The Q&A Archives: Home-raised Hibiscus Seeds Won't Grow

Question: I have been pollonating my hibiscus plant and it has been producing many seeds. It is a very healthy plant and it flowers often. I've tried planting many of the seeds, but none are growing. Do you have any idea why? I was also wondering if something could be wrong because it is being fertilized by the same plant (not cross- pollination)?

Answer: Woody hibiscus (such as Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and Hibiscus syriacus) are easy from seed, even from self-pollinated plants. The seed of both must be fully mature (very dry pods) before they can be sown, however. The seed of H. rosa-sinensis (the tropical hibiscus) requires warm, moist conditions to germinate. The seed of H. syriacus (the common rose-of-sharon) must have a stratification (artificial winter) period. This can be done by sowing the seeds direct to the ground in late fall or placing moistened seeds in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for 4 months. Seeds of the herbaceous perennial Hibiscus moscheutos are not so easily germinated (they, too, must be fully ripe to start). Germination is naturally low (25-50%) and takes some time. A warm, moist seed bed is appropriate.

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