I love hibiscus! Growing up in Virginia my Grandmother had a potted tropical hibiscus outside her door every summer. I loved the bright blooms and the tropical look of the plant, and to me it meant that summer had arrived. When I started working at the nursery years later I learned that ‘hibiscus’ can actually refer to a variety of plants – the tropical one that I was accustomed to, as well as a large shrub variety, and a native perennial. Read on to learn about each and how to best use them in the landscape.
Hibiscus syriacus – Rose of Sharon
(Hibiscus syriacus ‘Blue Bird’ – Rose of Sharon)
Of all the hibiscus the Rose of Sharon is probably my least favorite. This large deciduous shrub, reaching at least six feet tall and wide, and native to China, always seems to me to have a messy appearance. I make exception for the blue variety ‘Blue Bird’ because it is adds hard to find blue flowers to the landscape. I also appreciate the toughness of this plant – I often see it growing wild and unmaintained. And, while it does seed around, it can be pruned hard and rejuvenated.
Hibiscus moscheutos – Perennial Rose Mallow
(Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Disco Bell Red’ – Perennial Rose Mallow)
Perennial rose mallow is the hibiscus that I most often use in clients’ landscape designs. This large perennial reaches two to three feet in height and spread with flowers up to one foot in diameter! It is native to North Carolina, thriving in wet soils but tolerant of dry as well, and a great plant for hummingbirds. I like to combine it with water loving irises in a wet spot and other large native perennials like Eupatorium or Amsonia in drier conditions.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis – Tropical Hibiscus
(Hibiscus rosa-sinensis – Tropical Hibiscus)
But of all three types, the tropical hibiscus is my sentimental favorite. Long blooming throughout the summer, I place a potted one on my back porch every summer. Because it grows as an annual in North Carolina we don’t use it in our landscape designs, but I highly recommend it as an affordable large potted plant. While I usually choose the traditional yellow variety that my Grandmother had I have noticed more and unusual varieties at nurseries including double flowering and tree form types.
Interested in adding one of these varieties of hibiscus to your garden? Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at 919-475-1015 or fill out our online contact form. Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!