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Hort in the Home Landscape

Plant of the Week: Perennial Hibiscus

I don't know about you, but I've been noticing that perennial hibiscus plants are looking awesome in the landscape these past few weeks!

So, this week I'm featuring the Perennial or Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus mosheutos). Many gardeners are familiar with the tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) that we grow as houseplants in the winter and set outside for the summer, or the shrub hibiscus, better known as Rose-of-Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus. This hibiscus though, is a great addition to the perennial landscape here in Illinois with its hardiness to zone 4.

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Perennial hibiscus is traditionally one of the latest perennials to emerge in the spring which always make me wonder if it's coming back or not. But alas, it always does though!

Fast forward a couple of months after spring and hibiscus is now about 4-5 feet tall with gorgeous flowers in my landscape. The mature height of perennial hibiscus can range from 2-8 feet depending on the cultivar. Foliage color can be either green or a nice dark purple like the ones in my landscape.

Flowering typically occurs in July-September with showy, dinner plate-sized, hollyhock-like flowers (each to 4-6" in diameter). The flowers are complete with five overlapping white, creamy white or pink petals with reddish-purple to dark crimson bases which form a sharply contrasting central eye.

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This perennial is easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun. It does best in moist, organically rich soils, but does surprisingly well in average garden soils as long as those soils are not allowed to dry out. Perennial hibiscus should be cut to about 3-4" from the ground at the end of the season. Next year, new growth will appear late but will grow quickly.

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