Roselle is one of the edible flowers you should be adding to your backyard tea garden. It is native to East Africa and Southeast Asia, where people grow it for its vibrant red calyxes to make tea or jam.
Roselle is also known as Carcadee in the middle east, where it is widely consumed during the holy month of fasting, Ramadan, for its benefits to the digestive system.
When to grow Roselle in central Texas?
Roselle is a tropical plant, so it is a warm-season plant for regions with mild to harsh winters. For example, in central Texas, it grows from May through the first hard freeze.
Is Roselle a perennial?
Roselle is not a perennial where temperatures reach the freezing point in winter. However, it is a fast grower and very easy to from seed.
Direct sow vs. start indoors
It is best to start your roselle seeds indoors early in the season. The seed takes about two weeks to germinate, and the growth is slow at first.
How to start Roselle seeds?
Start roselle seeds around February to give them plenty of time to grow into a good size for transplanting.
- Fill clean seed starting containers with pre-moistened seed starting soil mix.
- Place one or two seeds in each container twice their size in depth.
- Water thoroughly and place in a well-lit windowsill or under grow-light.
- Keep the soil moist at all times.
- Once the seedling emerges, it is best to water from the bottom to prevent damping-off.
When to plant Roselle seedlings in the ground?
If the seed starting container is cell-size, it is best to pot the seedling to a bigger pot to give them a chance to strengthen. Roselle seedlings need to be planted as soon as all threat of frost is gone.
How to plant Roselle?
Roselle is an easy plant to grow. Choose a spot with full sun and well-draining soil for excellent performance. Make sure to space them no less than three feet apart.
- Make a hole as big as the root ball.
- Place the plant upright, ensuring its base is level with the ground.
- You can add a slow-release dry fertilizer, but that is optional.
- Backfill the hole with soil and firm it up around the base.
- Water immediately.
Roselle’s growth rate will be slow at the beginning of the season. However, as soon as the warm weather settles, it will take off.
Do I need to fertilize the Roselle plant?
No, you do not have to fertilize your roselle plant. This plant is tough and takes drought and poor soil like a champ.
How to water the Roselle plant?
You may use drip irrigation to ensure regular water after planting. Once the plant is established, it will take care of itself.
Growing Roselle in pots
Since Roselle is a shrub, it will need a big pot to grow properly. Choose a container that is no less than five gallons in size. However, you will have to monitor its water intake, as pots dry out fast, and there is no way for the roots to look for water.
How long does it take for Roselle to produce?
Roselle flowers are very similar to okra flowers. The blooming period begins in June, but the main production is later in the season, around August. The flower lasts only a day, leaving the calyx behind. The latter needs about two weeks to plump up.
How to harvest Roselle?
After the flower fade away, the calyx starts getting bigger. It will take about two weeks for it to be ready for harvest. The bright red berry-like fruit should feel moist. The part that is needed is the outer cover or calyx. You will have to peel it off of the pith or the seed ball.
An easy way to separate the calyx from the seed pod is to cut the base using a knife. Then pinch and press on the top to make the pod slide out. Next, use a dehydrator or air dry the Roselle on a rack, then store it in airtight glass containers for later use.
You can use Roselle as a substitute for cranberries and make roselle sauce, jam, or preserves, but it is most commonly used for tea. The young leaves of the roselle plant are a good summer leafy green with a slight bitterness.
How to make roselle tea?
Roselle tea has a tangy, lemony taste and a beautiful deep red color. You can have it hot for a cold winter night or cold for a refreshing summer drink.
In a cup of boiling water, place two to three roselles. Allow steeping for five to ten minutes. The longer you leave it, the stronger the taste. Roselle tea pairs well with raspberry leave tea.
Benefits of roselle tea
Roselle has many benefits, but it is mainly used to help the digestive system as it prevents constipation. It also boosts liver health and maybe helps with weight loss.
According to healthline.com, Roselle is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and other valuable compounds. However, there aren’t enough studies to support the health benefits claims of Roselle on the human body. Nevertheless, this beautiful plant has been used for centuries to alleviate digestive problems. It is also important to mention that any person with a pre-existing condition should take the advice of their physician first.
How to propagate roselle plant?
The best way to propagate Roselle is by saving the seeds and replanting them every season. The good news is that this task is not that hard.
- Remove the calyx to reveal the seed pod.
- Allow the pod to dry completely.
- Once dry, open it up to release small black seeds.
- Store the seeds in an airtight container in a dry place.