A Quick Guide to the Hibiscus Moscheutos
There are many perennial plants that thrive in warm, well drained areas, but for those low lying swampy areas, there is no plant that can compare to the hibiscus moscheutos. Colorful, graceful and tall, these perennials will dress up that unattractive boggy area in your yard and make it a show stopping visual display.
Hibiscus is the better known name for this plant, but rose mallow is another moniker by which the plant is known. Attractive to both butterflies and bees, this plant is extremely versatile in its usage to humans, as well. Numerous species of the hibiscus exist, some that are acclimated to tropical locations while others do better in partly shady areas in cooler climates. Certain varieties of hibiscus have long been revered in different cultures as having medicinal and culinary purposes. Roselle is one variety of the hibiscus plant that is used as food and for concocting teas in Mexico, Egypt and Sudan among others. The plant is also useful in making paper, wigs, food colorings, grass skirts and medicines, as well as bubbles for children. Other varieties, such as the hibiscus moscheutos, are simply enjoyed for the beauty that they bring to otherwise dismal locations.
As an ornamental perennial, no other flowers can compare to those produced by the hibiscus. With blooms measuring approximately 9” across, the rosemallow has the largest flowers of all garden perennials, and is one of the showiest plants in the garden during flowering. Cuplike blooms feature all colors of the rainbow; deep red, delicate pink, lavender, magenta and the purest of whites. Some varieties display an eye in the center of the flower darker in color than the petals to really showcase the vivid colors. Blooms can be single petalled, or ruffled for the appearance of double petals. There is even a variegated blossom; featuring a lighter color on the outer edges of the petal with a darker complimentary hue decorating the inner. This variance gives the bloom the appearance of being a pinwheel; especially attractive in its uniqueness. All hibiscus flowers have the look and feel of crepe paper. The foliage of the perennial varies depending upon the variety of plant grown, and can range from deep green to purplish green to add even more interest to the garden.
Hibiscus moscheutos are equally unusual in their flexibility of growing conditions. While they do admirably in a sunny, well drained location, the perennials truly shine in areas of the garden or yard where few others can survive. Low, damp areas that are partially shaded are usually the bane of the gardener, who typically gives up trying to grow anything of any ornamental value in these areas other than ferns. However, the rose mallow does very well under these conditions; in fact, growing in the wild, the plant is often found in marshy areas such as ditches and swamplands. Those who display water gardens in their yards will find the hibiscus to be a delightful addition to the watersides; reflecting their vibrant colors on the calm, mirror like surface.
Those living in zones 5 to 10 will have the best of success growing the hibiscus. As a perennial, the plant will die back each fall and re-emerge in the spring. They are best planted in the back of flower gardens or against fences and walls, as their full grown height can reach up to 60” tall with some varieties. The plants are hardy, and the stems strong enough to support the tall growth and large blooms.
Gardeners who find themselves faced with a seemingly uninhabitable swampy area in their yard will embrace the versatility and sheer beauty of hibiscus moscheutos; the perfect answer to a perplexing growing situation.