An Old World plant, used for teas, beverages, jellies and more. Once a common home garden crop referred to as Roselle. Leaves, seeds, fruits and roots are edible and can be used medicinally, store frozen or dried. The leaves can be used cooked or raw, all parts have a sorrel/rhubarb like flavor. The calyx is the most widely used part of the plant. Its cup like structure is used for flavoring and imparts a natural cranberry colored dye, harvest before they turn brown. Separate the seeds from the calyx, roast and brew them for a coffee substitute. As a tropical plant it needs full sun, well-drained fertile soil and ample water. Grows 4-6 feet.
Germination: 7-14 days
Germination Temperature: Optimum soil temperatures 75-85ºF.
Seed Sowing Depth: 1/4” deep, soaking seeds overnight aids germination
Starting Indoors: 4-8 weeks before last frost. Provide 75-85ºF soil temperatures. Sow 1-2 seeds per cell/pot. Thin to the strongest seedling. Fertilize the seedlings every 7-10 days with a liquid or water soluble fertilizer, diluted to ¼ of suggested measurement. Transplant after last frost, 24-36" apart in rows 36" apart.
Sowing Outdoors: Only in areas with a long growing season. After last frost when soil temperature reaches at least 70ºF.
Harvest: Calyces- before they turn brown when they are tender and plump, approximately 10 days after flowering. Pull calyx away from the seeds. Store frozen or dried. They stay fresh for about a week after harvest. Leaves- when there are enough to harvest.
Tips: Plant into fertile, well drained soil. Keep calyces picked to encourage more flowers. For a bushy habit prune back the tips of plants early in the season