Bred from native wetland plants, hardy hibiscus have come a long way from their swampy beginnings. Hybridizers, most notably the Fleming brothers from Nebraska, have greatly improved the species. Huge plate-size flowers in shades of pink, red, purple and white burst forth from stout plants in early August. As with all mallows, the individual flowers only last a day, but the succession of flowers lasts up to eight weeks.
It’s not uncommon for first-time growers to think their hibiscus has died from winterkill. The stems are not true wood and die to the ground every winter, and they are also one of the last plants to sprout in the spring. They are quite hardy, however, and grow quickly into 3- to 6-foot bushes.
Common Name: Hibiscus, rose mallow
Botanical Name: Hibiscus moscheutos cultivars
Varieties/Cultivars to Look For: ‘Kopper King’, ‘Plum Crazy’, ‘Lord Baltimore’, ‘Fantasia’ and ‘Turn of the Century’
Color: White, shades of pink, red and purple
Blooming Period: August and September
Size: 36 to 60 inches
Exposure: Full sun to part sun
How to Plant: 36 inches apart
Soil: Soil amended with organic matter. A slightly acid pH is best.
Watering: Keep moist when first planted. Mature plants tolerate wet or dry.
When to Prune: Cut off stems after dieback in fall
When to Fertilize: Spring and occasionally through the summer
In Your Landscape: Grow in beds in groups or as specimens
(From Ohio Gardener Volume I Issue IV. Photography By Chris Baker)