This section is from the book "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis. Also available from Amazon: The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Volume I.
Hibiscus Syriacus. Syrian Hibiscus; commonly called Althaea Frutex.
Calyx duplex, exterior polyphyllus. Capsula 5-locularis, polysperma.
HIBISCUS syriacus foliis cuneiformi ovatis superne incise-serratis, caule arboreo. Lin. Syst. Veg. p. 630.
ALCEA arborescens syriaca. Bauh. Pin. p. 316.
ALTHaeA frutex flore albo vel purpureo. Park. Par. p. 369.
The Hibiscus syriacus, known generally by the name of Althaea frutex, is a native of Syria, and forms one of the chief ornaments of our gardens in autumn; we view it, however, with less delight, as it is a sure indication of approaching winter.
There are many varieties of it mentioned by authors, as the purple, red-flowered, white-flowered, variegated red and white flowered, and the striped-flowered, to which may be added, another variety, lately introduced, with double flowers: it varies also in its foliage, which is sometimes marked with white, sometimes with yellow.
As from the lateness of its flowering, and the want of sufficient warmth, it rarely ripens its seeds with us; the usual mode of increasing it is by layers, and sometimes by cuttings; but the best plants are raised from seeds. Miller observes, that the scarce varieties may be propagated by grafting them on each other, which is the common method of propagating the sorts with striped leaves.
In the time of Parkinson it was not looked on as a hardy shrub: he thus writes, - "they are somewhat tender, and would not be suffered to be uncovered in the winter time, or yet abroad in the garden, but kept in a large pot or tubbe, in the house or in a warme cellar, if you would have them to thrive." Park. Parad.