A common plant in tropical and subtropical climates, huge-blossomed Hibiscus (Hibiscus) commands star billing in U.S. gardens. An old-fashioned favorite, Hibiscus blooms in deeply-trumpeted flowers that open into huge, soft-lobed petals. Hibiscus are available in a variety of beautiful colors from deep, solid fuchsias, reds, oranges, purples and yellows to delicate whites, their petal edges tinged with a pale blush of color. Over-long, elegant pistils and stamens protrude from the deep, richly-colored trumpet throats of these eye-catching garden stars.
A perennial beauty that thrives in Southern states that enjoy the topic-like warmth of Zones 10-12, Hibiscus can be grown as a summer annual in most of America’s more temperate states. Gardeners north of the Mason-Dixon Line can enjoy Hibiscus plants year-round by potting them in containers and bringing them indoors when autumn arrives and nighttime temperatures begin to fall.
With their large, showy flowers, attractive green foliage and bushy growth, Hibiscus plants do equally well as stand-alone flowering landscape shrubs or as display plants in mixed groupings with other flowers and shrubs. Their large, deeply-throated blooms attract both hummingbirds and butterflies.
More than 200 species of Hibiscus grow around the world. In the Caribbean and Mexico, certain species are used to brew herbal teas and make jams. Hibiscus plants are used in paper-making and as a natural dye. In China, Hibiscus is a common ingredient in herbal medicines. Even the bark of this plant is put to use in some cultures. Native Polynesians used fibers from Hibiscus stems to make grass skirts.
Commonly known as Rose Mallow, Hibiscus is easy to grow. For best results, Hibiscus should be planted in fertile, well-drained soil that is slightly alkaline. Soil should be kept moist and well-watered, particularly during hot, dry weather. This tropical beauty thrives in full sun and needs 6 or more hours of sun per day for best display. To promote a long blooming season, spent blossoms should be removed regularly.