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Bunga Raya – the national flower of Malaysia

November 10, 2010

Malaysia’s national flower Bunga Raya is in fact Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Malvaceae). This beautiful garden ornamental is native to southern China, and often depicted in Asian art. Indeed Malaysia is a multi ethnic community, with many citizens of Chinese origin, so I guess the national flower is a symbol of the people rather than the flora.

H. rosa-sinensis is easy to grow from cuttings, simply let them form roots in a pot of soil. Sand is sometimes suggested as the rooting substrate rather than compost. The reason is that the compost may contain pathogenic fungi, but in reality the heat makes drought in sand a much more serious problem for the monsoon home gardener.

Rooting hormones (auxin such as IBA) are often used in the west. The same compounds are formed by the plants, so they are not unnatural, but they add extra costs and steps for a home gardener. In my home country Sweden where the hot summer is so short, such chemicals might be necessary to stimulate roots. We keep some at Dokmai Garden, but we rarely use it. The heat is sufficient all year round, and all you have to do is to add water. If the cuttings do not work for a particular species, you’d better try another technique for vegetative propagation.

You should plant H. rosa-sinensis in full sun, and for intensive blossom periodic pruning will stimulate new shoots on which the flowers form.

Eric Danell

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