Texas star hibiscus plant

Texas Star Hibiscus Info: Tips For Growing A Texas Star Hibiscus

The Texas Star hibiscus is a moisture loving variety of hibiscus that produces large striking, star-shaped flowers in both white and bright crimson. Keep reading to learn more about Texas Star hibiscus care and how to grow Texas Star hibiscus plants in the garden and landscape.

Texas Star Hibiscus Info

There are at least 200 distinct species of hibiscus in the world, which means there should be one for every gardening need. So what is a Texas Star hibiscus and what sets it apart? The Texas Star species (Hibiscus coccineus) is native to the Southern United States and Pacific Coast. It is hardy in USDA zones 8-11, though it will die back to the ground and regrow in the spring in colder areas, sometimes as cold as zone 5.

It goes by several names, including swamp hibiscus, scarlet rose mallow, and red hibiscus. It is best identified by its flowers, which are sometimes white but often deep, bright red. The flowers have five long, narrow petals that form an unmistakable star shape. These flowers can reach 6 inches (15 cm.) in diameter. The plant usually reaches 6 to 8 feet in height (1.8-2.4 m.) but can grow as tall as 10 feet (3 m.). Its leaves are long and star shaped and often get it mistaken for marijuana.

How to Grow Texas Star Hibiscus Plants in the Garden

Texas Star hibiscus care is easy, as long as you meet the plant’s growing requirements. It is native to swamplands, and it does best in damp areas, such as the borders of ponds or low spots in the garden.

That being said, it will tolerate some dryness, and growing a Texas Star hibiscus in a traditional garden bed is fine, as long as it gets frequent watering. It performs best in full sun or partial shade.

It attracts grasshoppers, which will chew on the leaves and flower buds. These are best removed (or squished) by hand.

Plant Profile: Texas Star Hibiscus

  • July 21, 2019
  • Plant Profile

Texas Star Hibiscus Provides Hardy Tropical Flair

For many in North Texas, tropical hibiscus are the go-to plant for a splash of summer color, and it’s easy to understand why. They come in a variety of bright colors – oranges, reds, and yellows of every shade. Pot a few in poolside planters and you can easily imagine yourself in Hawaii instead of your Frisco backyard. They can take the heat and will bloom all summer, but as soon as the first chills of fall arrive, tropical hibiscus is done. They’re only hardy to Zone 10, and Collin County is Zone 7/8. That means, those pretty tropicals are annuals in our area.

There’s no need to buy new tropical hibiscus every year (though we’ll happily sell them to you at Shades of Green! ;-). You can achieve the tropical look with a hibiscus that is hardy to North Texas. Really. There are several perennial (hardy) varieties that will survive our winters and return year after year. One of my personal favorites is Texas Star Hibiscus.

Despite its name, Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) is not a Texas Native, though it is native to North America. A vigorous perennial, it produces large, star-shaped, white or bright red flowers that bloom from late spring into fall. It grows 4-6 feet tall x 3-4 feet wide on average, but can get larger.

Texas Star Hibiscus is deciduous and will therefore drop its leaves in the fall. Once all the leaves are off, you can cut it back to within 4-6 inches from the ground. The plant will leaf out and flower on new growth that emerges in mid to late spring. Plants are typically flowering by the end of May or early June.

It will do okay in part sun, but plant in full sun for best flowering. It tolerates wet, boggy, or marshy soil just fine and is therefore a good choice for such areas. It also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, which is always a plus in my book.

Instead of planting tropicals every year, find a spot in your yard for a Texas Star and enjoy the tropical look of this hardy plant.

Common Name: Texas Star Hibiscus

Latin Name: Hibiscus coccineus
pronounced hi-BIS-kus kok-SIN-ee-us

Additional Info:

  • Shades of Green plant database
  • Dave’s Garden


About the Author: Tim Wardell is a Texas Certified Nursery Professional and the Marketing Coordinator for Shades of Green, Inc.

Planting Star Hibiscus Seeds From Austin

From: Austin

Question: TX star hibiscus seeds. How & when to plant in ground & in pots. Thank you, Carol


Hibiscus coccineus (Texas Star Hibiscus) is, strangely enough, not native to Texas, but instead its range is from Florida to Mississippi. However, the common name makes it very popular in Texas and it grows well here, so no worries.

From Floridata, this article on Hibiscus coccineus includes these instructions on using seed:

“Propagation: By seeds or root division. Seeds should be punctured with a needle or scraped with a file before planting.”

Our own Native Plant Database doesn’t say a whole lot more:

“Description: Easily grown from seed.”

So, we went to Jill Nokes’ book How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest. See Bibliography below. She addressed Hibiscus in general, and here is an extract from her advice:

“Some species of Hibiscus will germinate from untreated seeds gathered in the previous season, while others require slight scarification. All hibiscus should be planted outdoors after all danger of frost is past and the soil has warmed, or earlier in a greenhouse. The soil in the seedbed must be warm before germination will proceed. Sow seeds thinly about 1/4″ deep in well-drained soil. Press the seeds into the soil and gently water.”

“Seedlings grow relatively fast if given filtered but strong sunlight and lightly fertilized. Spring-sown seedlings will be large enough for a one-gallon container by the fall and will bloom the following spring. Transplant seeds from the flat after they have grown their third set of leaves.”

We suggest that on the subject of growing the Texas Star Hibiscus you read our How-To Article Container Gardening with Native Plants.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

More on Plant Propagation from Mr. Smarty Plants

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When I lived in Dallas many years ago, there was a large Texas Star Hibiscus that grew near our front door. We loved it because of the beautiful big red flowers and also because it usually bloomed on my wife’s birthday in late July.
Now that I live out west I haven’t tried to grow Texas Star Hibiscus because it’s so dry here. However we picked up one at a native plant sale in the spring and have been struggling to keep it alive through this dry summer heat spell.
It turns out that Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) may not even be native. I could not find it listed in most of my reference books on Texas natives. The NPIN database and USDA both show it native to Arkansas and Louisiana but not Texas. However BONAP and Texas SmartScape both say it’s native, so I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt, partly for nostalgic reasons.

This is a tall perennial, three to six feet according to the literature; the one we had in Dallas was over four feet. It can get a bit leggy and most people would probably prefer it at the back of a border. The showy blossoms are at the top of the branches and are five to six inches in diameter. The flowers come on late and continue all summer. They are bright crimson red, with a five-pointed star in the middle; hence the name. It goes by other names as well, such as Crimson Hibiscus and Scarlet Rosemallow.

As you would expect, hummingbirds are attracted to the blooms, as well as several kinds of butterflies and bees.

It’s natural habitat is swamps and ditches, so obviously extra water is going to be needed. I’m putting mine next to the grey-water discharge pipe. It would probably be perfect for Houston.

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