The Roselle is a perennial plant in the hibiscus family that is grown for its edible leaves and flowers and for its stem fibers. It has large, showy flowers and colorful fruits. It is related to okra and is native to Africa. The leaves are used as a vegetable and are a spicy version of spinach. The calyx and the flowers are used as a flavoring, a colorant and for making teas. The calyxes of the fruits are dark red, fleshy and flavored like cranberries. It is cultivated in Florida and so one of its common names is the Florida cranberry (the true cranberry is an unrelated plant in the blueberry family that grows in bogs in northern regions). The stem fibers are strong and lustrous and are similar to jute. In temperate regions it is grown as an annual and in tropical and subtropical regions it is grown as a perennial. It has a fast grown rate. It has a deep root system which allows it to be drought tolerant. Hardy in zones 9-12.
Growing Instructions for the Roselle
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Use a sterile seed starter mix, if available. It prevents soil fungi from damaging the seeds and the seedlings. If not available, then make a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. 2. Put the soil in a pot. 3. Sow the seeds on the soil. 4. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. 5. Water the seeds. Keep the soil moist but not wet. 6. Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade. 8. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.