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Plant of the Week: Hardy Hibiscus

Susanna Newhart


Origins of the Hibiscus

No one really knows when this beauty was first discovered or named, it has been cultivated in China, Japan and the Pacific Islands for a very long time. The Hardy Hibiscus is not just pretty, we use it in food, as medicine and dye. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is also the national flower for Malaysia.  Hibiscus arnottianus  and  Hibiscus waimeae which are a white flowered species are native to Hawaii. Hibiscus come in a variety of colours, Pink, Orange, red, blue, purple and even multi-coloured!

There are over 300 different tropical species. Fear not we do have a hardy species, that can grow in zone 4 here in Edmonton, AB.

In the 1950’s the three Fleming brothers of Lincoln, NB, Jim, Bob and Dave began to experiment with a hardy Shrub. They spent their entire lives creating many perennials, the most famous being the Fleming Hibiscus Hybrid. Thankfully for them we have a very durable zone 4 perennial

Hibiscus is and evergreen shrub that is part of the cotton family. In the wild the shrub can grow up to 10m high.

The leaves are ovate, and the flowers can grow up to 25 cm. The flowers are large and showy, and the short lived blossoms last only one day!

Planting and Plant needs

The best time to plant is after any danger of frost, which here in Edmonton, AB means after the May long weekend. They are slow to arrive in a cold spring, so be patient. Hibiscus do not like to be transplanted, so choice you space wisely. They like well drained acidic soil. Hardy Hibiscus do well in full sun, but can handle a bit of shade. When you include them in your design , make sure you give them the space they need to expand. They can get up to three feet wide.

You can also use containers to grow them on your deck. They look amazing in pots, being able to climb up and along a railing. The pot should be well drained, soggy roots will kill the plant. If they are too dry Hibiscus will let you know by dropping its leaves. Not to worry, even if you just have some nubs, they tend to come back with proper watering.

Hibiscus is a herbaceous perennial, which means it dies back to the ground each winter, and grow from its roots each spring. Let them die back all the way and then prune in the late fall. Mulch the stump, and wait for the magic in the spring.

Thank you for joining us this week, and look for more of our weekly blogs. Newhart Landscaping and Construction Ltd is a local family owned and operated landscape construction company located in Sherwood Park, AB.