One of the most joyful blooms you find in the summer are those of the hibiscus. They can be dramatic. Some of the hundreds of varieties will grow flowers as large as a child’s head. Now lets talk color! Look for hibiscus in all shades of pink from soft to hot, shades of red, white, yellow, peach, purple and orange.
According to Herbs 2000 website, hibiscus have grown for centuries around the rim of the Indian and Pacific oceans. The name comes from the Greek word “hibiskos,” given by the Greek physician Dioscorides in the 1st century to the marshmallow plant, a close relative of the hibiscus. The old species Hibiscus rosa-sinesis is believed to have been grown in China for thousands of years. The first Hibiscus Society was formed in Hawaii in 1911 and soon after this lovely flower was named the symbol of Hawaii. Today you can find both American and international hibiscus societies.
Some of the popular varieties of hibiscus are Lord Baltimore, Fireball, Blue River II, Luna Pink Swirl, Luna Rose, White Rose Mallow (a Texas native) and Scarlet Rose Mallow. Relatives of the hibiscus are Rose of Sharon, okra, cotton, the Confederate Rose and hollyhock.
It is easy to care for this tropical beauty no matter which hibiscus variety you choose. They prefer temperatures between 60-90 degrees F, regular water and good drainage. When they are in their blooming stage give ‘em lots of water — daily water until the weather cools off. Hibiscus grown in a container like their roots to have a tight fit (slightly root bound). I’ve never had great luck turning hibiscus into any more than a summer annual but ambitious gardeners can try to bring the container hibiscus inside during cooler temperatures.
Hibiscus need lots of nutrients in order to bloom well. Use a blooming booster fertilizer with high potassium content. Try diluting a super bloom product quite a bit and use it with every watering during the blooming season.
You could consider planting hibiscus with Joe Pye weed for a showstopping effect. The huge flowers grow 4-6 feet tall and would blend well with the hibiscus tendrils. Miscanthus is a popular ornamental grass that would meld well with hibiscus with its dense clumps of arching, grassy foliage. The perennial turtlehead would be a good compliment as well with its pink and white flowers, as would be ageratum. It’s easy to share your hibiscus with root cuttings or air-layering. Share or borrow a few cuttings with your neighbor and spread the blooms.