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Hardy Hibiscus Plants


Photo of hardy hibiscus flower.

Photo of flower of hardy hibiscus plant.

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of Hardy Hibiscus Plants:

Plant taxonomy classifies the hardy hibiscus plants with which I deal in this article as Hibiscus moscheutos. They also go by such common names as "rose mallows" and "swamp mallows." But I prefer the more descriptive nicknames "hardy hibiscus" and "dinner-plate hibiscus," for these names tell you that Hibiscus moscheutos is quite cold hardy despite bearing large blooms that remind one of the tropics. The information below pertains to cultivars such as 'Disco Belle Rosy Red.' The colors of the most common cultivars are white, bi-colored, or various shades of red or pink, but other colors are now available.

Plant Type:

Although hardy hibiscus plants are woody in summer and function as sub-shrubs in the landscape, their stems do die back to the ground in winter, making them herbaceous perennials, technically.


'Disco Belle Rosy Red' hardy hibiscus plants reach about 2 1/2 feet in height with a spread slightly less than that, but the measurement more folks concentrate on is the bloom size -- up to 10 inches for cultivars such as 'Galaxy'! As you can see from the picture above, even cultivars with smaller blooms still produce impressive, saucer-size flowers. While each bloom lives only a day or two, they are quickly replaced by newcomers.

Planting Zones for Hardy Hibiscus Plants:

The species plant is indigenous to eastern North America. H. moscheutos cultivars can be grown in planting zones 4-9.

Sun and Soil Requirements:

Plant hardy hibiscus plants in full sun and in an average-to-wet soil.

Care for Hardy Hibiscus Plants:

If you're not planting hardy hibiscus plants in a wet spot, then make sure they're adequately watered. Because the blossoms are so large -- yet so ephemeral! -- deadheading is recommended after blooming, for aesthetic purposes.


Hardy hibiscus plants will typically bloom in late July or early August in northern climes. This feature makes them valuable specimen plants in landscaping plans that strive for spring-to-fall color, since fewer flowering shrubs bloom at this time than at other times during the growing season.

The species plant is a wetland plant, and hardy hibiscus flowers can be treated as plants for wet soils -- i.e., areas where most other plants wouldn't grow well. This makes them useful around water features.

Wildlife Attracted by Hardy Hibiscus Plants:

Hibiscus moscheutos flowers are plants that attract butterflies.


When you think of hibiscus flowers, you think first of tropical plants (H. rosa-sinensis), right?. If you live in a northern clime, what comes to mind next may be rose of sharon (H. syriacus); but it doesn't bear large enough flowers to boast a tropical look. If you want a taste of the tropics in the North, plant hardy hibiscus plants (cultivars of H. moscheutos); some produce flowers the size of a dinner plate!

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