Hardy Hibiscus: Summer-Flowering, Native Shrubs


This summer I am enjoying two hardy hibiscus plants in my Virginia garden. I planted them last year along the perimeter of the backyard where the water runs through like a river when it rains. It is a full sun, exposed area and the plants are blooming their heads off.

Hardy hibiscus plants (Hibiscus moscheutos) are native to the eastern United States and are common in swampy areas. They typically grow 4-5 feet tall with large hibiscus-like flowers. The flowers only last a day, attracting pollinators, butterflies, and hummingbirds. For years, several cultivars have been available with flowers in the white, pink, and red range.

My bushes come from a new series of eye-popping colors.  I have Amaretto (salmon-colored flowers) and Bleu Brulee (lavender petals with dark red center) from J. Berry Nursery’s Summer Spice Hardy Hibiscus collection. This is a wholesale nursery but their website has a retailer locator. The collection has unusual flower colors – from dark red chocolate to cornflower blue.

Bleu Brulee

My plants were very small when I planted them last summer but they grew quickly. In the fall, after the first frost, I cut the stems down to about 4 inches above the ground. They overwintered well but as with all hardy hibiscus plants, they were late to the dance. Just when I thought the bushes might be dead, I saw new growth at the base in May. The stems grew so fast that by June the bushes were about 3 feet tall (this series also is more compact). Now in July, they are covered in flowers constantly visited by bees. Hardy hibiscus plants are also deer-resistant, although I have seen some Japanese beetle damage on the foliage. I like their large flowers, especially since I can see them from the house. I have a few areas in my garden where there are depressions in the ground that remain damp after the rain or low lying areas through which rain water channels and hardy hibiscus plants are perfect for these areas. In addition, they thrive despite our heat and humidity and provide great color all summer long.

12 responses to “Hardy Hibiscus: Summer-Flowering, Native Shrubs

  1. That is an impressive native. Our biggest native flower is the matilija poppy, but it s more garish (up close) than pretty. Because of the chaparral climate, most flowers are rather modest.

  2. Nice blog:) I fell in love with Hibiscus moscheutos the first sight I saw their big luscious flowers. Your H. moscheutos have slender leaves. Why did you choose the pink and lavender color?

    • I like all flower colors and these were easy to see from my house

      • Oh that’s a good sight indeed. Does your H. moscheutos attract birds? I observed that some birds feed on the style and stigma of the flower.

      • Mine are far away from the house so by the time I walk up to them birds would have flown away

  3. I’m waiting for my hibiscus to bloom. I’m not sure if they’re native but they’re pretty!

  4. Most of the large-flowered cultivated plants are actually hybrids involving several species, usually H. moscheutos but several others as well. Calling them cultivars of the species, and especially referring to them as “native”, is not accurate.

    • Thank you for letting me know. If there is an error and you can suggest a way to correct the article, please send it to me.

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