hibiscusThe very large flowers of this plant make it a showstopper! The saucer shaped flowers are up to 10” across and are composed of 5 petals in shades of white to deep crimson. The prominent pistil and stamens are elongated and add to the flower’s tropical look. The plants stand tall and have pale green maple-shaped leaves up to 8 inches wide. It can be used effectively at the edge or a pond, in the back of the border, as a specimen plant, or as a hedge. It blooms from July to October and red cultivars attract hummingbirds.

Type: Herbaceous perennial.

Bloom: Flowers are up to 10” across, are white, pink, and deep crimson; blooms from July to October if deadheaded.

Size: 4-6’ H x 4-5’ W.

Light: Full sun or partial shade; at least 4 hours of sun.

Soil: Rich, moist; swamp conditions suit this plant but it becomes drought tolerant and do well in a border. Water during times of drought.

Fertilizer: Fertilize with a water soluble fertilizer when flowering begins.

Hardiness: Zones 5-9.

Care: Spent petals drop cleanly but leave developing seeds behind so deadhead seed pods to prolong bloom. In zones 7 and colder mulch with pine boughs or salt marsh hay in the fall and cut the plant to the ground in spring. In warmer zones, plants may be cut down in the fall.

Pests and Diseases: Japanese beetles and weevils can disfigure the leaves. Either pick them off by hand or use an insecticide.

Propagation: Divided woody clumps in spring. Seeds of hybrids will not come true.

Companion plants: Boltonia (Boltonia asteroids), Joe Pyeweed (Eupatorium purpureum), White culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’), beebalm (Monarda didyma ‘Marshall’s Delight).

Outstanding Selections: ‘Lord Baltimore’ crimson; ‘Lady Baltimore’ pink with red center; ‘Southern Belle’ assorted colors, white, pink, rose, 4’ tall. “Dixie Belle’ assorted colors, 1½-2” tall.

Comment: Hibiscus is late to emerge in spring so mark their location in the fall. The flowers will wilt in an hour in a vase so enjoy them on the bushes.

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By Karen