Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hardy Hibiscus is a Show Stopper

Do you grow Hardy Hibiscus in your gardens? I first noticed this plant when I was visiting Niagara on the Lake one summer. Some of them were the size of dinner plates. When I came home I looked in the nurseries to see if I could grow one in my area.

It is hard not to notice these beautiful plants at this time of the year. The Hardy Hibiscus never fails to catch my eye as I travel through the neighbourhood. The size of the bloom is the diameter of 6-8inches or 18-24cm across. The Hardy Hibiscus is a native of North America. They are in the family of Malvaceae which is the same as another favourite of mine the Hollyhock and the Malva. Hibiscus is a relative of the Rose of Sharon shrub which is also blooming at this time of the year, but, with much larger bloom.

The hardy Hibiscus is an easy to grow herbaceous perennial that will grow in most soils from normal to sandy to clay and in neutral, alkaline or acidic soil. Recommended to a Zone 4 but if protected will survive a possible Zone 3. It tolerates light shade but grows best in full sun. Protection is needed from wind or they will suffer windburn. Mine is a "Luna blush" variety and faces north-east on the property. The plant needs good circulation and room to grow in order to provide good growth and resistance to disease. The Hardy Hibiscus grows 2-8ft tall or 60cm to 2.5 m tall. The flowers could number in the hundreds but last only a day or two. Keep them deadheaded to produce more bloom. The flowers themselves resemble crepe paper and come in an array from white to pink, mauve and yellow, many with coloured eyes and shading. Butterflies and Hummingbirds are attracted to these plants.

The Hardy Hibiscus is a late bloomer. The dead looking stems needed to be cut back in the spring. You will think it is dead but in June you will notice the green growth coming up. It grows quickly on new growth in my zone. I have never noticed any disease or insect problems with the plant. Hardy Hibiscus can be used as a hedge or a specimen in the border. One thing is for sure it is a show stopper. You can't miss them.

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