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Garden Delights

A selection of thoughts and ramblings about life in the garden.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Best Giant Bloom

And the winner is...

The Hardy Hibiscus

If you are looking for an eye-catching larger than life bloom, I really can't think of any other plant that fits the bill.

We are talking dinner plate sized blooms here.

And in a variety of colors from white to deep red.

This baby is a relative of the Rose of Sharon shrub, and a member of the mallow family. Native to much of America, it is often called Swamp Mallow, but it can survive in a wide variety of conditions.

It can grow to about 5 feet or taller in height, and has nice large heart shaped leaves. Some varieties have leaves more like the Japanese maple. The glossy leaved hibiscus are tropical, and come in more tropical colors of yellow through orange red. Glossy leaved hibiscus are not cold hardy.

The hardy hibiscus is cold tolerant to at least zone 5, and perhaps zone 4 in certain situations. They do die back to the ground in winter, but always come back in late spring. Very late spring. It is a good idea not to cut the dead stalks back until spring so you can remember where they are located.

They are relatively easy to grow from seed, and will often self-sow. Color will not come true from seed. If you plant to grow them from seed, nick the seeds and soak them overnight before planting. It usually takes 2 years for a new plant to bloom. As with most plants, they only improve with age, growing more and more shoots from the original root to form a small shrub-like plant.

This one will give you a taste of the tropics.


At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Sue Mazzone said...

The hibiscus is indeed a plant worthy of an award. Naturepatch brought several of these plants to my backyard in Albuquerque, and they have bloomed in just over two months. The blooms are like something out of another world: huge, colorful, and prolific. Thanks, Naturepatch!


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