Jamaican Sorrel is known to help regulate blood pressure and help those with hypertension. There are plenty of other benefits of this plant that is rich in anti-oxidants.
There are also many places where this is used as a diuretic. Given the many perks, you should even know that this plant is not as challenging to nurture as you might imagine.
Its edible leaves are not the only attractive elements in the plant. You can even find several jellies and jams prepared using the flower base. Are you ready to know how to grow Jamaican Sorrel with a success rate?
- How to Grow Jamaican Sorrel
How to Grow Jamaican Sorrel
1. Climate requirements
Also going by the name Roselle or edible hibiscus and a variety of other names around the world, this plant is native to West Africa. Therefore the plant prefers a warm growing condition. You can find the best ones with the densest flavors in Sudan, the place where the plant has been around for ages.
One of the distinct requirements of this plant would be its preference for a lengthy summer. The exposure to a hot climate for an extended duration plays a critical role in letting the fruit ripen the healthy way.
This is also important for preserving the taste of the fruit. So, if you live in a place with 4 or 5 months of hot to warm weather, then you are in luck as you can easily grow a healthy Jamaican sorrel plant.
You would notice a healthy, dense, bushy growth, which comes as an indication that the plant is receiving its optimal conditions.
The other primary requisite when it comes to the climatic requirements would be the rainfall needs. 72 inches of rain can benefit the plant during the growing season.
2. When to Plant?
Knowing when to start your seeds is one of the crucial learnings in growing a plant. For this warm weather loving plant, you should plant when the soil temperatures reach over 75⁰F.
You should be very particular about the heat of the soil, as this is significant in helping the seeds germinate.
It is one of those plants that you do not have to bother about starting as a seedling and protecting your nursery before transferring to the plant bed. Jamaican Sorrel can grow well even if you sow the seed directly into your garden soil.
It is better to plant the seeds at least 6-8 weeks ahead of the season where the last frost occurs. Summers from March would be warm enough for the plant to germinate and grow.
No matter where you live, the ideal planting season would, therefore, be summer. If you do wish to start a batch during the winter, you can only start it indoor in a controlled environment.
Postpone planting at least till spring so that the young plant would be ready to move to the garden when the weather gets hotter outside.
3. Lighting Requirements
If you pick a spot in your kitchen to grow the plant as seedlings before you take it to the garden, you should still choose the sunniest corner. People living in the hot and arid conditions like Arizona can enjoy optimal weather for planting the Jamaican Sorrel.
Plenty of light and warmth can ensure the healthy growth of the plant. This is a plant that can take one of the most extended periods to grow and mature. For the stage where the plant starts buds and flowering, it takes around 5 months.
4. Planting Jamaican Sorrel as Seeds
Preparing the seed before sowing them is essential. Some observe an excellent germination rate when you slightly tear the seed coat before sowing. Simply loosening the coat by rubbing the seeds can also be helpful.
As mentioned above, these plants are easy to grow. You can directly plant them in your garden bed. However, you should take great precautions to protect the seeds from pests.
Given that this is an edible plant, you might also have the problem of possums digging out and wasting your bed. The young plant itself is prone to be raided by pests. The other concern could be the lack of control on your bed.
To overcome the challenges and to experience a better germination rate, you can always pick a seedling tray. It is one of the most reliable methods if you need a high germination rate with your batch.
5. Ideal Place to Pick A Planting Bed
Any part of your garden where you have enough place for the bush to spread would be right for the Jamaican Sorrel. Give a sunny spot for this sun-loving plant and keep the dense growth in mind when you choose the area.
Be warned that once the plant gets heavy with fruits, you would notice the stems trail on the ground. As they carry long stems, you would need a broad and clear area for planting.
Pick a clearing where there are no plants around the zone where you plant your Jamaican Sorrel. This is an annual, and it continues to give you juicy fruits that you can make jams and other desserts with.
There are plenty of fruits in each stem, and the weight brings the whole stem down on the ground, which might then obstruct the plants nearby. You should also ensure that this spot is not on the pathway. To enjoy clean and healthy fruits which you do not trample, you can also go for a raised bed.
Raised garden beds are known to have numerous benefits, including the ease of creating good drainage. It ensures that the Jamaican Sorrel roots do not rot from stagnant water.
The other significant advantage here is that you would have the stems flowing downward when heavy and not on the ground. It will save your fruits in the long run.
It also a better option if you do not wish for your fruits to rot easily, which they do when the stem lies flat on the ground. Without breaking your back, you can stand and pick the plentiful harvest when you grow it on a raised bed.
If you do not have the means to create one, you can still enjoy healthy plants on the traditional garden bed.
6. Transplanting the Jamaican Sorrel
If you are raising the seeds in a seedling tray, then you should find the right weather and right spot to transplant it. Once you have picked a spot in your garden, as mentioned above, you should also plan about the spacing.
Given the width of the Jamaican sorrel plant, it is ideal to leave a distance of 50 cm between two plants. This would let the healthiest spread of the bush, and you would also be able to pick the harvest without any difficulty.
However, if you do not have enough space, you should plan on leaving at least 20 cm between the plants. This the minimum requirement that many gardeners find to be the best condition to ensure that the branches of the neighboring plants do not stunt the growth of each other.
Can you grow Jamaican sorrel in a container? Yes, you can. Pick a large and deep pot for the best results. It would also help your plants grow a healthy root system.
A 40 cm container should be sufficient for growing two plants. When you work on the number of plants, remember that the fruit comes with a large pit, and so depending on the quantity of fruit you need for the preparation of one batch of jam should be considered accordingly.
There is also the chance of being stuck with a plant that doesn’t produce enough fruits and so you might have to plan on planting more plants for a larger yield.
7. Plan ahead
Some of the plants might start with producing less yield once or twice. The size of the fruit itself could be small, or the problem could be with the number of fruits on one plant.
Sometimes you might only acquire the best yield at the end of the season. Therefore you should plan ahead and wait for the plant to grow through a growth spurt or two before you see consistency in your harvest.
The closing weeks of summers are when most plants produce enough yield. It is also the time when the fruits are the juiciest and best tasting. For most small families planning on the regular harvest of the fruit around 3 or 6 plants would be a good number.
Once the flower appears on the plant, it dies back on its own by noon or early in the evening. The calyx in flower turns into the fruit. This happens when the flower wilts and the calyx increasing in size.
Within another 2 or 3 weeks from the time the flowers appear, your fruits should be ready for harvesting. Wait till you find the fruit to be plump and richly colored before you pick it from the plant.
At the same time, do not leave it beyond 3 weeks. This would be the time when the fruit starts drying out and loses its pulp.
Cut with a clean shear or pluck it at the base without damaging the stem. It would make sure that you leave the stem intact for the next harvest.
9. How Difficult Is the Maintenance?
Some plants are known to be hardy, and this label is used for the ones that are low maintenance. These are plants that do not dry out easily or pose too many vulnerable requirements for keeping the plant healthy.
However, as the Jamaican Sorrel grows in warm and dry conditions, it is also known to be a hardy plant. Make sure that you water it regularly, or you can also use a drip irrigation system for automated watering.
Do not overwater the plant as root rot is one problem that you should worry about. Touch the soil bed and feel if it’s dry. If the bed feels dry up to an inch below the surface, you can water the plant thoroughly. It doesn’t need misting as the plant is predominantly grown outdoor.
10. Fertilization Needs
Regular application of weedicides would be essential when you are growing the Jamaican Sorrel outdoor in your garden bed. This would keep it smooth to harvest the fruits without the weeds obstructing your movement.
Make sure that you are applying organic fertilizers for the improvement of your harvest. Apply natural plant feed in a diluted version on the plant bed. Some even grow it as an ornamental plant.
Regular application of plant feed to restore the soil nutrition would also promote healthy growth. You should plan on applying the solid feed at least after each harvest. This will ensure that the roots get enriched before developing flowers for the next season.
You would also need a pesticide that keeps rodents and pests away from the plant.
From controlling weeds to preventing pests, the necessary measures to protect the plants’ health is all; it takes to maintain the plant in a healthy condition. It would also be enough to obtain steady yield season after season.
There are plenty of desserts that are prepared with this fruit. Some of them are even gourmet dishes and can be expensive. Growing this easy to grow plant in your garden or a container, you can have steady access to fresh fruits throughout the season.
It is one of the plants that anyone new to fruit or vegetable gardening can obtain success with. From the leaves to fruits, there are many edible parts on the plant. The fiber of the plant stem is also used in some places. You can also rotate the plants once in a while if you find the harvest to be dwindling.