Monday, August 1, 2011

Hardy Hibiscus Offer A Spectacular Summer Display

Deep Crimson "Lord Baltimore" variety
If you want to introduce some intense, incredible color to your garden and landscaping beds, consider Hardy Hibiscus.  Also known as Rose Mallow, their massive blooms make an appearance when many others perennials are fading in mid to late Summer.  Mine began blooming near the middle of July and are going strong as we enter August.  I'm always anxious to see the vibrant, dinnerplate-sized flowers..

I always loved the patio planter varieties which are more tropical in nature, but their need to be taken indoors during cold months wasn't ideal.  These hardy varieties can grow well in zones 5-9.  Just give them plenty of sunlight (6+ hours a day minimum is recommended).  These are planted atop a poor, dry, clay-soil hillside and have been reliably blooming for the past 5 years.  Since I've had such success at my first attempt with these plants, I'm eager to add them to a few more focal spots throughout the property.

They can be a bit strange if you are not used to their habits.  They usually die back to the ground, appearing totally "gone" in the winter and emerge very late in the Spring, (sometimes not until early Summer).  You may even forget about them as I have the first two years or assume they are totally dead, never to return.  Just be patient.  Since they emerge later, they bloom later, giving you a show when other colors have gone.  In better, moister, loamy soil conditions, they can grow quite taller.  Mine typically stay in within a 3'x3' range but 5 or 6 feet can be normal if conditions are suitable.

Their leaves are quite susceptible to Japanese beetles and spider mites however.  Mine always seem to get a beetle attack but the flowers bloom brilliantly nonetheless.  Definitely consider spraying the leaves with an herbicidal soap to combat leaf damage as it is unsightly.  Look for some of the more popular varieties such as Lord Baltimore (shown), Cranberry Crush and Kopper King if you plan on giving them a try.  I doubt you will be disappointed.

Lord Baltimore Hardy Hibiscus

1 comment:

  1. That bottom picture is gorgeous. The flower almost looks like it is made of silk. Your flower photos are beautiful.


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