- Top 10 Proven Winners Hibiscus
- Tropical Hibiscus
- Hardy Hibiscus
- Zone 6 Hibiscus Plants – Growing Hibiscus In Zone 6 Gardens
- Perennial Hibiscus Plants
- Hibiscus Varieties for Zone 6
- What Kind of Hibiscus are These?
- Exotic, Tropical, Fancy, Hardy, Hybrid, Species,Perennial, or Garden Variety?
- Colorful Combinations
- Hibiscus Care Must-Knows
- New Innovations
- More Varieties of Hibiscus
- Plant Hibiscus With:
Top 10 Proven Winners Hibiscus
Perennial Hibiscus, commonly known as Rose Mallow
Perennial hibiscus are hardy perennials in zones 4-9. Their large stature and dinner plate sized blossoms make them the talk of the neighborhood from midsummer to early fall as they flaunt their tropical looking blossoms. Hummingbirds and pollinating bees are attracted to the colorful flowers, but deer typically pass them by.
Top Recommended Perennial Hibiscus
|Prolific bloomer; lavender pink flowers||Stunning scarlet flowers on a compact plant||White flowers pop against dark foliage|
Growing Tips for Perennial Hibiscus:
- Grow perennial hibiscus in full sun to light shade.
- Never let them dry out—consistent moisture is critical.
- Apply an extended release fertilizer once in late spring when new growth emerges.
- This plant comes up later than most perennials. Don’t fret! It will return reliably every year.
- Leave the woody stems standing until spring, then cut them down to 6” tall.
- New growth will emerge from below ground, not on last year’s stems.
Shrub Hibiscus, commonly known as Rose of Sharon
Shrub forms of hibiscus are bushy, woody plants that are cold hardy in zones 5-9. Many varieties grow quite large, reaching heights of up to 12 feet, but more dwarf cultivars are available. Their taller-than-wide shape makes them ideal for use along a fence line, as a screen, or as a focal point near the entryway of your home. 2-3” wide, single or double flowers are produced abundantly in summer. Butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy their nectar, but deer typically pass them by.
Top Recommended Rose of Sharon
|The only seedless blue rose of Sharon||Outstanding color and elegant form||Unique narrow, columnar habit|
| Sugar Tip®
Seedless, double pink flowers; variegated
Very large, double white flowers
The original dwarf rose of Sharon
Tropical-looking, dark pink flowers; hardy
Growing Tips for Rose of Sharon:
- Grow shrub forms of hibiscus in full sun.
- When planting in fall, keep them watered consistently through late fall so they are well-hydrated going into winter.
- Once established, rose of Sharon requires average amounts of moisture.
- If you wish to prune the plant to shape it, do so in early spring.
- Apply an extended release fertilizer once in late spring when new growth emerges.
- If reseeding is an issue in your climate, choose varieties with low to no seed set such as Sugar Tip®, the Chiffon® series or Satin® series.
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There are over 200 different species of hibiscus plants in the world, and each variety differs in size, shape, and color. When someone refers to a hibiscus plant, it is hard to differentiate between the different types of Hibiscus flowers, but luckily, many of the species of hibiscus can be separated into two categories: tropical hibiscus and hardy hibiscus. Let’s discuss each variety of hibiscus and explore a few of the more popular species in each category.
Tropical hibiscus is a variation that is not able to withstand cold temperatures or climates that are below a tropical level. They produce blooms that are bright in color; with red orange, yellow, pink, and white blooms being the most common. Tropical hibiscus also has deep green foliage that is glossy to protect it from the intense heat of the tropics. These tropical plants can grow in cooler regions of the world, but if they are not indoors in a greenhouse atmosphere, you can start treating this plant as an annual because it will die when the weather turns cold. Let’s explore a few beautiful tropical hibiscus plant variations.
Simple Pleasures – This is a traditional variation that has nine to ten inch blooms. The flower is bright red in the center and as you get closer to the tip of the petal, it will turn pink in coloration and the ends will be a vibrant yellow. The stigma in the middle of the petals is bright yellow, just like the outer edge of the petals.
Image Source: Hidden Valley Nature Arts
Palm Springs – This variety of tropical hibiscus has extremely vibrant blooms. They typically produce blooms that are six to eight inches in diameter. The center of the bloom is a bright orange coloration that looks almost star-shaped from the distance, and the outer edges of the petals are a vibrant shade of deep yellow.
Image Source: Hidden Valley Nature Arts
Bedazzled – This tropical variation is actually a double hibiscus, so it has a ruffled pettiskirt look that is simply breathtaking. The six to eight inch diameter blooms have an amazing deep orange coloration that stands out amongst the dark green foliage of the plant.
Aphrodite – This tropical hibiscus plants has become a symbol for love. Named after a Greek goddess, this fuchsia colored bloom is a vibrant seven to nine inch flower. The edges of the petals include a soft orange rim that makes the plant a rare, yet beautiful specimen.
Hardy hibiscus plants are able to live throughout the winter. Typically, the plant is pruned down before winter begins and the new growth will form from the existing root system. When the plants are pruned, they should be cut back to roughly six inches above the ground. The blooms of these hibiscus flowers are still red, pink, and white, but the coloration is a bit less vibrant. This muted color effect also makes the leaves a paler green than the tropical variation. What are some hardy hibiscus varieties?
Lord Baltimore – This hardy hibiscus plant features bright red blooms that are ten inches in diameter. The petals are quite large and they slightly overlap with one another. The ruffled edge and bright coloration make this a bloom worth seeing, even though each flower will only be in bloom for a single day.
Blue River II – This variation is a hibiscus that features pure white blooms that grow to be six to ten inches across. The white flowers almost make your garden glow at night, and even though the blooming period season for this hibiscus is not very long, over 240 blooms will appear throughout the spring and summer for you to enjoy.
Kopper King – This variety is a plant that has a 12inch wide bloom. The flower is bright pink in the center, and as you move closer to the outer edges of the petal, you will notice the pink coloration becoming lighter until it is nearly white. The leaves on this variation are unique as well; in fact, they resemble a red and green maple leaf.
Scarlet Rose Mallow – This variation features a set of three to seven gorgeous red petals that are placed in a pinwheel-shaped fashion. The flowers are six to eight inches across and they will only be in bloom for about a day before they begin to wilt.
As you can see, each species of hibiscus is different from the next. Some are small with purple ruffled blooms while others have blooms that are massive with three different colorations in a single petal. With this much variation, it is possible to have an area in your garden that is dedicated to hibiscus plants. Not a single plant will be the same, and the hibiscus blooms will be simply amazing.
Zone 6 Hibiscus Plants – Growing Hibiscus In Zone 6 Gardens
When you think about hibiscus, you probably think about tropical climates. And it’s true – many hibiscus varieties are native to the tropics and can only survive in high humidity and heat. But there are also plenty of types of hardy hibiscus varieties that will easily survive a zone 6 winter and come back year after year. Keep reading to learn more about growing hibiscus in zone 6.
Perennial Hibiscus Plants
Growing hibiscus in zone 6 is very easy, as long as you choose a hardy variety. Hardy hibiscus plants are usually hardy down to zone 4. Their sizes vary depending on their species, but as a rule, they’re bigger than their tropical cousins, sometimes reaching heights of 15 feet and widths of 8 feet.
Their flowers, too, are much larger than those of tropical varieties. The largest can reach a foot in diameter. They tend to come in shades of white, pink and red, though they can be found in other colors.
Zone 6 hibiscus plants like full sun and moist, rich soil. The plants are deciduous and should be pruned back in the fall. After the first frost, cut the plant back to a foot high and pile a thick layer of mulch over it. Once there’s snow on the ground, heap it on top of the mulch.
If your plant isn’t showing signs of life in the spring, don’t give up hope. Hardy hibiscus is slow to come back in the spring and may not sprout new growth until the soil reaches 70 F. (21 C.).
Hibiscus Varieties for Zone 6
Perennial hibiscus plants that thrive in zone 6 include a wide variety of species and cultivars. Here are a few especially popular ones:
Lord Baltimore – One of the earliest hardy hibiscus hybrids, this cross between several native North American hardy hibiscus plants produces striking, solid red flowers.
Lady Baltimore – Bred at the same time as Lord Baltimore, this hibiscus has purple to pink flowers with a bright red center.
Kopper King – Developed by the famous Fleming brothers, this plant has enormous pink flowers and copper colored leaves.
What Kind of Hibiscus are These?
Exotic, Tropical, Fancy, Hardy, Hybrid, Species,
Perennial, or Garden Variety?
At HVH we grow Exotic, Tropical Hybrid Hibiscus.
What does this mean????
People ask us constantly what type of hibiscus we grow. The answer is simple: At HVH we grow exotic, tropical, hybrid hibiscus. What?????? What the heck does that mean? Let’s see if we can answer this question….
Hibiscus are a confusing group of plants! We get a lot of email all the time asking questions about the different types of hibiscus, and unfortunately for all of us, there aren’t really uniform, standardized names for any of the different kinds of hibiscus. Each new type has unofficial names that have cropped up among growers and aficionados, and different groups of people use different names for the same plant, or the same name for different plants. Does this all sound confusing? Well, it should! It confuses everyone in the hibiscus world! We hope this article will help sort out some of the terminology and types of hibiscus that we find in gardens around the world.
Tropical Hibiscus v. Hardy or Perennial Hibiscus
‘Acapulco Gold’ Like all HVH Hibiscus
Is a Tropical Hibiscus
The two main groups of hibiscus that we most commonly grow in our gardens are tropical hibiscus and hardy, winter-hardy or perennial hibiscus. Tropical hibiscus, as the name describes, originated in tropical climates, stay green year-round, and do not tolerate freezing temperatures. These hibiscus are all descendants of the tropical species Hibiscus rosa-sinensis mixed with seven other species of tropical hibiscus. Tropical hibiscus can only live outside year-round in warm climates where it seldom freezes, and when it does freeze, the cold spell is mild and very short. These are the hibiscus that we associate with Hawaii – the kind that are strung into Hawaiian leis, for example. All our hibiscus at HVH are tropical hibiscus, so northerners have to find ways to winter them in warm places. They have a very long blooming season, from spring through late fall, and into winter in places where it doesn’t freeze. They shed a few leaves at a time all year round, so although they do shed all their leaves each year, it’s not noticeable, because they are covered with green leaves all the time.
Hardy hibiscus, also called “winter-hardy” or “perennial” hibiscus, are most often descended from the species Hibiscus moscheutos or “Rose Mallow”, and sometimes from the species Hibiscus mutabilis or Hibiscus coccineus. Some of the ancestors of these hibiscus were native to the Americas, and all were native to colder parts of the world. Hardy hibiscus die back all the way to the ground each winter, and shoot up new growth each spring. These hibiscus grow well in cold climates, but don’t grow as well in warmer climates, especially hot, dry climates. Hardy hibiscus bloom in late summer or early fall and have a shorter blooming season than tropical hibiscus. At HVH we don’t grow any of the hardy hibiscus. We have tried in the past, but they don’t grow well in our hot, dry California climate.
Hybrid Hibiscus v. Species Hibiscus
Hybrid Hibiscus ‘Key Largo’
The name hybrid can be applied to almost all modern hibiscus. When we use the term at HVH, we are applying it to our tropical hibiscus. But growers of hardy hibiscus use the term hybrid too, as do all growers of all types of hybridized flowers – which means most of the flowers growing in our gardens in modern times. Hybridizing is simply crossing different species or different varieties to produce new varieties. Most types of flowers can be hybridized, and almost all the hibiscus we grow today are hybrids.
At HVH we hybridize our own new hibiscus varieties, or cultivars on a continuous basis, and each year we offer the best of our new hybrids for sale. It takes a lot of hybridizing to produce a few good hibiscus varieties. Typically, for each hundred new crosses we grow and test, only about two of the new cultivars are good enough to make it to market.
Species Hibiscus, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
The only hibiscus that aren’t hybrids are the original wild species hibiscus that originally grew in the tropics of Asia and islands off of Africa. Species plants, by definition, can self-pollinate and make seeds that will reproduce the same exact plant and flower. If a hybrid hibiscus produces seeds, each seed will produce a completely different hibiscus with an unknown flower, so hybrid hibiscus varieties can’t be reproduced from seed. Only species hibiscus can.
For more information about the different hibiscus species that combined to create the modern hibiscus hybrids, see the Hibiscus History article on our website. We do grow and sell some of the species hibiscus at HVH. You can find them on the Ancestors Page of our Online Store.
Garden Variety Hibiscus v. Exotic Hibiscus
Garden Variety Hibiscus
Many small simple flowers with lots of foliage on a large bush
The terms garden variety and exotic hibiscus are relatively new names in the hibiscus world. Garden variety hibiscus are the ones we are all familiar with from our childhood – the simple hibiscus flowers on large bushes that grew as high as our houses. These are the hibiscus that leis are made from in Hawaii, for example. Garden variety hibiscus are all hybrids, like almost all the hibiscus we are familiar with. But garden variety hybrids are simpler, older hybrids. They usually come in only a single solid color, or possibly a mix of two colors. The flowers are small – mostly the size we now call “mini.”
Exotic Hibiscus Plants
Fewer bigger, more complex flowers, less foliage, smaller bushes
The new, large, wildly colored, crazily different hibiscus that we grow at HVH are what we call exotic hibiscus. In some areas they are also called fancy hibiscus. Their bushes usually don’t grow as big or as vigorously as garden variety hibiscus, but the flowers are much more spectacular. Exotic hibiscus are all tropical hybrids that must be protected from freezes in the winter. Producing such large multi-colored flowers requires good nutrition and some tender loving care, but there is nothing more rewarding than the beautiful blooms these exotic hibiscus produce.
Grafted v. Grown on their Own Roots
Hibiscus ‘Creme de la Creme’
Must be Grafted
In the early days of hybridizing exotic hibiscus, few cultivars, or varieties, could be grown on their own roots. So almost all exotic hibiscus were grafted onto a tougher garden variety type of rootstock. With the newest modern cultivars this is changing. Cultivars are being hybridized for their ability to grow their own sturdy root system, so grafting is often not required with today’s exotic hibiscus. At HVH we grow many of our hibiscus on their own roots, but we do also graft some special varieties that can’t be grown any other way. We choose the growing method that creates the strongest, most vigorous plant for each cultivar we grow.
Hibiscus ‘Valentine’s Day’
Grows on its Own Roots
Does this help explain all these confusing terms? We hope this article gives you a reference to look them up again if you forget what something is and need to know!
A true showstopper, the hardy hibiscus is sure to wow with its dinner plate-size blossoms. These large-scale herbaceous plants are quick to grow and fill a space, and they add a great tropical feel to any garden setting. Plant hardy hibiscus at the back of the border so they don’t block any of their smaller companions, then sit back and wait for the fantastic fall flowers to begin.
Hardy hibiscus is a great addition to any garden space, if only for the wow factor of seeing amazed reactions to the giant blooms. While not quite as tropical looking as their tender cousins, the hardy hibiscus still has an exotic flair to it. See more tropical flowers for your patio.
The oversize five-petaled blooms start as bulging pointed buds and slowly unfurl into dinner plate-size discs of color. Generally you will find these somewhere in the red to white color spectrum, with many in shades in between. While the majority of the petals are generally one solid color, they are often studded with a contrasting “eye” in the center of the blooms. This eye is typically a deep red color, which makes quite a statement against some of the softer white petals. Many of the colored blossoms can have light blushes on the outer edge of the petal, giving the blooms a tie-dye or swirled effect.
Many varieties boast deep reddish-green to burgundy foliage. Since these plants can reach up to 8 feet in height, they can create quite a statement in a garden, even when not in full bloom. Just make sure to place these plants in full sun for the best color.
Hibiscus Care Must-Knows
These plants can take their time getting started, especially in the more northern reaches of their hardiness. More often than not, people assume their treasured hardy hibiscus didn’t make it through the winter. Don’t fret! Hibiscus are notoriously slow to come up in the spring, and sometimes won’t even show up until early summer (depending on how cool the spring has been). Make sure to cut back any old woody stems before new foliage does arise, and keep a watchful eye out for signs of new growth.
Another thing to note, hardy hibiscus do not like to dry out too much. They actually can take quite a bit of water and can grow in marshy conditions as well. Full sun is always best for the biggest flower display, as well as the best foliage color on the burgundy leaf varieties.
How to Remove Whiteflies
People are always wanting more of these tropical-looking hardy plants. Luckily, breeders are constantly improving hardy hibiscus and adding more colors to the palette. Places like Walter’s Gardens are at the forefront of hardy hibiscus breeding. Almost every year, they release new varieties with darker foliage colors, new floral patterns, higher bud counts, and better branching. Keep an eye out for the Summerific collection, a great option for the home garden.
More Varieties of Hibiscus
‘Blue River II’ Hibiscus
Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Blue River II’ shows off 10-inch-wide, pure-white hibiscus blooms on 6-foot stems in midsummer to fall. Zones 5-10
Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Fireball’ is one of the most stunning perennial hibiscus plants. It bears bold red flowers up to 12 inches across on 5-foot-tall stems. It grows 3 feet wide. Zones 5-9
Hibiscus makinoi shows off large pink flowers to 5 inches wide. This hibiscus plant bears fuzzy green foliage and can grow 7 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 7-10
‘Lord Baltimore’ Hibiscus
Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Lord Baltimore’ bears 10-inch-wide, bright cherry-red flowers on 4-foot stems in midsummer to fall. Zones 5-10
‘Luna Pink Swirl’ Hibiscus
Hibiscus ‘Luna Pink Swirl’ is a compact selection bearing 8-inch-wide flowers in pink and white. This hibiscus plant grows 3 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-10
‘Luna Red’ Hibiscus
Hibiscus ‘Luna Red’ is a compact selection at 2-3 feet tall. Its 8-inch, deep burgundy flowers bloom from midsummer to fall. Zones 5-10
Scarlet Rose Mallow
Hibiscus coccineus is a dramatic plant that grows to 7 feet tall and bears 5-inch, brilliant red flowers in summer. Zones 7-9
White Rose Mallow
Hibiscus coccineus albus is a Texas native that offers pure white flowers from summer to fall. This hibiscus plant loves moist soil and grows 10 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 6-11
‘Strawberry Swirl’ Hibiscus
Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Strawberry Swirl’ offers creamy-pink and white flowers with red centers and maple-shape foliage. This hibiscus plant grows 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-10
Plant Hibiscus With:
Joe Pye weed is a showstopper of a prairie native, producing huge, puffy flower heads in late summer. It prefers moist soil, but with its extensive root system, it also tolerates drought well. It is a large plant, growing 4 to 6 feet tall. Closely related, hardy ageratum is a spreading plant that grows to only 2 feet tall. Another relative, white snakeroot, reaches 4 to 5 feet tall. All are great for naturalistic or cottage plantings and for attracting butterflies.
Miscanthus is one of the most prized ornamental grasses, and one particular cultivar, ‘Morning Light’, sums up much of its appeal: This grass is stunning when backlit by the sun, either rising or setting. Statuesque miscanthus makes dense clumps of arching grassy foliage in an assortment of widths, decoration, and fineness, according to variety. Dramatic erect plumes of flower spikelets rise among the leaves or well above them and last beautifully through the winter. Site miscanthus with good drainage and plenty of space in sun or light shade.
This native perennial gets its name from the shape of its unusual flowers, which resemble the heads of snapping turtles. It spreads to form dense colonies of upright stems bearing pink, rose, or white flowers from late summer into fall. It grows best in some shade, and is a good choice for heavy, wet soils. It tolerates full sun with adequate moisture.