Hibiscus geranioides

Geranium Leaf Hibiscus

Family: Malvaceae

An erect shrub to 1 metre tall, spreading to 1 metre or more wide.

Its natural distribution is in the dry-tropics, from the north of Western Australia, east of Broome, along the coast and inland to the south of Darwin, up into East Arnhem land and the offshore islands, extending east just into Queensland, contained to the area north of Mt Isa.

It typically grows in tropical savannah shrubland and woodland, in seasonally dry and wet conditions, usually on sandy soil.

Hibiscus spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, the leaves are strongly 3-lobed, to about 7 cm long by 4 cm wide, with strong venation and a soft texture, dull mid-green.

Hibiscus spp. typically produce large solitary flowers. In this species, they are produced above the foliage at the terminals on long skinny pedicels, up to 10 cm in diametre, bright to light pink and very showy.

The fruit is a capsule, about 20 mm long and hairy.

In the garden

A plant that is cultivated and can be grown readily in most gardens. It is reported to tolerate a range of soils provided drainage is good. Sandy soil likely works best. Plant in full sun for best results.

It is reported to be a biennial, so plants may need to be replaced every two years.

Author’s notes:

Hibiscus geranioides is a fairly recent addition to my garden, in the northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh. They are about 80 cm high and not quite as wide.

As they grow naturally in the sub tropical areas north of Broome WA and around the coast to Queensland, they respond very well to summer rainfall. With the regular dry summers Sydney has experienced they flowered well, but I did not appreciate how well they could flower until we had heavy rains in several years making conditions more tropical and similar to their natural location.

The plants need plenty of sun to open up the flower and to look their best. They do self seed, but not enough to be a problem. In my garden, they produce just enough seedlings for me to pot up and give away to friends. They really are a decorative plant and well worth growing in your garden.

Check with local nurseries and online for availability. They are soild online through several outlets.

There is a cultivar called ‘La Belle’ (see references below).


Propagate by seed and cuttings. Any cultivars must be done by cuttings to maintain ‘true-to-type’ forms.

Other information

Hibiscus is a widespread genus of the family Malvaceae, consisting of 250 species, growing in regions ranging from tropical to temperate. Of these species, 35 are native to Australia and are largely restricted to the east coast. NSW currently has 12 species.

This species likely regerates from seed after fire, from the seedbank.

Hibiscus from the Greek Yvískos (Yβίσκος) meaning “Mallow” – a common name for species often used in this genus and broader plant family.

geranioides – Latin – referrring to the genus Geranium – which the leaves of this species resembles.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

Atlas of Living Australia – Hibiscus geranioides profile and records page https://bie.ala.org.au/species/https://id.biodiversity.org.au/node/apni/2901255

Gardening with Angus – Hibiscus geranioides ‘La Belle’ – profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/hibiscus-geranioides-la-belle-native-hibiscus/

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.