlos C. Quirino Jr.
Medusa (Unknown X H. schizopetalus)

What do I expect to get from Schizo ? My first point of reference, of course, would be "Archerii" which is a cross using "Albo Lacinatus" ["Tantalus" (x) H. schizopetalus] as pod parent. The result of this cross was the passing on more of Schizo's lacerated petal structure and also its reddish color down on to "Archerii". I do not believe, however, that the coloration of H. schizopetalus will always turn out to be the dominant one on all its progeny. I say this, however, with a caveat. Any result will also depend on, in a manner of speaking, Schizo's spouse whether used as pollen or pod parent.

A good case in point is the hybrid known as "Biddy" [H. schizopetalus (x) "Wilder's White"] a mini single hybridized by George J. Fister, Jr. The result of this particular cross has a flower structure that does not contain the same lacerated petals you find in "Archerii" and, more evidently, Schizo. Interestingly, however, Biddy produces a yellow flower with a small washed-out red eye zone! Both "Archerii" and Biddy have inherited the upright and spindly bush growth pattern of H. schizopetalus suggesting that these two descendants are hardy plants.

Pepito Cesario, a Filipino hibiscus hybridist of 7-years who has developed hundreds of hybrids has this to say about what to expect from H. schizopetalus using it either as a pod or pollen parent. As with any hibiscus he uses in his hybridization program, he always looks at the backside of the petals of both candidate parents to give him an indication what range of colors to expect in new seedlings produced by their crosses. In the case of H. schizopetalus, he stresses that, besides red, other colors like orange, peach and yellow are also evident if you look closely enough.

Most of the flowering hybrids he has developed using Schizo have turned up blooms across this color range in various combinations and hues. Sizes also differ from minis (3+" to 4+"), mediums (5+" to 7+") to a few large ones (8"). Nearly all of his Schizo hybrids, however, have inherited the hardy upright bush characteristics of H. schizopetalus suggesting that this particular trait is dominant and also, a welcome one.

As a hibiscus hybridizer of recent mintage, one of my basic criteria in attempts to develop hybrids is the strength of the plant itself. I say this for very practical reasons -- subsequent rearing and caring of the resulting progeny. Even if one were to produce a plant with beautiful flowers what value will it have if it cannot survive on its own for a length of time without constant care. Multiply this with hundreds of seedlings, which may be chosen for nothing else but floral beauty alone, and you come up with a recipe where the master chef ends up cleaning all his pans.

This is why I believe that H. schizopetalus could be used more often by hibiscus hybridizers to reinforce some of its more robust characteristics to its descendants and strike an acceptable balance between floral size and beauty with reduced plant care. For example, I hardly ever fertilize and water less often my Schizo bush, which is exposed under full northern tropical sun conditions all year round. But, it produces new growth and flowers for me regardless.

Yet one will never really know what the end result of all this experimenting with the genes of H. schizopetalus will bear in conjunction with others. One can only wait until all the results come in. And, borrowing a slightly altered line from the movie -- Forrest Gump: "Hibiscus are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get!"

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