Plant of the Week: Hibiscus

I'm not advocating becoming a peeping Tom, but on winter nights it's sometimes impossible not to look through people's windows.

They should draw the curtains before they switch on the lights, but many don't. The result is what can often be a very educational experience for those walking past. Not only do you get to see the furnishings, but also the plants.

There's a fair chance of spying in-your-eye poinsettias, delicate cyclamen even bouquets of carnations and lilies – and you may strike it lucky and spot an hibiscus.

Some still refer to this delicate beauty as the China Rose and it's becoming more popular as people realise their homes provide ideal conditions for the plant to thrive.

This means plenty of light (but not direct sun), a temperature of 55deg or thereabouts, and a spot devoid of chilly draughts.

Yet given all this, it's still surprisingly easy to kill an hibiscus – keep the compost too dry and the flower buds will fall, if the air is similarly too dry, the leaves will curl; but get it just right and the China Rose will thrive.

YP MAG 1/1/11