The Bunga Raya is the national flower of
Malaysia, perhaps as a symbol of the multi-ethnic culture there.
(Photo by [email protected])
Malaysia’s national flower Bunga Raya is in fact Hibiscus
rosa-sinensis (Malvaceae). This beautiful garden ornamental is native to
southern China, and often depicted in Asian art. Indeed Malaysia is a
multi-ethnic community, with many citizens of Chinese origin, so I guess the
national flower is a symbol of the people rather than the flora.
H. rosa-sinensis is easy to grow from cuttings, simply let them form roots
in a pot of soil. Sand is sometimes suggested as the rooting substrate
rather than compost. The reason is that the compost may contain pathogenic
fungi, but in reality the heat makes drought in sand a much more serious
problem for the monsoon home gardener.
Rooting hormones (auxin such as IBA) are often used in the west. The same
compounds are formed by the plants, so they are not unnatural, but they add
extra costs and steps for a home gardener. In my home country Sweden where
the hot summer is so short, such chemicals might be necessary to stimulate
roots. We keep some at Dokmai Garden, but we rarely use it. The heat is
sufficient all year round, and all you have to do is to add water. If the
cuttings do not work for a particular species, you’d better try another
technique for vegetative propagation.
You should plant H. rosa-sinensis in full sun, and for intensive blossom
periodic pruning will stimulate new shoots on which the flowers form.