26 June 2012

Hibiscus is Hibiscus moscheutos or Dinner Plate Hibiscus or Rose Mallow

These huge flowers bloom on woody stems in the summer but die back to the ground when the weather turns cold and freezing. In zones 4 to 9 - Florida to Canada, they return reliably year after year.

One of their common names is Swamp Mallow, providing a hint as to their water needs. Give them plenty of sun and water and they will reward you with many beautiful flowers during the summer.

A cousin of okra and cotton, Hardy Hibiscus is also related to tropical hibiscus, confederate rose, and Rose-of-Sharon. Also related, is the Confederate Rose, Hibiscus mutabilis, that grows up to 15-feet tall in the south.

Scarlet Rosemallow, Malvaceae coccineus, is another one in our garden that comes back from the root each year. A blog reader sent me the seeds and she called it Texas Five Star Hibiscus. It is a reliable and gorgeous bloomer IF and WHEN it gets enough water. 

Crimson Eye Hibiscus  or Crimsoneyed rosemallow, Hibiscus is this white one with a red center.


Hardy hibiscus is resistant to pests other than the hibiscus sawfly caterpillars. These little green guys can strip an entire plant as they grow.
Each plant bears many buds so as each flower fades another bud opens, leading to weeks of flowering.

The University of Florida website has information and a chart of many of the varieties with their characteristics. You can see it at the link here. Our plants, pictured here, were passalong plants so they came without identifying tags.

The U FL site says - Hardy Hibiscus are native to  the southeastern United States, including comfortroot (Hibiscus aculeatus), scarlet rosemallow (H. coccineus), swamp rosemallow (H. grandiflorus), halberdleaf rosemallow (H. laevis) and crimsoneyed rosemallow (H. moscheutos).

Hardy Hibiscus are grown for food and fiber.

 African Rosemallow (Hibiscus acetosella) has become popular as a foliage color annual in plantings around the U.S.

Kenaf (H. cannabinus) is grown for stem fibers used for making textiles or paper.

A variety of kenaf formerly known as H. sabdariffa is a food plant with the common names of “Roselle,” “Jamaica Sorrel” and “Florida Cranberry.” The main edible part is the fleshy sepal, called a calyx, that surrounds the fading flower and developing seed capsule. The ornamental calyx is bright red and acid and is used to make tea, juice, jelly or a cranberry-like sauce.

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