The humble rosella

11 February 2016
If you're in a warm climate, rosellas are a very useful and unusual plant to grow in the backyard. They're a wild hibiscus, grown in many places including Australia, particularly in the north, Africa, south east Asia, West Indies, Mexico and the US, I'm note sure about the European countries.  Let me know in the comments if you're growing it. 

We haven't grown rosellas for a couple of years but there was a time when they were regulars in our garden and I made jam and drinks with them every year.  It's an easy plant to grow if you have the right climate for it so that's why it's back in our garden; we want to grow simple plants that are useful in the kitchen. It takes about six months of frost-free warm weather to grow them to maturity. The red sepals, seeds and green leaves are all edible. Red Zinger tea contains rosellas, it's what gives that tea its red colouring. There are several health claims made for rosellas but I'll leave that for you to research because I don't know which claims are true.

This bowl is our first harvest this year.  When the plants are still quite small, they flower and then set fruit. You harvest that small early crop, tip prune the plant at the same time and let them set about producing a bigger crop for late summer, early autumn.  So that means that for this year, it's too late to plant these in Australia.  The red sepals from this small crop can be dried and used to make tea but I've frozen this lot and they will be added to the main crop later in the year.

The fruit is ready to pick when it's bright red and plump. When we harvest our main crop later in the year, I'll take photos and do another post on how to process them and what to make with them.

The rosellas above are damaged and will be dried out and used for seeds.  You can see from the little rosella (above) sprouting from its capsule that they're good growers, but all depends on temperate and climate.

These are some of the seeds I've collected from the rosellas above. There aren't many but I'll take some on my book tour so if you want to try growing it, ask me if I have any left. Otherwise you can buy them here and here.

Rosella is one of those crops that fits in well in a simple kitchen. It's easy to grow from seed from your previous crop, and it has multi-purposes in the kitchen. And if you're a gardener in an area that has hot summers, it will soon become one of your go-to plants for jam and drinks.

Here are recipes for rosella jam, tea and cordial from Frances at Green Harvest. Do you have any rosella recipes to share?