If your color preference in landscape design leans toward bold and vibrant instead of calm and pastel, Red Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) will definitely fill the bill. But it adds more than just color by growing larger than your annual and perennial flowers to provide a focal point of height and drama in your garden. You may know Red Hibiscus by one of its other common names '– Shrub Althea or Rose-of-Sharon. This classic heirloom plant is an old-fashioned favorite with timeless appeal.
Showy Flowers that Last All Season
Even from a distance, you'll be able to admire these large flowers. Each bloom opens to a diameter of up to 4 inches! Red Hibiscus begins to open in summer, and it keeps blooming all summer, sometimes until the first fall frost. The 10-foot-tall shrubs are covered with flowers to add lots of color, height, and dramatic eye appeal to your landscape.
Superb Flowering Hedge
One Red Hibiscus is a standout in the garden, but a row of these shrubs planted as a flowering hedge is truly a spectacular sight. It's a deciduous shrub, which means that it will lose its leaves in autumn, so it won't form a privacy screen during the winter. But that's not why you'll want this shrub. It's best as an informal hedge, which means that if you let it grow into its naturally loose shape, you won't have to prune it each year into a precise manicured look that formal hedges require. You'll enjoy the lush flowers all summer long, but you won't have the maintenance of a formal hedge '– it's the best of both worlds! And you'll have the added benefit of a versatile plant that tolerates shade while continuing to bloom; in fact, Red Hibiscus actually appreciates a little afternoon sun in hot climates.
A Cold-Hardy Perennial Hibiscus That Can Also Take the Heat
You've probably purchased other hibiscus plants before because of their irresistible flowers. But many of these plants are actually tropical plants, which cannot survive the winter outdoors. You can bring them inside during the winter, but you may not have room to keep them indoors or you may not enjoy caring for houseplants because you prefer gardening outdoors. If so, our Red Hibiscus is the answer. It is not a tropical plant '– it's a cold-hardy perennial across USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 through 9. But its temperature tolerance doesn't stop there. It's also a heat-tolerant shrub that actually flowers best during the heat of summer. When hot summers sap the energy from other flowering plants, and they stop producing flowers, Red Hibiscus dials up the flower power!
Intriguing Foliage That Complements the Flowers
In landscape design, plants that have more than one attribute are even more valuable than a plant with only one primary quality. Some flowering shrubs have pretty flowers, but their foliage is fairly nondescript. Not so with Red Hibiscus. Its leaves have a striking shape that adds textural interest as a complement to its flamboyant flowers. Each 3-lobed leaf is deeply toothed for a look that's unlike the foliage on your other landscape plants. And wait until you see the combination of flowers against this distinctive foliage in your floral arrangements. If you cut long flowering stems in the peak of bloom, you'll have an elegant long-stemmed table decoration for your foyer or dining table!
Foliage heads-up: The leaves on Red Hibiscus are slower to emerge in springtime than other landscape plants '– this is completely normal. Don't think your plant didn't survive the winter when other plants leaf out and your Red Hibiscus is still leafless '– it's just "sleeping" a little longer!
Multiple Stems for Masses of Flowers
On a flowering plant, the more stems it has, the more flowers it can produce. Red Hibiscus is a multi-stemmed shrub, so it's able to bear lots of flowers along these multiple stems. When you let this shrub grow into its natural shape, it looks more like a thick shrub. But if you decide to limb it up by removing the lower branches back to the main stems, you'll shape it into a tree-form shrub. You won't cut out all the flowers by pruning it this way; they'll simply be concentrated at the top of your Red Hibiscus instead of growing all the way to the ground.
Hummingbirds Love Red Flowers
According to the Audubon Society, hummingbirds have a heightened sensitivity to this color. It's why you see this bright color prominently featured on hummingbird feeders. So if you love watching the hummingbirds in your yard and garden, plant Red Hibiscus a natural source of nectar that attracts them like a magnet because of the color of its flowers! And don't be surprised if you see hummingbirds flitting to and fro in the branches '– Red Hibiscus is also a nesting site for birds of all types. As a super pollinator plant, Red Hibiscus also attracts butterflies ?… and lots of them.
Not Bothered by Pests and Diseases
Here's a quality you wish you had from all your landscape plants '– pest and disease resistance. You certainly don't want to spray chemicals all over your flowering plants and risk killing the hummingbirds and butterflies that visit the flowers. Don't worry; you won't have to do any spraying to keep insects off your Red Hibiscus because it's not bothered by pests or diseases. And if you live in a rural area where deer are the biggest pest challenge, you'll be glad to know that even deer leave Red Hibiscus shrubs alone. They'll pass right by them to munch on other plants they prefer!
After your Red Hibiscus is firmly established on site, it's a drought-tolerant plant. You'll have to water it more the first year after planting, just as you would any new shrub, to help it develop a strong root system. But after its first year, natural rainfall should be sufficient. If your location experiences a severe drought one year, you'll want to keep all your landscape plants watered, including Red Hibiscus. And during particularly hot and dry summers, your Red Hibiscus will flower more profusely if you keep it watered.
You Can Even Grow it in a Container
Red Hibiscus is lovely as a potted plant! In a container, you can enjoy your plant where you normally wouldn't be able to grow it, such as on your sunny patio. Pots of Red Hibiscus shrubs clustered on a patio add an instant color pop to this sitting and entertaining area. You'll also be able to watch the hummingbirds and butterflies close up as you're relaxing in your favorite patio chair! Choose a container that's at least 16 inches in diameter to allow ample room for your Red Hibiscus to grow. You can keep it pruned to a shorter height in a container, or you can keep potting it up to larger containers as it grows. Be sure to select a heavy container, such as clay or ceramic, so strong winds don't topple your plant.
Container potting tip: It's always best to use a packaged potting mix in containers so the mix stays loose. Over time, garden soil tends to pack down too tightly in a container.
Not a Lot of Maintenance Required
Unless you hire a gardener to keep your landscape picture-perfect, you're the maintenance crew! And isn't it so much more rewarding to select plants for your landscape design that need very little attention from you to grow healthy and produce lots of flowers? Red Hibiscus is an easy-care plant that asks very little from you to perform reliably and continue flowering profusely, year after year. The type of soil doesn't matter very much, but you'll have better success with your plant if the soil pH is between 5.0 and 8.0. It responds to moist soil, which doesn't mean soggy soil that doesn't drain well. If your climate is a bit dry, apply a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch to help conserve the soil moisture. You won't need to prune Red Hibiscus to promote lots of flowers, but if you want to shape it, the best time is in late winter or early spring before the leaves open. And if you apply a slow-release fertilizer in spring, it'll help your Red Hibiscus produce even more flowers!
Did You Know?
Red Hibiscus is related to hollyhocks, okra, and the plant that was originally used to make marshmallows.
If your color preference in landscape design leans toward bold and vibrant instead of calm and pastel, Red Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) will definitely fill the bill. But it adds more than just color by growing larger than your annual and perennial picks.
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