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Old March 22, 2019   #1
GoDawgs
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Default Anybody Grow Roselle?

One of this year's garden toys is Roselle, a member of the hibiscus family. One can supposedly make an interesting tea from the dried calyces and the green leaves are used as seasoning in various cultures.

The one I'm growing is 'Thai Red', bought from Southern Seed Exposure. There's a 4-pack of plants under the lights right now since it supposedly takes 6 months to mature.

Has anyone else tried growing this? If so, any tips for optimal growth or things to watch out for?
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Old March 22, 2019   #2
roper2008
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I tried a few plants from seed, but had aphids problems each time. Never did treat it for the aphids, and never tried again. You can make a hot tea or cold tea.
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Old March 22, 2019   #3
PhilaGardener
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Haven't grown it yet, but hear it is a pretty long season plant. Glad you have it already started! Interested in hearing how it does for you!
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Old March 26, 2019   #4
salix
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Have grown it many times in the past (easy enough), but our season is just too short and my indoor facilities non existent to let it mature.
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Old March 26, 2019   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilaGardener View Post
Haven't grown it yet, but hear it is a pretty long season plant. Glad you have it already started! Interested in hearing how it does for you!
These things are quick! They popped up March 9 after three days from seeding and at 17 days from germination they are already 4-5" tall, have three sets of true leaves and are pushing a fourth set. I use 3.5" deep cell packs and the root systems are starting to fill the cells. Time for shifting up already.



Since they are more tropical in nature I guess I'm going to have to hold them indoors until around May 1 when the threat of frost is gone and temps have settled into the warm zone. As fast as they're growing, they'll probably be in a 3 gallon pot by then.

Last edited by GoDawgs; March 26, 2019 at 04:33 PM.
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Old April 6, 2019   #6
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Roselle, hmm. Never heard before. Sounds interesting. I love herbs and grow different things, mostly Mediteranian types. Last October flooding killed all my hrbs. Now starting all over.
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Old April 6, 2019   #7
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Your plants are doing great. I have tried twice, and they look half the size and nowhere near as green as yours. My mid winter indoor growing conditions lead to the perfect environment for spider mites, so that may be what is :bugging: them. I started mine around the holidays, or before.
In my first attempt the mix was too wet and germination was poor, started a second sowing in seed starting mix. Germination was almost overnight and percentage was good but at 4 months they look no where near as green and robust as yours.

They look really pretty once they start blooming. My plan was to grow one in ground and the remainder in a large container to be brought indoors in fall. Do you think you will have time for harvest without bringing inside?

- Lisa
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Old April 6, 2019   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenthumbomaha View Post
Your plants are doing great. I have tried twice, and they look half the size and nowhere near as green as yours. My mid winter indoor growing conditions lead to the perfect environment for spider mites, so that may be what is :bugging: them. I started mine around the holidays, or before.
In my first attempt the mix was too wet and germination was poor, started a second sowing in seed starting mix. Germination was almost overnight and percentage was good but at 4 months they look no where near as green and robust as yours.

They look really pretty once they start blooming. My plan was to grow one in ground and the remainder in a large container to be brought indoors in fall. Do you think you will have time for harvest without bringing inside?

- Lisa
Thanks! They get some Miracle Grow in their watering when I think about it and I try to water only when the pot starts feeling a little light. And they've been under the lights their whole life so far. Today they're now 5.5" tall and starting to push new foliage at the leaf axils:



From one article ( https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/roselle.html

"If intended solely for the production of calyces, the ideal planting time in southern Florida is mid-May. Blooming will occur in September and October and calyces will be ready to harvest in November and December. Harvesting causes latent buds to develop and extends the flowering life of the plant to late February. When the fruit is not gathered but left to mature, the plants will die in January."

Here in east central Georgia (Augusta area) I'm going to try to plant three in the ground and one in a big pot in late April or the beginning of May if the weather cooperates and bring the potted one indoors probably around mid October. I think I'll be able to harvest some. I'm going to try the foliage too. Here's another and less wonky article:

https://www.motherearthnews.com/orga...cus-zw0z11zsto
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Old June 23, 2019   #9
Ken B
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Depending on where you're at in Georgia, if you grow roselle again, we've added another roselle variety that might do even better for you -- http://www.southernexposure.com/rose...-g-p-2190.html -- it's a Caribbean variety that folks in north Florida gave us seed for, they say it's the best one for them there. (We're trialing it in Virginia this summer to see how it compares to Thai Red Roselle here -- I'm guessing that it'll be daylength-sensitive, and that it'll mature later than Thai Red Roselle here... we'll see!)
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Old June 23, 2019   #10
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Please keep us posted Ken B. obviously my season isn't long enough for an outdoor grow, but I have a sunroom and plenty of lighting available at that time of year. Anxious to hear of your and GoDawgs results.


- Lisa
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Old June 23, 2019   #11
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Default Progress Report

Those four little Thai Red Roselles were planted out May 11. Three went into the ground and one went into a 15 gallon nursery container with a nursery mix (bark, compost, etc). These are the ones in the ground, about 3' tall now:





Here's the one in the container:



The ones in the ground are much more dense and full then the container plant. Maybe it's because the container plant gets a weekly dose of Miracle Grow and the others have just had one or two tastes of it since plant out. Not being coddled has made the three more "self sufficient", I think.

Ken, I'm thinking about pruning the container plant back to make it bush out. Any thoughts? And thanks for the heads up about that Caribbean variety next year. I will try it along with the Thai Red again. SESE is where I got the Thai Red from.
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Old June 23, 2019   #12
Ken B
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Hm, I'll guess too much nitrogen from the MiracleGro? The container plant looks a lot more stretched out than I'm used to roselle being!

We've never had roselle get big enough here to consider pruning it (5-6' tall is usually as tall as it gets here before Oct. frost), but I know folks will prune back okra plants to keep them shorter, and they're both in the same family, so, worth a try?

The plants look nice! Do you already have calyxes?
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Old June 24, 2019   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken B View Post
Hm, I'll guess too much nitrogen from the MiracleGro? The container plant looks a lot more stretched out than I'm used to roselle being!
I'd guess that too. However I just got done moseying around the internet for an hour trying to find the right time to pick the calyxes and other handy info and saw a photo that looks like the container plant and others that look like the ones in the ground. Go figure.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken B View Post
We've never had roselle get big enough here to consider pruning it (5-6' tall is usually as tall as it gets here before Oct. frost), but I know folks will prune back okra plants to keep them shorter, and they're both in the same family, so, worth a try?
I think I will cut back the container plant, probably down to where it bushes out. What I've read is that they are day length dependent and start producing "fruit" as the days shorten but mine are already making nice calyxes. Also two harvests per season.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken B View Post
The plants look nice! Do you already have calyxes?
Thanks! Not bad for a first try. Yes, I have calyxes, about 15 on the container plant and some on the others. Nice fat ones. And the whips on the container plant are setting buds about every 2"! So with that in mind, maybe I won't prune. Just let both types of plants do their own thing this first year to see the full cycle and then putter with them next time.



Seems like the thinking is to snip them off an average three weeks after the bloom drops while they are still fat and juicy. I've also copied off some jam and juice recipes.

This is probably the most all-around informative link I found on Roselle. From a guy in Brisbane, Australia.


https://gardendrum.com/2016/07/12/ja...using-rosella/

Last edited by GoDawgs; June 24, 2019 at 09:53 PM.
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Old June 24, 2019   #14
greenthumbomaha
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Good article. I wonder why he said the shorter varieties are best for commercial. How would I ever pick from a 6 foot plant? Might work better for me as a container plant.

- Lisa
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #15
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Default Roselle Update

The Roselle in the container is just going bonkers. Calyxes everywhere along all branches. The plant is now about 4' tall. I had been thinking about cutting the container plant back to induce branching but it was producing so well I decided not to.



The three others which are planted in the ground are slowly getting more bushy but not adding much height. The only calyxes on each one are just a few inside the plant near the central leader. Here are two of the three:



The container plant is growing in a rather loose nursery mix, gets watered every day and receives 1/2 gallon of Miracle Grow once a week.

The ones in the ground have been pretty much left to themselves. They have been watered a few times when rain has become scarce but they've never looked thirsty. The only fertilizer they've gotten is maybe two treatments of 1/2 gallon Miracle Grow each about four weeks apart.

KenB, I've read that the calyxes should be harvested when about 3 weeks old while they are still plump. I've noticed that the calyxes are tight at the top and at some point the top starts to open just a little. Would you know whether the barely open-topped calyxes or the tight topped ones are prime picking for fresh made tea or best left to dry?
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