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SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, Wednesday, September 1, 1999

SASSY HIBISCUS BLOOMS, by Tara Duggan

PLANT NAME: Hidden Valley hibiscus is a new series of over 200 brilliantly colored hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis) varieties.

TYPE OF PLANT: Evergreen perennial shrub.

DESCRIPTION: The flowers are marked by unusual, vibrant colors, such as the combination of gunmetal gray, orange and white in the `5th Dimension,' pictured above. Blossoms as large as 12 inches and a compact plant size -- making it possible to grow indoors or on a patio -- also differentiate them from the common garden variety. Plants grow from 4 to 8 feet.

MICROCLIMATE: Even with its tropical heritage, this series is well suited for the Bay Area. The plants do best in temperatures of 60 to 90 degrees -- they won't survive a frost. If grown indoors, they need filtered light with at least one hour of sunlight daily.

SPECIAL NEEDS: The plants come in containers from 6 inches all the way to 5 gallons. For repotting, use 1 part sand or perlite mixed with 3 parts high-quality potting soil (organic soil is best). In summer, they like lots of water, but in cooler months, fungus can attack the roots, so be sure their pots drain easily.

BLOOM PERIOD: Spring through early fall.

COMMENTS: ``The common garden variety hibiscus flowers for only one day, but these hibiscuses bloom for two or even three days. The blossoms don't even have to be in water and make a great table decoration,'' says Karen Dardick of Hidden Valley Hibiscus.

AVAILABLE AT: Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, 1310 McGee Ave. (at Hopkins Street), Berkeley, (510) 526-4704; Sloat Garden Center, 2710 Sloat Blvd. (at 46th Avenue), San Francisco, (415) 566-4415; Wegman's Nursery, 492 Woodside Road (between Hess and Hudson Streets), Redwood City, (650) 368-5908.

1999 San Francisco Chronicle Page 3/Z1

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