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Hardy Hibiscus-The Ultimate Tropical Feel Temperate Plant

Hardy Hibiscus - Big Red

Hardy Hibiscus - Big Red

If you are looking for a true tropical looking plant, then look no further than the Hardy Hibiscus.   While some mistake these for Rose of Sharon (they are related), these are a breed all onto themselves.  Unlike the Rose of Sharon, these hibiscii are die back perennials while the Rose of Sharon is a decidious shrub. Another difference is that the Hardy Hibiscus has ENORMOUS blooms. I recently visited a local high end nursery and they had some that had HUGE blooms measuring almost 8″-10″ in diameter! I was so struck by these, that I had to ask about them since I was 100% sure they were tropical. It turns out, that they are indeed NOT tropicals but temperate perennials that can grow in zones 5-9. These will grow absolutely great in the Zone 7 southeastern part of the US as they absolutely love heat and humidity.  They come in various colors including white, pink, red and salmon. The foliage also comes in 2 different colors, the regular green variety and another in a wonderful copper color. They are both known as Hibiscus moscheutos but the copper variety is also known as “Kopper King”.

Despite their exotic look, they are relatively easy to grow. Just put them in well drained rich soil with full sun.  Unlike other marginal tropicals, these require no special winterizing other than a good mulching of the roots.  About the only drawback to these is that they are somewhat late to emerge. I saw the same plants at that nursery earlier this spring and they were barely emerging. I figured they were tropical hibiscus that had been severely damaged during the winter but after seeing them the second time around, that was not the case. That being said, once they emerge, they take off and grow very rapidly.  Another drawback, is that they are a bit hard to find locally and if you do find them, can be pricey. I had never seen them around here up until I visited the above mentioned nursery. Had it not been for the high price tag I would have picked up a few. Luckily, they are readily available online. DirectGardening.com has them at a very attractive price as does 4SeasonsNurseries.com.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a true tropical looking plant, then this one is it! I will go so far as saying that these look many times better than the run of the mill hibiscus due to their awesome bloom sizes.  This is one plant that has to be grown to trully appreciate the blooms!

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