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Hidden Valley Hibiscus
Growers & Hybridizers of Exotic, Tropical Hibiscus
Volume 12, Issue 6
June 2011

News from Hidden Valley Hibiscus


Hibiscus 'Crystal Pink' ~ A GREAT Bloomer!

Hibiscus 'Pinot Noir' in Page Border



'Bold and Beautiful'


'Electric Orange'


'Cosmic Gold'

Happy Summer to Everyone!

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere, and we hope your hibiscus are coming into their full blooming glory!

Instead of a single seedling of the month, this month we decided to present a few of our new Seedlings all at once. These are unnamed, untested seedlings that may or may not make it all the way to becoming marketable HVH hibiscus. But they are beautiful, and look promising. We couldn't resist showing you a few of them!

For our second article, we turn to a little bit of environmental science - the role plants in general, and hibiscus specifically, can play in helping clean our air and soil. Using plants to clean the environment is called Pytoremediation, a big word but a simple concept. Don't let this science scare you! Read below to see how simple and easy it is to apply!

Happy summer blooming to all!

Charles & Cindy Black



'Hot Southern Nights'


'Lilac Wine'


'Love Story'



 

Seedlings, Seedlings, Seedlings!

Ever wonder where all the new varieties of hibiscus that are introduced in the HVH Online Store come from? They come from our hybridizing program in the form of thousands of seeds that we get by cross pollinating our favorite varieties. We pick the best of these seeds to plant and grow for about one year until they make a first bloom. We call these plants seedlings because they are grown from seeds rather than from cuttings or grafts. Each seedling is genetically different from all other hibiscus ever grown. Once we see the first flower of a seedling plant and watch the growth habit, we cull most of these plants. Sadly, they end up in the compost pile because they are not different enough nor an improvement over existing varieties. Only a very few are selected to evaluate further before we name them and introduce them into the store.

Below are photos of flowers of some of the seedlings that we are currently evaluating. If they perform well and can be propagated readily, they will be named and show up in the Online Store in the next year or two. This is just a small sampling of the seedlings to be evaluated in 2011, but we thought you might find this group as enchanting as we do!


Moonstruck x Vin Extraordinaire


Living Legend x Rainbow Sherbet


Muffin Man x Mountain Air


Stolen Kiss x Acapulco Gold


Crème de Cacao x Black Cherry


Saffron x Dragon's Breath


Saffron x Maui Masterpiece


Midnight Blue x Allure


Moonstruck x Haute Couture


Saffron x AcapulcoGold


Moonstruck x Saffron


Cosmic Gold x Muffin Man

 



 

Phytoremediation

Can Hibiscus Actually Help Clean up the Environment?

One field of environmental science that is particularly fascinating to plant lovers is phytoremediation, or the use of live plants to clean up toxins in our environment. It is not a new field of study. The Greeks and Romans used plants to clean up toxins in the soil, and modern crop rotation is based on this concept. NASA studied phytoremediation in the 1960's in order to clean up the toxins like Agent Orange from the military's biological warfare sites, and since then the science has grown rapidly.

So what does this have to do with us personally or with our hibiscus? More than we may realize! Let's take a look at some of the science.

Houseplants Clean Indoor Air

This is not new information. In the 1970's, NASA found that just 16-18 fairly large houseplants (in 6-20" pots) could keep the air clean in an 1800-square-foot house. We've all heard this information, but we sometimes forget how toxic the modern indoor environment can be. Formaldehyde is an almost omnipresent toxin in the air of the modern home. Carpets, plastics, cigarette smoke, plywood, particle board, counter tops, textiles, paper products, even cosmetics can all give off formaldehyde gas that contaminates the air inside our homes. And formaldehyde is only one of many air contaminants that are commonly found in our homes! Benzene, methylene chloride, perchloroethylene, molds, mildew, carbon monoxide, and even ozone can be found inside our houses, along with many, many more equally strange and scary things. The warmer and more humid your climate, the more of these contaminants are released into the air in your home.



These 7 houseplants clean the air in about 800 square feet of house space.

The good news is that ALL houseplants help clean air. Some have been studied and found to clean a little more or less than others, but any plant you grow inside your home will remove toxins from the air and help keep your home environment safe for you and your family. So whether you live in a cold, snowy place where indoor gardening is a necessity, or a warm place where outdoor living is the norm, it is a good idea to keep 9-10 good sized houseplants inside your house for every 1000 square feet of living space. If you need to bring your hibiscus indoors in the winter, why not consider finding places for them to live as houseplants right in your home environment? While they beautify your home, they can also suck up all the pollutants and help keep you and your family healthier.

Hibiscus Clean Contaminated Soil


Hibiscus Clean up Garden Soil
In 2009, university researchers in Taiwan planted Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, along with 11 other plants, in ground that was contaminated by years of wastewater run-off from nearby chemical plants. Not only did the hibiscus grow in soil filled with heavy metals, but the plants actually pulled the contaminants out of the soil, absorbing them into their roots, and in the process cleaning up the soil.

A 2002 study in Hawaii found that hibiscus cleaned explosive residues out of soil contaminated by military exercises. A 2007 study in Singapore found that hibiscus was one of the top cleaners of the heavy metal cadmium. Around the world, hibiscus is one of many plant species that researchers are studying and using to clean up toxic sites with a wide variety of different types of contaminants.

But does this have anything to do with us? Our soil isn't contaminated! Or is it? How do we know? Many studies have found that most yard and garden soil in our modern world is contaminated with lead and arsenic because of the widespread use of lead paint, gasoline and pesticides throughout the industrial age. Urban areas have the most contaminated soil, but even those of us who live in rural areas generally have had humans living or working on our land for a hundred years or more. Those humans most certainly contaminated our garden soil to at least some extent.

If we assume that most of us have at least some heavy metal contamination in our yards and gardens, planting hibiscus outdoors in any area where they will grow year-round only makes sense. While they give us years of beautiful blooms, they will be sitting there quietly cleaning toxic metals and contaminants out of our garden soil.

We usually think of our beautiful hibiscus as decorations for our house or garden. But it's not just art and beauty that they contribute! Like so many plants in our amazing world, our hibiscus are guardians of both soil and air wherever we allow them to live and do their work.

 

  1. Kim, J.K., Jeong, M.I., Lee, D.W., Song, J.S., Kim, H.D., Yoo, E.H., Jeong, Sun J., Han, S.W.; Kays, S.J.; Lim, Y.W.; and Kim, H.H. "Variation in Formaldehyde Removal Efficiency among Indoor Plant Species." HortScience, 2010, 45:1489-1495.
  2. Lai, HY and Chen, Z.S. "In-situ selection of suitable plants for the phytoremediation of multi-metals contaminated sites in central Taiwan." International Journal of Phytoremediation, 2009, 11: 235-250.
  3. Perea, Frank. "Gardening on Lead- and Arsenic-Contaminated Soils," Washington State University Extension Publishing, 1999, http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/eb1884/eb1884.pdf.
  4. Tan L.P., Lim T.T., and He J. "Mass screening of tropical plants to study their potential as heavy metal phytoremediators." Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology, Kos Island, Greece; 5-7 September 2007, A1400-1407.
  5. Wolverton, B. C., R. C. McDonald and E. A. Watkins, Jr., "Foliage Plants for Removing Indoor Air Pollution from Energy-Efficient Homes", Economic Botany, 1984, 38(2):224-228.