Kata Rocks
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Phuket Gardening: Flower power – Top of the pops

Years ago I offered my tentative opinions about the best plants to cultivate in your Phuket garden. Now older and I hope a little wiser, I am trying again.

Sunday 24 December 2017, 10:00AM


The criteria are much the same: first, visual appeal, second, hardiness – the ability to survive, nay thrive, in Phuket’s climate; three, fragrance – and ability to attract bees, birds and butterflies.

The first flower most people probably think of when tropical gardens are on the agenda is the hibiscus. Top of the Phuket pops, there must be few gardens on the island that do not boast a plant or more, not just of Rosa sinensis (the most widely grown), but also of the other hibiscus species as well. All derive from the mallow (malvaceae) family.

The red version is the national flower of Malaysia and is seen in offerings and decorations from Bali to Bora Bora. The hibiscus blooms so profusely that each bush carries a significant number of flowers at the same time.

Originally a shrub with smallish blooms, the flowers of modern hybrids can be anything up to 30 centimetres across. These trumpet-shaped blooms come in both single and double forms and in a range of hues possibly unmatched by any other shrub – white, cream, yellow, salmon pink, scarlet and magenta.

Long established hybrids fare equally well in Phuket, and are frequently deployed as a tall barrier or hedge where their leaves form a dense screen. The flowers are, of course, a massive bonus. One variety, with variegated leaves and smaller red or pink flowers, is particularly effective in this role – both a strong grower and unfussy about soil conditions.

If the conventional hibiscus has a downside, it does require good soil and a reasonably sunny aspect. And since the plant has a branched tap root, it is not entirely happy in a container. Moreover, without good conditions, and unlike its relatives, mutabilis and schizopetalus, it will become prone to fungal mould and white fly infestations.

Laguna Golf Phuket

On the other hand, Hibiscus schizopetalus and sometimes referred to as the coral or Japanese lantern, is in this writer’s experience, completely disease free. Much less widely hybridised, it is a pendulous shrub whose single scarlet or coral flowers hang down at the end of long, graceful, leaf-cladarches. While it does not bloom with the freedom of sinensis, the coral hibiscus will tolerate most conditions and is one of the easiest shrubs to strike from cuttings.

Hibiscus mutabilis is again quite different. As its name implies, its massive double blooms change colour: white in the morning; pink at noon; rose red in the late afternoon sun. An asset to your Phuket garden with its large rose-like flowers, mutabilis or cotton rose, deserves to be better known. It is a vigorous grower, flowers more-or-less continuously and will accept poor soil and semi-shade.

It is difficult to argue against the hibiscus’s place in any list of best-loved shrubs. Most gardeners would vote for Rosa sinensis on the basis of its unparalleled visual display. Few shrubs can match the brilliance or range of its palette of colours. Mutabilis is easier to grow but limited to daily doses of white, pink and red. Schizopetalus is both hardy and delicate in appearance, though not a prolific bloomer.

But as far as this writer is concerned, all three varieties are indispensable. They certainly all feature in my private patch.

 

Patrick has been writing for ten years about gardening in Phuket and allied topics. If you have horticultural or environmental concerns, please contact him at drpaccampbelll@gmail.com. Many of his earlier creative and academic publications can be found at Wordpress: Green Galoshes.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Four dead as pickup truck slams into tour bus heading to Phuket

Excuse or explanation, nevermind the choice of words. The driver should have checked immediately on ...(Read More)


May 4 approved as Coronation Day

Wow, and don't forget the additional/supplementary holidays when the real holidays is on a Satur...(Read More)


Government clamps down on surging illegal Thai migration

Thai's don't need a visa for Korea,as long as they don't stay longer than 90 days.Not mu...(Read More)


Slow loris tout arrested at Karon

So it took Officers from Khao Phra Thaew Conservation Centre, Region 5 Division of Crime Suppression...(Read More)


Slow loris tout arrested at Karon

So, mr Nares is a big liar! Claims not to know he commit a crime, but was arrested last year for the...(Read More)


Phuket Police say investigation into Finnish girl’s death inconclusive

"Girl...woman.."? So is she a child or an adult? 19 yo, yep that's an adult but who k...(Read More)


Government clamps down on surging illegal Thai migration

A good 'plan of action' should be made by the highly decorated thai Immigration top official...(Read More)


Four dead as pickup truck slams into tour bus heading to Phuket

What you say he should get as punishment and what the law proscribes differs. Falling asleep was no...(Read More)


Commerce Ministry warns of extortionate hospital prices

and the stupid new ruling to force expats to have health insurance will just give these crooks the o...(Read More)


Four dead as pickup truck slams into tour bus heading to Phuket

"The 23-year-old driver of a pickup truck... will be charged with reckless driving causing deat...(Read More)