play "hide and seek" behind it. People leave their cars
in the middle of the road to get a closer look. And the first
time you see the extremely large flower of the perennial hibiscus,
your mouth will drop open and you'll want to attend the party
for which Mother Nature created this lovely beauty!
commonly called perennial hibiscus, rose mallow or swamp rose,
is hardy in zones 5 to 9. Though the plant thrives in full sun
to partial shade and moist soil that is high in organic matter,
it will tolerate wetlands and creek edges and is useful in poorly
drained areas. Depending upon the variety, it can grow to a height
of 18 inches to 8 feet and grows in shrub form.
most amazing part of the perennial hibiscus is its saucer-shaped
flowers. A single flower can be 6- to 12-inches wide in shades
of red, white, pink or bicolor from summer to frost. Little effort
with this plant usually reaps big rewards. It grows quickly and
is easy to start from seed or to propagate by division Japanses
beetles are its major pest problem.
hibiscus as a single plant or massed around a water garden or
lake. But be warned, if you plant it in your front yard this showstopper
compels people to get a closer look at its remarkable flowers!
Some common cultivars are 'Disco Bell Mix' (white, pink, red flowers),
'Southern Belle' (red, pink, white flowers), 'Sweet Caroline'
(pink flowers with darker center), 'Anne Arundel' (pink flowers),
'Blue River II' (white flowers), 'Lady Baltimore' (pink flowers
with red centers) and 'Lord Baltimore' (red flowers).
North American native hibiscus also works wonders in a perennial
border. At the JC Raulston Arboretum, these magnificent specimens
punctuate the 300-foot-long border with bold beauty in midsummer.
Check out 'Plum Crazy', with its somewhat dusty rose flowers,
and 'Kopper King', which has most unusual and complementary purple
foliage. Learn more at www.ncsu.edu/jcraulstonarboretum.
All photos by Robert E. Lyons