Hardy hibiscus, hibiscus moscheutos, are wonderful plants for people who like to have colorful blooms but don’t have time to do much gardening. After they are established, they come back year after year, and as long as they are provided some moisture, they bloom most of the summer.


Hardy hibiscus, hibiscus moscheutos, are wonderful plants for people who like to have colorful blooms but don’t have time to do much gardening. After they are established, they come back year after year, and as long as they are provided some moisture, they bloom most of the summer. They perform best in full sun in rich soil but will tolerate some shade and poorer soil. I have seen some traffic-stopping specimens in our neighborhood.
The plants may be started from seed early in the spring, from cuttings taken during the growing season, or purchased at the garden center in pots. They probably won’t be available again in garden centers until after Labor Day. It would be difficult to keep a new plant going during this hot, dry weather.
Cuttings can be rooted by wetting the cut end and dipping it in rooting powder, then placing it into a flower pot with loose soil, such as sand and potting soil or vermiculite. The pot should be in bright light but not in direct sun. Keep the soil moist. Leaves should begin to form in a few weeks and you can plant it where you want it to grow. It would be a good idea to mulch it well the first winter and mark where you planted it.
Hibiscus blooms last only one day, but there are so many buds that new blooms show up each morning. The old blooms fold up and drop to the ground.
When winter comes, the plant dies back and the stalks can be cut off. It is a good idea to leave a few standing about 6 or 8 inches so that you can remember where the plant is. An alternative would be to place a stake with a label in the spot. One reason for doing this is that usually the new growth doesn’t appear until late May. By that time you may have forgotten where the plant is and put something on top of it.
If you purchased a plant this spring and don’t know if it is hardy or tropical, it is probably tropical if the leaves are shiny. Hardy plant leaves have a matte look. We have several tropical hibiscus plants that we cut back and move into the garage under a florescent light during the winter. Some are several years old. So far we have had good luck.
The Confederate Rose is in the same family as hibiscus and is a perennial in our area. In southern states where winters are milder it is a shrub or small tree. Blooms come later than on the hardy hibiscus and are white or light pink. They turn deep red by evening and last only one day.
If you plant a hardy hibiscus this fall or next spring, you can have a colorful addition to your garden next summer.