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Connecticut Garden Journal: Hardy Hibiscus

'Kopper King' Hibiscus
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Flickr / Creative Commons
'Kopper King' Hibiscus

It happens every spring. I look where the hardy hibiscus is supposed to be growing and I see nothing. The bulbs are blooming, the spring perennials are flowering, but no signs of our hibiscus. Instead of panicking, I've learned to be patient. I know hardy hibiscus takes its time in spring.

While hardy hibiscus is late to emerge, it makes up for lost time in July and August. With the hot, humid weather, the plant explodes into growth reaching 3- to 5-feet tall and they start flowering. I'm not talking about dainty black eyed Susan type flowers, I'm talking 8-to 10-inch diameter, round discs of color. The flower show goes on for weeks and I guarantee you that visitors to your garden will be amazed.

Hardy hibiscus is related to the tropical hibiscus shrub you may have seen in warmer climates such as Florida and Texas. But, it's hardy to zone 5. It grows into a large perennial, flowers in colors ranging from white to deep burgundy and some varieties such as 'Kopper King' have burgundy colored foliage, too. The 'Luna' series has large flowers in white, red or pink depending on the selection. It's a great late summer flower to add pop to your flower garden.

Hardy hibiscus grows best on well-drained, moist soil. It likes moisture, so keep it well watered if you have a summer drought. It flowers best in full sun. Come fall the plant dies back to the ground with a frost. It's a low maintenance perennial only requiring compost in spring for fertilizer. Insects, diseases and animals seem to leave it alone.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.