I grew up in New Zealand so Rosella bushes are not something I have any experience with. I became acquainted with the lovely thing that is Rosella jam at my mother in laws, so when I spied a packet of seeds at my local hardware store last year I decided to have a go at growing Rosella's.
I had no idea what to expect from a Rosella plant other that the brief description on the back of the seed packet. So I planted 5 seeds out at the back of the pumpkin patch and waited to see what would happen. Well low and behold they grew, and grew well. Some branches eventually reaching a height of up to 1.8m and are laden with fruit. Not bad for the out lay of 1 packet of seeds of which I only used 5.
|Rosella Bushes at the back of the Pumpkin Patch|
Rosella's are a type of Hibiscus (Hibiscus Sabdariffa) and if you have ever seen something like herbal tea labeled as including Wild Hibiscus then what it actually contains is Rosella.
Rosella's like to be grown in the Subtropics to tropics in areas with high rainfall. After the wet start to the year we have had here in South East Queensland this is probably why mine have done so well.
The 5 fleshy outside petal like part of the fruit called a calyx is used for making jams, preserves and cordials amongst other things but is not eaten as a fruit due to the sharp taste. I have sampled raw Rosella's and I liken it to the same sort of taste you get from Rhubarb, another plant you only eat cooked.
Rosella's produce a bud that looks similar to the fruit, it produces a lovely Hibiscus type flower which is then followed by the fruit.
I have grown them apparently quite successfully, I have found recipes on how to use them, yum yum can't wait.
But do you think I can find anywhere that tells me when and how to harvest them. No.
So I trawl the net hoping for an answer, nope more recipes and growing techniques.
I hunt through old gardening and cook books hoping for the answer still nothing.
So I call my mother in law hoping she may have grown them or know someone who does. Nope she has never grown them either.
But then she comes up with the goods.
In one of her garden books "The Australian Gardening Encyclopedia" the answer is found.
"The heads can be harvested about 3 weeks after flowering. Once harvesting has begun collect the heads every week so that the fruit is not fully mature and woody."
Hooray the Great Rosella Harvest can begin.
So out to the garden I go, kitchen scissors in had and begin to harvest the Rosella's I guess to be about 3 weeks after flowering. This really is a guess but when I peel the Calyx's (beware they stain you fingers and although it came off I had only peeled 1/2 a doz) I know I am correct in my timing. Before finding the information about harvesting 3 weeks after flowering the only information I could find was to pick while the seed pod was still green.
|These are some of the Rosella's before and after peeling|
|Let the peeling begin|
This should work out well for me as in a few weeks it is the local country show and there is a pavilion category for Rosella's which I just might enter.
But for now it is back to peeling Rosella's.