Garden Chick - Notes from the Garden

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Growing Hardy Hibiscus in Your Garden

The small downtown area where I live is a great place for walking.  Sidewalks circle several blocks around the elementary, middle, and high schools.  People walking their dogs, pushing babies in strollers, and kids riding bikes are a common site as the summer cools down.  I went for a walk the other night and passed one of the houses along the street.  I spotted this flower, and post a question on my facebook as to what it was.
 I thought it was a large hollyhock and was partially right.  It is a Hardy Hibiscus, and is a cousin of the hollyhock.  It towers several feet high and was placed up against the fence surrounding the yard. Paired with purple coneflower and yellow rudbeckia it made quite a display.
If you are thinking of growing this hibiscus some of the things you should know are:

Generally hardy in zones 4-9
Available in a wide range of colors including white, blue, crimson, pink, and purple.

Prefers a sunny spot where soil is rich and drains well, but remains damp.
Blooms midsummer to fall
Height 3-8 feet tall
Butterflies and hummingbirds flock to the flowers for it's nectar
Can be plagued by Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles should be controlled by picking them off, or spraying with a strong jet of water.  Don't use those beetle traps they only attract more.  I prefer not to use pesticides since I have bees.

It is difficult to divide and replant hibiscus so they should be propagated through seeds or cuttings.
When planting seeds, either purchased or harvested from your own plants, nick the seed coat with a knife to allow the seed embryo to take up water and germinate.
To take cuttings, use a 3 to 4 inch piece taken from young growth.  Root it in moist sand, perlite, or a rooting medium of your choice.I like to use a rooting hormone which will help speed up the process.  It takes 3 or 4 weeks for the new growth to emerge.

I believe I have the perfect spot for hardy hibiscus next year in my garden.  Right up against my split rail fence, mixed in with the rudbeckia, and purple coneflower, and bee balm  Since yellow and red are my favorite colors, I will be scouring the seed catalogs for those colors.

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