Hibiscus sabdariffa var sabdariffa:
"Vernacular names, in addition to roselle, in English-speaking regions are rozelle, sorrel, red sorrel, Jamaica sorrel, Indian sorrel, Guinea sorrel, sour-sour, Queensland jelly plant, jelly okra, lemon bush, and Florida cranberry" (this, from Julia Morton’s plant monograph, available through the Purdue University New Crops web site). Seed companies in the United States have also taken to labeling this plant as "Thai Red Roselle." In grocery stores Hibiscus sabdariffa is erroneously marketed as "Hibiscus flowers"; while the pink flowers are gorgeous in their own right, it's actually the fleshy red calyces that are dried for tea and used as food.
When growing this plant, climate is definitely a consideration. Hibiscus sabdariffa is considered a subtropical/tropical plant, so it needs heat to bear usable herbage, but most especially to come to term for seed. Most gardeners in the continental United States will have some success growing the plant as an annual, although it can perennialize in warmer areas. Timing is especially vital for cooler climates. Richo Cech at Horizon Herbs grows the plant up in Southern Oregon (zone 6) and recommends starting seedlings early in a greenhouse and transplanting immediately after last frost. Here in Ojai (Zone 8B), we started seedlings in April, transplanted them by May, and got a seed and herb crop in mid-November.
Seeds must be scarified (we gently brush them with a 150-grit sandpaper) prior to planting. We've found that amending the soil with copious amounts of potassium (most especially in soils where it is lacking) increases the vigor of the plants tremendously. The Julia Morton monograph referenced above has some anecdotal fertility guidance, suggesting applications of a 4-6-7 NPK.
This plant has an otherworldly appearance and is a real joy to grow. It goes without saying that the homegrown calyces are far superior to anything that can be found in the marketplace, but these seem especially more floral and fruity. Makes a great addition to lemonade or a bioregional substitute for cranberries.
110 days from seed to calyx production. Annual.
Packet: 1 gram, ~25 seeds
Grown at Mano Farm in Ojai, California
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We ship all international orders via USPS First Class. We do not ship orders internationally with phytosanitary certificates. As the buyer, you are responsible for performing all due diligence and ensuring the products you order are capable of being received in your country. We are not financially liable for orders seized by customs.
We are our own customers: farmer/gardeners who face the numerous challenges of growing quality, productive crops within ecological agriculture settings. We founded All Good Things Organic Seeds to offer quality vegetable, herb, and flower seeds adapted to organic growing conditions. The seed varieties we offer in our catalog are sourced directly from our farm in Ojai, California and other farms that reflect our agriculture ethic:
-We exclusively offer certified organic, untreated non-GMO varieties in our catalog. We are certified organic by Oregon Tilth.
-We do on-farm grow-outs and trials of every variety we sell, listing only those that display vigor, productivity, disease resistance and variety-specific uniformity.
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-We perform germination tests on all seed lots every eight months to insure our customers are delivered viable, high-quality seeds.
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We are also advocates of the Safe Seed Pledge, innovated by High Mowing Organic Seeds in 1999:
Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms poses great biological risks, as well as economic, political and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.